Fire Marshal Vanderholt of Sharon, Pa.
Fred Vanderholt, chief of the Sharon, Pa., fire department and fire marshal, will close a period of 25 years as a fire fighter on August 6. During these years he Has never been off duty on account of illness. In point of service he is the oldest fire official in western Pennsylvania, and there are few firemen in the country who can boast of a longer and better record than the Sharon man. The per capita fire loss for Pennsylvania last year is said to have been $1.98, For Sharon it was a little over 50 cents. In other years it was as low as 20 cents. Chief Vanderholt is 52 years old. He began his duties as a fire fighter on August 6, 1886. For a long time after being put in the service, Mr. Vanderholt was the lone custodian of the fire apparatus, and he had to depend on volunteers for assistance. He was instrumental in having an excellent bedroom installed in the building, and he secured a number of young men to make the fire department their homes. In March, 1902, he was selected as chief, being the first paid man to hold this position. He succeeded C. E. Bundel, who had previously served as chief for 22 years without pay. Since being regaled as chief he has engineered the purchase of a large truck, a three-horse hitch hose wagon, the installation of the Gamewell fire alarm system and the extension of the high pressure water service throughout the city, making an engine unnecessary, except in the most hilly places. He also succeeded in having five paid men being placed in the house. At the present time he is a warm advocate of a motordriven combination engine and hose cart. Unless councilmen go back on their promise made a few months ago, such a piece of apparatus will be placed in the fire house next spring. Anyone acquainted with the topographical outlay of Sharon can see the necessity for such an improvement. The chief insists that there should be two additional fire stations, one on each hill, but this is impossible, so the automobile truck is expected to relieve the present conditions. Since 1886 Mr. Vanderholt has suffered but three big losses. The worst was that of his wife, who died about two years ago. The others were fires. The Morgan theater burned soon after he took charge as chief, with a loss of nearly $50,000. Inadequate fire apparatus was blamed for this, and council at that time immediately installed more modern machinery for which the chief had been advocating from the moment he was placed in charge. Last summer there was another farily big blaze, and the biggest in Sharon for a score of years. This was the plant of the Damascus Brake Beam Works. This fire could have been quelled almost as soon as it had started, but there was no water plugs in that vicinity, and the firemen had to lay 1,500 feet lines of hose. This so reduced the pressure that it was practically impossible to reach the fire. But even with this handicap, part of the plant was saved. The loss was $17,500. During 1910, with 86 calls, the total loss was $22,700. Excepting the Brake beam plant the loss in 85 calls was $5,200. Chief Vanderholt is a born expert when it comes to estimating losses. A noticeable example of this is the brake beam fire When quizzed by reporters concerning the loss, the chief said that $20,000 would cover the damage. Officials of the plant said it was a $175,000 fire. When the adjusters got busy the company thought the adjusters had favored them considerable and they readily settled for $17,600. There is scarcely a man, woman child in Sharon and the surrounding territory who does not know Chief Yanderholt. This is some record, since there are almost 25,000 in this vicinity. His popularity is evidenced by the fact that he has managed to retain his position no matter which political power was in charge of the administration. The chief is not much given to reading, but he is always on the lookout for FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING, and takes keen delight in reading each issue.