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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.”

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In 1991 International Paper Company made arrangements with the Fire Officers and Fire Commissioners to install a new air compressor at the Fire House to fill air bottles for all local Fire Companies as well as Mill bottles.  All air bottles are filled after each use allowing the firemen to have full bottles available at all times.  Ticonderoga firemen are one of the best equipped and most efficient companies in the North Country and they are proud of it.

“Officers for the year 1993 are:  Michael Parent, Chief; Paul LaRock, lst Assistant Chief; Jeff Burns, 2nd Assistant Chief; Henry Drinkwine, 3rd Assistant Chief, Larry Crossman, Captain; David Patnode, lst Lieutenant and Bruce Beuerleing, 2nd Lieutenant.

No man can hold one of these offices unless he has completed certain New York State Schools and keeps up with the ever-changing knowledge of fire fighting.

“Members of the Board of Fire Commissioners are:  Carl Perry, Eugene Alteri, Walter Rayno, Frank Charlton, Jack Broadhead and Tina Huestis

In 1946 the Ladies Auxiliary was formed to assist the firemen at fires, feeding them, making coffee, handing out gloves and hats to keep them warm and any other duties that they could perform.  They are still doing the same today.

“Many different fund raisers have been held by the Ladies Auxiliary to help benefit the Fire Department, purchasing equipment, turn-out gear, helmets, coats, gloves, breathing equipment, foam adapter, furnishing food and drinks at all fires.

“Early Ladies Auxiliary members in 1946 were:  Beatrice Bessett, Agnes Cook, Jennie Crammond, Madeline Crossman, Evelyn Fuller Wilma Thompson, Margaret Fulleer, Dorothy Hogle Elean Letson, Ruth McCaughin, Ella McKeown, Tessie “Trudeau, Anna Mintzer, Lorraine Moore, Beulah Olcott Rose Porter and Sophie St. Dennis.

“In 1983, under the leadership of James Burroughs, the Junior Firemen were organized in conjunction with Explorer Post #73.  All boys and girls 14 years of age or older were allowed to join.  This was the first organization of its kind.

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“The Junior fire fighters elected their own officers.  They were required to attend fire fighting schools and attend drills with the regular fire fighters.  They could not ride fire apparatus but were required to answer fire alarms, except auto accidents.  They were expected to observe fire fighters in actin and assist the firemen – pulling hose, racking hose, help change air bottles and lay out equipment on a large tarp that firemen may need.

“They have their own turn-out gear, helmets, rain coats and boots.  This experience is great for them and when they are 18 years of age they may join the Fire Department.  They are well prepared for this.  These people are a great help in fire emergencies.

“The Fire Company is proud of its heritage and continues to carry on the tradition set by the first members of the Ticonderoga Fire Department 120 or more years ago.  These volunteers are on call 24 house a day, 365 days a year.   (This ends Brown’s notes.)

There is another Ticonderoga Fire Department — Chilson Volunteer Fire Company.

Chilson Volunteer Fire Department Putts Pond Road, Ticonderoga, NY July 12, 2014

Chilson Volunteer Fire Department Putts Pond Road, Ticonderoga, NY July 12, 2014

Chilson Volunteer Fire Department Fire & Rescue - July 12, 2014

Chilson Volunteer Fire Department Fire & Rescue – July 12, 2014

At a special meeting of the Ticonderoga Town Board, held in the Justice of the Peace Room at the Community Building on July 7th, 1961 Supervisor – Francis E. Malaney; Justice of the Peace – William Henry: Justice of the Peace – Charles Schwardtfeger: and Councilman – Milford Palmer approved the Certificate of Incorporation of the Chilson Volunteer Company, Inc.

This incorporation approval allowed the Chilson Volunteer Fire Department “to act in the Town of Ticonderoga within a three-mile radius of Chilson Corners (intersection Route 73, Ticonderoga Schroon State Highway and Puts Pond Road) which Certificate of Incorporation is signed by John Hall, John Barnett, Karl Joubert, George Ferguson and Perry Clark.”

We invite you to visit the Ticonderoga Historical Society’s Firemen’s Exhibit at the Hancock House.  During the months of July and August we are open each day from 10 to 4.

If you have any historical – local or regional – fire department information or material that you wish to donate to our archival collection we would like to hear from you. 

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