About Us

History of the Department

In the 1950’s the population of White Oak had been growing for some time and with that the need for public safety services was increasing. Various informal meetings and taken place but in November 1954 a formal meeting was held and a group of White Oak borough citizens met to discuss forming a second fire company for White Oak borough; these citizens would become the first members of the newly forming fire company. The name for this new fire company was decided to be Rainbow Volunteer Fire Company due to its proximity to the Rainbow Gardens Amusement Park that made White Oak famous in the early decades of the 1900’s. While the amusement park is long gone, the Rainbow Volunteer Fire Company still proudly bears this name today. In May 1955, the Rainbow Volunteer Fire Company of White Oak Borough was granted its’ charter and officially recognized as a fire company.

It was decided the location for the fire station would be as close to the geographic center of White Oak as possible in order to facilitate a fast response for firefighters from all over the borough. After operating at several temporary locations, the permanent station was established at its current location of 2916 Jacks Run Road. The land for this station was sold to the RVFC by the Wisser family for a cost of $1,000 with the intention that it be used to build a fire station and allowed then to pay that off over time. Even though the borough has changed very much over the years, the Rainbow VFC fire station is still located in the geographic center of White Oak.

Money was hard to come by in the early days of the Rainbow VFC and at the second formal meeting firefighter David Coe presented a jar for the firefighters to put their own money to be able to buy the Rainbow VFC’s first fire truck. Through their own donations and aggressive fundraising, the fire company was able to purchase their first fire engine which was a used 1936 Dodge pumper for $800. The foundation of hard work and selflessness laid by these early firefighters has been engrained in the culture of the Rainbow VFC and still proudly displayed by its firefighters today; the firefighters today like to refer to themselves as the hardest working firefighters in the Mon-Valley. In addition to fundraising for a new fire company the early firefighters of the Rainbow VFC spent a lot of time training to make sure they would be ready to respond when needed. Rainbow VFC has also been fortunate during its entire existence to have had a long history of social/ associate members who have donated their time to help the fire company through volunteering their time at various fundraisers and fire company events. Even though these members do not answer the 911 calls that the firefighters do their contributions have helped the fire company in many other ways and we have always been happy to have them as part of our family. The RVFC has always had a family atmosphere amongst its firefighters and that has carried still into the present.

Fast forward to today and you will find the Rainbow VFC and its firefighters still working hard to protect the citizens of White Oak with the membership made up 100% by volunteers. These women and men volunteer countless hours of their own time to answering 911 calls, training, fundraising, and maintenance; the only compensation they receive is the satisfaction that comes from helping their fellow White Oak citizens or any who call for their help. Much like our name we have had a very diverse group of firefighters over the years which has only strengthened us by giving us a variety of backgrounds and shared experiences of our membership. We have always operated with the idea of- if you are a good person and have the desire to help others then we have a spot for you!

From the early days of the Rainbow Volunteer Fire Company up to today, the RVFC firefighters are known throughout Western Pennsylvania as a group of hard working, no nonsense firefighters; if you have a job that that needs done on a fire or other emergency, call the firefighters from 300 because you know they will get the job done! Our unofficial motto of “Show Up, Work Hard, Go Home” is displayed on our apparatus and a calling card to who we are and what we do.

December 1954:
– Meeting to form another fire company in White Oak borough

– Meeting held at Berkey’s Inn Wednesday December 22 1954 (held many early meetings here)
– First officers as follows:

  • President: Ernest Stafford Fire Chief Carl Berquist
  • Vice President: David Coe Assistant Chief James Skillet
  • Treasurer: William Coe Captain Clyde Slease
  • Secretary: Raymond Lyons, Lieutenants George Lyall and Allan Edmunson
  • Trustees: Joseph Volpe, Carl Berquist, David Thomas, George Lyall

February 1955:
– Company is officially named the Rainbow Volunteer Fire Company of White Oak Borough by its membership

March 1955:
– Initial bank balance was $47.01 when first account was opened

May 1955:
– Fire Chief Macpherson of Boston VFD (Elizabeth Township) offers to assist the company with buying their first fire apparatus- a 1936 Dodge fire engine. He fronted the money and told the fire company they could pay him back in a zero-interest loan. (loan payed off by September)

– Officially received charter

– An agreement is made with the other fire company in White Oak (White Oak VFC #1) that the first arriving/ highest ranking line officer from either department on scene would be the officer in charge. This represents the first formal agreement between both fire companies.

October 1955:
– First siren placed in service

November 1955:
– First fire call answered- a woodshed on fire on Foster Road

April 1956:
– RVFC agrees to operate a ride at Rainbow Gardens amusement park on weekends- eventually named the “Little Chief”. The fire company also takes over operation of the roller rink at Rainbow Gardens. Fire company to operate these at a split of 40-60 until an initial investment payment is repaid and then it would go to 60-40 in favor of the fire company.

