The department was formed in 1938 when a group of 40 residents decided it was necessary to have a fire company. That September, the company was established when a handful of men bought an old schoolhouse on Jackson Street from the Fife and Drum Corps for $1. The first two pieces of apparatus were soda acid tanks, purchased from its neighbor at the North Irwin Fire Company. At the time, soda acid tanks were considered cutting-edge technology. Two separate tanks — one filled with soda acid and the other with water — mixed together under pressure to spurt a foam that doused flames. Apparatus evolved from those tanks to sophisticated 500-gallon pumpers. Technology also changed so much that firefighters have detailed information about fires at their fingertips before they even leave the station.
Shafton, which is one of seven fire companies in North Huntingdon Township, is responsible for responding to 839 homes in about 4.5 square miles.The company responds to as many as 200 alarms a year. In addition to fires, firefighters pull injured people from cars after crashes and clear away downed trees from slick roads during storms.“This is a brotherhood,” said Ric Walker, a volunteer firefighter with 35 years of service. “Normal people do not run in a flaming building. As you're coming out, we're going in.”