The South Bowers Volunteer Association was founded and financially supported by T.C Beswick, MD. In 1927. The Association’s first piece of apparatus was a well-used Model T Pumper purchased from the Upper Darby Fire Company in PA. The pumper was purchased by Doctor Beswick and donated to the South Bowers Community to get the association going. The pumper was housed in a wooden garage belonging to Mr. Clayton Kirby on the south end of South Bowers Beach. The close-knit organization filed an application to join, was accepted and incorporated with the Kent County Volunteer Fireman’s Association on June 27, 1930. The name changed from the South Bowers Volunteer Association to the South Bowers Volunteer Fire Company, Inc.
In 1931, by use of fund raisers and donations, the second vehicle was purchased. It was a well-used red Model T that was used as the Chiefs car. The first official Fire Chief was Mr. William Purnell Powell. Mr. Powell served for many years as Chief as the struggling organization grew stronger.
The South Bowers Fire Company members fireman’s wives raised $275 to purchase land for a proper firehouse at the North End of the beach in 1931. The land was purchased from Mr. Francis A. Webb Jr. and Mrs. Sarah E. Webb. The new firehouse, unique in its construction, was built of blocks pressed from a mud like material that hardened with age. The building was flooded, burnt, and damaged many times during its use as a firehouse and much of the early records were destroyed. Cement blocks were eventually used to reinforce the structure as years went by and the tide ebbed and flowed. Renovations to the building seemed to be an on-going event.
December 1932 was the make or break month when a fire driven by gale winds and snow destroyed 20 wooden cottages facing the Murderkill River and the Delaware Bay. Embers kindled 4 cottages on the North Bowers side of the Murderkill River as well. The fire house was damaged but not totally destroyed. A total of 12 mutual aid companies, from both Kent and Sussex counties, responded help extinguish the flames.
During the war years of 1943 and 1944, the Company raised just enough money to purchase a small parcel of land on the Murderkill River. The parcel of land was located down the street from the firehouse. This land served as a safe place to draft river water in order to help fight fires and dock a boat. The land is still owned by the fire company and used presently to dock a 2019 state of the art rescue/fire boat.
The Fire Company purchased a large parcel of land from Mr. Clinton Adams on the corner of Scotts Corner Road and Thompsonville Road. The land is located near the center of the fire district. In early 1970 the new firehouse was constructed and called the Thompsonville sub-station. This substation housed a rescue, engine and tanker. On April 8, 1972 the Fireman’s wives became an Auxiliary that help fund raise for the Fire Company.
As time went by the Fire Company out grew the need for the original station at the beach and the building was sold. The building is still in use today as a home. Some of the characteristics of a firehouse can still be seen.
The present station located n Scotts Corner and Thompsonville Roads as expanded through careful planning and creative financing. Presently the station consists of 2 buildings which house a 6000-gallon Tractor Trailer, 2 Engines, 1 Rescue Pumper, 2 Brush Trucks, 1 Air Boat, 1 Rescue/Fire Boat, HAZMAT trailer, 2.5 Deuce-army truck, Command Vehicle, and 1 UTV with skid unit.
Listen to live fire-
from the Kent