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Ticonderoga Fire Department, Its Early History – Part II

This week we continue with the early history of the Ticonderoga Fire Department and related historical notes as written by Newton Brown (1927-2001), a long term Ticonderoga volunteer fireman and its historian:

“The objective of the Ticonderoga Volunteer Fire Company No 1. Inc. shall be the preservation and protection of life and property from and during such fires and emergencies as may occur in the Ticonderoga Fire District and other Districts wherein the company is called for assistance under mutual aid.”

” During the 1940’s, after World War II, the members and officers were working to update the fire department companies.  One item brought up was furnishing new rain coats for all firemen.  Members of the Village Board wanted black rain coast, the chief wanted red coats.  After many discussions red rain coats were purchased.  The rain coats remained in service into the late 70’s when drives were put on to purchase new fire fighting gear.  Iron helmets were still being worn in 1953.

“Also during the 1940’s,  approximately 1946, the chief and members asked for a new ladder truck.  Ladder trucks were rare in the North Country, but the officers and members felt this would improve their fire fighting ability especially chimney fires and some house fires.  The 1946 ladder truck was purchased and put in(to) service.  the new ladder truck was great for some fires on certain streets but on others there seemed a problem getting this truck up them because of the length of it.  Many pros and cons started showing up at meetings, on the streets and any place where there was a gathering.  (not much as changed since then)  Finally, in 1947 or early 1948 the village decided to sell the ladder truck and purchased a new 1949 pumper.

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“This was possibly the first ladder truck in the North Country.  (“Newt” mentioned they didn’t have any pictures of this truck and sought public assistance to obtain a photograph of this truck. If you do have any information, or photograph of this truck please contact us.)

“When the move was made to (a) fire district the fire trucks in service were as follows:  (O)ne 1960 American LaFrance Pumper, one 1969 American LaFrance pumper, a 1977 Ford pumper tanker holding 1,000 gallons of water, two tankers, one rescue van, and a 1952 ladder truck.  The 1952 ladder truck was purchased with money made through bingo funds.

“The second year of the fire district, the district purchased two new fire trucks from the Pierce Fire Equipment Company.  These trucks have 1500 gallon water tanks, and can carry six men.  They also have racks behind the seats that hold the breathing apparatus equipment enabling the men to don the air packs in route to the fire and be ready to do their job when arriving at the scene of the fire.  These trucks replaced the 1961 American LaFrance and the 1977 Ford pumper.  The oldest tanker was sold.  International Paper Company purchased the old ladder truck and helped purchase a later and newer ladder truck.  The members voted to spend their own money and purchased a better rescue truck and International Paper purchased the old rescue van for a hazard materials truck.

“The Fire Company not only fights fires but participates in all sorts of rescue.  Several years ago a money drive was put on and enough money was raised to buy the Jaws of Life equipment, and over the years the Fire Company has purchased new rescue. equipment to improve their abilities in rescue.

” In 1991, thanks to Mrs. William Vilardo, a large donation in memory of Dr. William Vilardo, was made to the Fire Company to purchase diving equipment.  Several members took the New York State diving instructions course and became qualified and now we have a seven man diving team that has already proved their worth.  We also have a boat and motor donated by International Paper Company which is being repaired and refurnished.

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” In 1990 a large group attended Ice Water Rescue Schools held here in Ticonderoga and Westport.  Ice Water Rescue suits have been purchased plus other equipment and now we have a well-trained Ice Water Rescue Team.

“The members of the Ticonderoga Fire Company train in all types of rescue.  They train for at least two hours each Tuesday all year-long and on several weekends a year to learn their equipment and improve their working skills.  Most fires that would have been total losses have been held to partial or little damage due to the skills of the firemen.  They are more prepared than ever to combat any emergency that may arise and are always improving their skills.

(At this point of typing “Newt’s notes I am reminded of another man’s remembrance words spoken at a Firemen’s Memorial Service by the well know local attorney of the time, Frank B. Wickes (1859-1934), delivered at Ticonderoga’s  Union opera house, May 1907 – wgd:)

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“…because of their faithfulness, year in and year out; by day and by night, in the heat of the summer day, and in the cold … their work and struggle was with a form of enemy, a force of nature, perhaps the most interesting and terrible of all — fire… one of the four elements of the ancient philosophers who divide the material world into air, earth, water and fire.  …fire, which is man’s fest friend, is also his worst enemy.  This indispensable servant that for thousands of years has accompanied humanity on the shining way, which this servant itself has illuminated, every now and then turns fiercely upon its master, and struggles for a cruel supremacy.

“In that appalling moment the fireman intervenes to protect us, to guard our property and lives, to stand between us and danger, to hold back from us the most powerful and cruel of our enemies, an enemy that forever lurks in the midst of civilization, that some times seems to grow stronger and more dangerous with the advancement of civilization and the progress of the race.

Society owes no greater debt to any class of men that it was to its fireman…voluntary firemen of the country villages, who serve without pay, and add this arduous service to their regular work in life, are entitled to equal, if not greater, honor: These men whose gratuitous work is so necessary to the prosperity and even the existence of that American village life, which has such advantages, attractions, and possibilities.”