The Borough of Easton was without a fire department of any sort when in 1793, the Borough Council met and discussed - among other topics - the need for a fire engine. It was three years later, in 1796, when action was finally taken and a pump was ordered from Philip Mason.
On February 14, 1797, the Humane Fire Company was organized. The 35 members became Easton's first fire company. When the Borough's new pump arrived in May of 1797, the men of the Humane Fire Company were granted permission to use it.
After the Batt house on North Fourth Street burned down, the fire company decided it would be necessary to raise money for the purchase of 80 feet of fire hose to use with the fire engine. In 1867 the Humane Fire Company acquired its first steam-powered fire engine. This piece of apparatus was purchased from the Northampton Fire Company. However, it was replaced only three years later in 1870 since some of the firemen were not particularly happy with it. When the second steam-powered fire pump was determined to be too heavy, it was promptly replaced with a third steam-powered pump that was somewhat lighter in weight.
The Humane Fire Company was first located on North Third Street near the Lutheran Church. It later moved to a location around the corner on Church Street, where it remained until relocating once again to Centre Square in 1851. When the City's paid department was established in 1879, the members of the Humane Fire Company continued to hold annual meetings in which they recounted the long and illustrious service they provided as the Borough of Easton's first fire company.
During the period of time between the founding of the Humane Fire Company in 1797 and the establishment of the full-time paid department, numerous other fire companies appeared in the Borough. The first of these was the Phoenix Fire Company. Organized on January 24, 1824, they were first housed behind the old County House. In 1858, they moved to the 200 block of Ferry Street. There are two events in the history of this organization that are of particular interest. The first took place in 1858 and concerned the purchase of the first alarm bell in the city. The second event, occurring in 1865, was the purchase of the first steam-powered fire engine in the Lehigh Valley. This piece of apparatus was a horse-drawn engine modeled on the Amoskeag pattern. Several years later, a horse-drawn carriage of the same pattern was purchased. In order to pay for this equipment, the members of the Phoenix Fire Company hauled merchandise and sprinkled the Borough's streets with water.
A third fire company, the Washington Fire Company, was organized on January 24, 1840. Located first in the 600 block of Walnut Street, they later moved to a house on South Sixth Street between Pine and Ferry Streets. The members of this company operated one hand pump. In 1862 they moved to a brick house, also located on Sixth Street. In 1869 the old hand pump was replaced with a steam-powered engine, and a year later, in 1870, an alarm bell was added to the house. When the city's paid department took over fire protection services, this same building became Central Fire Station, and the alarm bell was purchased by the city for continued use.
For more history, please download The History of the Easton Fire Department (PDF) by Firefighter Tom Underwood.