Date: 10.30.2020

WYNNEWOOD, Pa. (Oct. 30, 2020) — As National Fire Prevention Month comes to a close, the Penn Wynne-Overbook Hills Fire Company marked the solemn anniversary of its only firefighter killed in the line of duty. Harold Beck Jr.  died on Oct. 30, 1988 at just 41 years old when he suffered a heart attack while fighting the nine-alarm fire at Kiddie City in Ardmore.

​Beck, a longtime volunteer firefighter, and the rest of the Penn Wynne company were called out in the early morning hours of Sunday, Oct. 30, 1988, around 3:20 a.m.  A passerby had reported seeing smoke coming from the Kiddie City building. First arriving units were met with heavy black smoke, prompting calls for additional fire companies to respond. Ultimately, the fire reached nine alarms with 300 firefighters from 11 companies fighting the blaze that had spread beyond Kiddie City and into adjacent buildings. The fire was placed under control at 6:42 a.m.; however, fire company equipment remained on location for days to assist with hotspots.

​Beck, who was from Havertown, was at the Kiddie City fire when he suffered a heart attack, which proved to be fatal. The company photographer, Beck was given a Firefighter’s Funeral and has been memorialized with a plaque in the firehouse

​“I was there that night,” said Ted Schmid, a longtime firefighter and now Chief of the Penn Wynne-Overbrook Hills Fire Company since 2018. “All of firefighters had fought back the fire and had been able to keep it from engulfing neighboring homes so the mood was jubilant, when Harold when down. Whenever you lose a man battling a blaze, it’s a devastating loss for the firehouse,e and we will never forget it. We will never forget Harold.”

​Chief Schmid noted that the company wanted to have a ceremony to remember Beck and say a few words on the anniversary of his death, but canceled the event due to safety concerns surrounding the pandemic. “We’ll have an event to celebrate him and his life when we can open up the firehouse to the public and share with them how special Harold was and how much of a sacrifice he made.”


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As Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday, Nov. 1 and residents turn clocks back one hour, Chief Schmid reminds Lower Merion residents to replace the batteries in smoke alarms. “The early warning provided by smoke alarms can save lives by alerting family members to fire and giving them time to get out of the house safely,” said Schmid.


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Penn Wynne - Overbrook Hills Fire Company
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Wynnewood, PA 19096

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