August 1956:
– Fire company housed at Holland Inn (one of the many locations the fire engine was housed in)
First place of operation for the fire company was an old auction building on Long Run Road. Next was basement of a service station near Jacks Run Road- had to vacate eventually because of a major flood. Operations then moved to Rainbow Gardens for some time. Fire company then moved to the Old Spring Inn on Stewartsville Hollow but had to vacate this area when the building caught on fire. Next stop was a service station on Coulter Road but had to leave here when the place went out of business. Fire apparatus was then stored at Beelok’s garage until they purchased the Wisser property. Cy Wisser sold the property to the fire company at an extremely low price with the condition that it be used to build a fire station.

– A motion was made to look into purchasing the land next to Berkey’s Inn (the current location)

Charter members– It was decided at the meeting on March 31, 1957 that anyone who was a member at this meeting and before would be considered charter members. They were the following:
Albert Anchak, Carl Berquist, James Black, David Coe, William Coe, Kenneth Ditmore, Allan Edmunson, Thomas Fields, Lester Gilkey, Robert Helsop, Jesse Hoffman, Joseph Horvath, James Hall, Daniel Karr, Walter Keefer, Jack Kinkaid, John Kobak, George Lyall, Glenn McElravy, Gerald McKenzie, Robert Lindhal, Warren Rankin, Albert Riemenschneider, Clyde Riemenschneider, Charles Roler, Clyde Slease, Andrew Vango, Joseph Volpe, Edward Williamson, William Rankin

October 1956:
– purchased the Wisser property for $1,000

February 1957:
– bought an old Menzie Dairy truck for $75- first squad vehicle

May 1957:
– bank loan taken out for $18,000 to build a station

August 1957:
– Slag acquired from National Tube plant to build up the area the new fire station would go.

*No meeting minutes exist from 1958- 1978 due to them being lost from a fire at the station. Only have records of what are in the yearly picture books*

– First new fire apparatus bought- FWD
– Throughout the 70’s and 80’s there were multiple dances, bingos, social events, fire department weddings, and flea markets were held at the station all to try to fundraise money.

– Young fire apparatus manufacturer Tele-Squrt is bought and put in service. This type of apparatus has proven to be a perfect type of vehicle for White Oak that there have been three of these “Tele-Squrt” type apparatuses purchased since this one and we still use one today.

January 1977:
– Fire station catches on fire. While much is lost, the members take great pride in the fact that the fire company was never out of service and operated at various garages throughout White Oak while working to get a replacement station built. The replacement station was designed to be a 5 bay garage with a social hall to replace the 2 bay garage that had been lost in the fire. This ambitious plan for the future ensured the new station was large enough and able to still be functional for us all today.

June 1981:
– Bought an old Army truck for $1,000 with the intention of making it a water tanker. This unit had to be sold because the insurance company at the time would not insure it but this idea was ahead of its time as many fire departments have done the same thing in the years since.

– became one of the first fire companies to switch to 5” for supply line from 3” hose- more water able to be delivered with the benefit of less friction loss

– First fish fry is held; has become our most popular fundraiser

– membership voted to discontinue bingo- last bingo held on March 16th

April 1989:
– Advertising billboard in the parking lot is installed; still there today

December 1989:
– bought FMC/International fire truck for $95,000. This apparatus becomes the first “Rescue” apparatus in White Oak borough.

June 1990:
– First gun ticket sold; this is the precursor to our sportsmen’s bash fundraiser.

November 1991:
– Purchased a 1982 ambulance to be used as an air truck from Accident Ambulance Sales

– first year of a joint fund drive with both fire companies

September 1996:
– Motion is made to buy a utility vehicle from Bob Massie car dealer. 1997 Ford F-350 for $26659. First pick-up truck purchased

January 1998:
– motion made to buy a new 50’ Tele-squirt (ended up purchasing from Seagrave)

January 1999:
– Switched from Mon-Yough Dispatch to Allegheny County for dispatch
– went from station 31 to Allegheny County Station 300

April 1999:
– mortgage paid off in the final amount of $47,931.62

April 2004:
– parking lots paved for the first time by Caruso paving- cost $40,982

September 2004:
-major renovation of kitchen begins to what it looks like today

– a federal grant is received for gym equipment. RVFC has one of the best volunteer fire station gyms in the area and makes a large investment by building an addition on to the fire station to house the gym equipment

June 2009:
–  first Knox boxes installed in White Oak borough. RVFC still runs this program today

March 2011:
– Special Service-300 purchased new from 4 Guys fire apparatus for $184,703. This purchase was made to address the many difficult to access addresses in White Oak where the conventional fire apparatus cannot go.

– RVFC members begin wildland fire training and become a regional asset for wildland fire responses

– the unofficial motto of “Show up, Work hard, Go home” is adopted by our firefighters and is how we operate.

Mission Statement

“Here for the safety of White Oak and its neighbors. When you need us – we will be there for you!”

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