As the southern end of York was without close fire protection, a group of residents and manufacturers met in the home of Peter Selak on South George Street for the purpose of organizing a fire company on May 21, 1872. The group met again on May 28, and circulated a petition to formally organize the group. On June 4, the petition was signed and presented at another meeting where a slate of officers was elected and the name of the Rescue Steam Fire Engine and Hose Company was adopted. A committee was appointed to solicit funds for the purchase of a new steam fire engine.
On July 25, 1872, a committee was authorized to rent the Reinberger cooper shop on East South Street to use as an engine house. On November 7, the company decided to purchase a steam fire engine from Cole Brothers of Pawtucket, Rhode Island for $3,500.00. The steamer arrived in York on February 21, 1873. A hose carriage was obtained from Spangler’s Carriage Shop on July 16, 1873.
At the October 2, 1873 general business meeting of the company, it was decided that the Rescue should have a more permanent home. A committee was appointed to purchase a lot at 346 South George Street to erect a new engine house. On July 8, 1875 the new engine house, a three story brick building with bell tower was dedicated and the engine moved from the former cooper shop around the corner.
In 1900, the Rescue erected a monument in Penn Common to perpetuate its memory and that of the firemen. The monument consisted of a granite pedestal upon which is a life-size bronze figure of a Rescue fireman in full uniform carrying a child.
On July 16, 1915, the Rescue purchased its first piece of motorized equipment, a Boyd Chemical and Hose truck with two 40-gallon Holloway chemical tanks. On July 25, 1919 an American LaFrance triple combination engine was purchased for $11,500.00.
By 1926, tragedy had struck the ranks of York’s firemen six times, and the York companies searched for some type of a memorial to these men. At a special meeting in June of 1928, the Rescue membership agreed to remove its name from the monument and share it with the other companies as a tribute to those killed in the line of duty. A bronze dedication plaque was affixed to the pedestal, as well as an honor roll of those killed in the line of duty. This monument is now on the lawn of the York County Fire Museum.
On January 28, 1970, the Rescue station was closed and its apparatus relocated to the Laurel fire station. In the summer of 1970, the station was reopened to house the city’s ambulance service, which operated out of the station until 1983, when it was relocated to the Lincoln fire station. The ambulance service was disbanded in 1985.
The former Rescue station remained vacant and used for store by the city until sold to a private individual and is now used as the offices for a masonry business. Members of the Rescue Fire Company continue to serve as volunteer firefighters and fire police.