Reading Can boast many “firsts” in the history of fire protection, not the least which is the proud position of the Rainbow company which is now the oldest volunteer fire company in America in continuous existence. Another first is the fact that the Reading Junior Fire Company was the first company to engage the services of an official photographer. Distinguished in his own right as a skillful photographer, Nick Phillipson, of Reading bears the honor of being the first official fire photographer; he bears it with becoming pride and modesty.
Tucked neatly into his wallet, Mr. Phillipson, better known to his friends as Nick, Carries the membership cards of many Berks County fire companies. To those who have won his friendship he shows the cars, proudly reading slowly in order that the full and exact name of each company be registered in the minds of his auditors. As we write we recall seeing cards of membership in Mt. Penn Fire Company, Shartlesville Community Fire Company, Bernville Community, Leesport Union, Blandon Fire Company, Keystone Fire Company of Rehresburg, the Lincoln Park Fire Company and of course the Reading Junior Fire Company. There are several others.
Intrigued by his array of evidence of civic-mindedness we asked the many-times member just why he affiliated himself with so many companies, scattered in widely separated corners of Berks County. This is the spirited answer we received:
“I consider the volunteer fire company as the highest type of civic organization because it exists to save both life and property and it is the purest form of unselfish service to one’s community.”
Pumper from the Reading Junior Fire Company. Image courtesy of the Historical Society of Berks County.