Westmoreland County was created by an Act of Assembly, approved by Gov. Richard Penn, on February 26, 1773. The word "Westmoreland " means Land of the Western Moors. At one time Westmoreland County included all the territory that encompasses the present Westmoreland, Washington, Fayette, Greene, Allegheny, Butler, Beaver, Crawford, Erie, Mercer and Lawrence counties and portions of Indiana, Armstrong, Venango and Warren counties. Rostraver Twp., our friends immediately to the east, was one of the first 11 townships established by the courts. 99 years later, on April 9, 1872, L. M. Speer laid out what was to become North Belle Vernon. The words "Belle Vernon" mean Beautiful Green. It is believed that L. M. Speer stood across the river, on what is now the Borough of Speers, and looked at Belle Vernon Borough. The entire "bluff" above Belle Vernon was tree covered and located away from the many businesses located along the river. The new location was developed as a residential area and was not easy to access from the already established business oriented town. He wanted to maintain the Beautiful Green thought and added the word "North" to differentiate the new developments. North Belle Vernon was officially Incorporated as a borough on February 26, 1876. Sam Dougherty, a carpenter and early pioneer to North Belle Vernon, was probably one of the most influential men in the early history of the borough and has ties to the current fire department. He established a school in his carpenters shop along with an area for local government activities. Along with being a carpenter he served as Justice of the Peace, Councilman, School Director and Judge of Elections. On July 17, 1876 he was instrumental in building the first schoolhouse located near the center of the borough on Graham St. The schoolhouse continued to grow and eventually housed Kindergarten through 12th grade and covered 3/4 of a city block. Schools grew and merged. North Belle Vernon schools became Vernon Joint Schools, then Bellmarette Joint Schools, then Belle Vernon Area Schools. After the school was closed, Heritage Hills Christian Academy and Tabernacle occupied the building. The next owner of the property was the North Belle Vernon Fire Department. Our present fire station sits on this property.
The North Belle Vernon Fire Department was organized in December of 1895. Our equipment consisted of a hose cart, 500' of hose and a straight tip nozzle. The hose cart was housed in various garages throughout the borough until more modern equipment was purchased and a building was erected at the site of our present public works garage. In 1959 a fire station-police station-council chambers-library was erected on Arch St.
We outgrew the building and found ourselves renting space to house all of our vehicles. The old schoolhouse was purchased and demolished. Our new station was constructed with enough room to house all of our vehicles in drive-through bays, provide offices for the chiefs and administrative officers, a meeting/training room, a day room for member comforts, a kitchen and ample storage areas. Recently a helo-stop was constructed and a training structure was added.
Philadelphia Fire Museum
Westmoreland County 87
Fire Department Somerset, PA