About Undercliff Volunteer Fire Company
Undercliff is completely volunteer and is there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our members have dedicated countless time over many years training, fundraising, and maintaining our department to provide the absolute best protection and services to the members of our community. Shaler Township does not have a fire tax like other municipalities do, and therefore, we depend on the residents of our district to make donations to allow us to have up-to-date equipment to keep you, your family, and our members safe.
Undercliff Volunteer Fire Company gives emergency protection to the residents of Undercliff's fire district and all other fire departments in Shaler Township, as well as mutual aid emergency services to the neighboring communities of Etna Borough, Hampton Township, Ross Township, Millvale Borough, and Indiana Township.
We thank you in advance for your continued support of Undercliff, and in return, we will maintain the same quailty service and protection that we have been providing since 1909.
UNDERCLIFF HISTORY 1998 TO PRESENT:
The beginning of the new millennium was also bringing changes to Undercliff. Once the Mack Aerialscope was placed back in service from it's refurbishment, discussions were then being held on what to do with the 1978 Mack Pumper that was purchased a few years earlier from Cherry City VFC. The question was to refurbish or purchase a new pumper. There were pros and cons to both, especially with the fine job of refurbishment that was done on the aerial. After many discussions, the appointed committee and the membership believed that the prudent thing to do was replace the pumper with a new one. A committee was formed, and they decided to have open meetings, in which members could have input into the specs of the new truck. This concept was quite successful, and in November, 1999, Undercliff took delivery of a 2000 Freightliner/4Guys 1500 GPM pumper. The 1978 Mack pumper was sold to Clymer, Pa VFD. A couple of years later, right after the September 11 attacks, more discussion was held on updating our fleet. As a result of that discussion, it was decided to replace the 1983 Ford Van squad unit with a 2002 Chevrolet 2500 HD 4x4 crew cab pick up truck to be utilized as a squad unit. This truck proved more practical for hauling wet hose and pumping detail equipment, along with a five man crew. The Ford van was sold to Millvale Fire Dept, where it continued to serve a few more years until it's demise in the line of duty during the Hurricane Ivan flooding on September 17, 2004.
In 2004, a few members of Undercliff attended the Pittsburgh Fire Expo. While at the Expo, they discovered a demonstrator 100 ft Ladder Tower. The demonstrator truck was then brought to Undercliff a few times, so the membership could see the truck for themselves. After some investigation into finances, and the feasibility of purchasing this truck, it was decided to go ahead and purchase this new unit. In order to accomplish this, two units had to be sold. It was decided to sell the 1991 Mack Special Operations truck (SOV), since it was underutilized anyway, and the 1978 Mack Aerialscope. The SOV was sold to Hudson Falls, NY Fire Dept, where it now serves as their rescue truck. The Aerialscope was sold to Benwood, WV Fire Dept, replacing a similar type truck. In February, 2005, Undercliff took delivery of the 2004 KME Aerial Cat 100ft Ladder Tower truck. This truck had a longer and walkable ladder which improved firefighter safety. This is the first 100ft ladder truck in Shaler Twp history.
Undercliff's changes did not just end with purchase of vehicles. In 2005, we received a grant from FEMA. This grant totaled $161,000. With this grant, we were able to replace all of our air masks and spare bottles. We also replaced and in fact added additional portable radios, in which every firefighter in the mask seats of the pumper and aerial. This improves safety and communications on the fire ground. New gas powered trash pumps, along with 10 electric portable sump pumps were purchased for use during flooding. An additional portable gas generator was also purchased. An in house Plymovent ventilation system was installed in the fire station. This enables the trucks to run inside the building, and is very helpful during maintenance. Without this grant, we would have not been able to make these needed purchases and upgrades to our fire company equipment.
The past several years have also seen an upgrade in training. Several members have taken the extra step to obtain their Firefighter I certifications, and a couple have even went on to Firefighter II. In addition, Undercliff members have obtained EMT certification, EVOC, HAZMAT training, training in CPR and First Aid, Truck Ops, Basic Vehicle Rescue Tech, to name a few. Members are always encourage to take additional training, in addition to the Essentials of Firefighting course.
In 2005, after one failed attempt a year or so before, Undercliff instituted the Junior Firefighter program. Since then, the junior program has taken off, and has been a success. These young members, under the age of 18, have attended the first three modules of Essentials, have been instrumental in the continued success of the bingo, and other fundraisers. One of the juniors even serves as co-webmaster of the fire company website. The hope is that these valuable young members continue their dedication to Undercliff and the fire service well into adulthood.
The future of the volunteer fire service and Undercliff will prove to be a challenge in the future. With the ever increasing costs of equipment, limited opportunities for fundraising, increase in the hours required for completion of the Essentials of Fire Fighting course, it will certainly be a challenge to attract and retain members into the future. Hopefully, as history has shown, the members of Undercliff will rise to the challenges at hand.