Aetna Hose Hook & Ladder Companyby Senator Christopher A. Coons
Posted on 2013-12-10
COONS. Mr. President, on behalf of Senator Tom Carper,
Congressman John Carney and myself, I rise today to recognize the Aetna
Hose Hook & Ladder Company and its many volunteers and leadership who,
on December 17, 2013, will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the
company's founding in 1888.
For more than a century, Aetna has provided exemplary firefighting and lifesaving services for residents of Newark, DE. From its humble beginnings at the turn of the century, when the company consisted of a simple, hand-drawn hose cart, the Aetna Hose Hook & Ladder Company has grown to incorporate 5 stations, 17 trucks, and hundreds of members dedicated to ``service for others.'' Prior to 1888, residents were forced to combat fires on their own, until a fire in a woolen mill resulted in the loss of 800 jobs. The disaster prompted the town council to call for the creation of a town fire company. Founded on December 17, 1888 at a meeting of 30 town citizens, Aetna Hose Hook & Ladder Company's first leadership group included John A. Mullin as chairman, Isaac J. Moore as secretary, William H. Simpers as president, and Joseph T. Willis as foreman--the 19th century term for fire chief. Dues for active members began at $1, while contributing members paid $2 per year. The company was incorporated on December 13, 1889, with 57 charter members.
During its humble first years, Aetna's fire alarm system consisted of ringing Catholic Church, academy and college bells. In 1893, the company purchased its first hose carriage and in 1901, it received its first $250 appropriation from the town of Newark, prompting a celebratory parade.
The fire company soon became an integral part of the Newark community, hosting banquets, carnivals, and bingo nights to raise money for equipment and firefighting gear. Formed in 1949, the Aetna Ladies Auxiliary has provided unwavering support for the company's members, from fundraising to providing hot meals for firefighters and their guests.
Today, Aetna is proud to be home to more than 20 highly decorated firefighters, EMS, and EMT members. Recent citations include Heroic EMT of the Year to Jeff Evans, Eric Barsky, Paul Testa, Steve Walls, and Garland Church, and Lt. John P. Murphy; EMT of the Year to Rob ``Dusty'' Sweetman, Joshua Rainey, Michael Shao, Kevin Eichinger, Theodorica Cenizal, Ann Gillespie, Arman Fardanesh, Laurel Petchel, and Melanie Patnaude; and Lifetime Achievement in EMS Awards to Diane Silverman, E. David Bailey, and Gene Niland. Aetna is also the home to 12 EMS Top Responders, including 4-time winner Eric B. Barsky.
The Delaware congressional delegation is proud to recognize the Aetna Hose Hook & Ladder Company and its team of first responders for 125 years of honorable service to the community of Newark, DE.