History of the East Glenville Fire Department

Written by Lew Denton, Department Historian (and active firefighter since October 1961)

On September 1, 1943, a group of taxpayers interested in obtaining fire protection for the East Glenville area, met in the Gleason Schoolhouse to discuss the formation of a fire department. Through subsequent meetings, and with the aid of J. Leslie Schoolcraft, coordinator of civilian defense in Schenectady County, firematic and first aid courses were instituted covering a ten week period. In the meantime, a fire company was organized with Raymond Stine, President; James L. Boyd, Secretary; and George David, Treasure. Firematic officers elected were John Heckeler, Chief; George Smith, Assistant Chief; and Roy V. Safford, Forman.

On May 6, 1944, an O.C.D. trailer-pumper and the necessary fire fighting equipment was delivered to the company and housed temporarily in a loaned garage. A truck chassis was loaned to the company by Emil Pahl, Sr., on which a 600 gallon water tank was mounted. The funds for this project were obtained through donations by various members of the company as well as area residents. The newly formed East Glenville Fire Company was now in a position to offer the residents of East Glenville fire fighting and first aid services as well as training for new firefighters. Necessary petitions were circulated for the formation of a Fire District and at a public hearing held September 5, 1944, the East Glenville Fire District No. 3 was approved. The first Board of Fire Commissioners was approved by the town board December 14, 1944, and were: D.A. Ennos; O. Lyone; H. Miller; R.V. Safford; G.F. Koch; and George A. David, Treasurer.

Through the foresight and generosity of Raymond Stine and Roy V. Stafford, who obtained an option on the Opdyke property located opposite the junction of Charlton Road and Saratoga Road, a bond issue was approved at a meeting held March 27, 1945, for the amount of $14,000 to be used for the purchase of the Opdyke property for a fire house, one fully equipped pumper and a new truck chassis for the 600 gallon water tank. The East Glenville Fire Department was finally established.

Fortunately for the District, because of a General Electric Company labor strike that lasted for over two months, many of the district firemen employed by G.E. spent their time rebuilding the firehouse. Money was raised by holding paper drives, clambakes, etc., to pay for the remodeling.

On February 4, 1946, the underwriters, after an inspection, gave approval for a fire insurance reduction from $1.10 to $.70 and rated the East Glenville Fire Department with the best in the State.

In 1948, a 1929 truck chassis was obtained and made into our first squad truck, and the first neighborhood water cisterns were constructed with funds donated by the area citizens. During this period advanced training was received by many members under the State Fire Training Plan.

During the years 1950 to 1952, the emphasis was on more training and the construction of more cisterns. The purchase of another chassis, the Black Maria, of the Schenectady Police Department, was realized with funds derived from paper drives.

The year 1953 saw the beginning of a new public service. During this time, the Glenridge Grange #1544 presented the Department with an E&J Resuscitator. A training program for its operation was instituted, and many lives were saved by its operation. Assessed values of homes also changed in 1953 from $1,057,210 in 1946 to $3,535,440. This meant it was imperative that the Department kept up with the needs of a growing community. Through many public meetings and group discussions, a bond issue for $125,000 was approved for the construction of a new fire house, the purchase of a new pumper, and the construction of more cisterns.

1954 saw the first two-way radios installed in three of our trucks. Two were purchased and the third was donated by members. With the addition of these radios, direct contact with all of the other fire departments in Schenectady County was possible, thus giving us a quick, efficient system of contacting other departments for help when we needed it. During this period, the community grew from about 450 homes to approximately 1,700 homes with an assessed valuation of $5,320,000.

In 1959 the Company started a program, with the help of the Ladies Auxiliary, of placing radio monitors in each fireman's home. These monitors notified the firemen when there was a call. Now, instead of hearing the siren and going to the station to find out what the call was, the firemen would know immediately. Two matching pieces of fire apparatus were added in 1960, an American LaFrance 750 gallon per minute pumper and a Triple Combination Squad Truck.

The first baby sitter's course in this part of the State was started in 1962 with the graduation of sixty children. The course consisted of four sessions: child care, first-aid, fire safety and home security. This course is still offered through our department, and has provided thousands of local children with the training needed to be responsible baby sitters.

1964 was the year that the Chief's vehicle was given a radio. Now the chief was able to talk to incoming emergency vehicles as well as dispatchers for mutual aid when needed. The apparatus room was redesigned in 1964 and an addition was later made to the rear of the building in 1968.

1966 saw the creation of a water district and the installation of our first hydrants, which gave us a maximum flow in the business area of 3200 gallons per minute. By the time the water system was completed the district was over 95% covered by hydrants.

In 1967 a 1250 GPM American La France Engine was received; it was one of the first diesels in the Capital District. 1968 saw the end of our 1000 gallon tanker. The tank was removed and a walk-in body was installed, making this our first rescue truck which would carry four firefighters inside with all the necessary medical equipment. During 1970, a two-way base station was installed, giving us the capability of setting off our home alert system, commuicating to our trucks, as well as the town fire dispatcher.

In 1971, a planning committee was appointed to study our needs for an aerial truck in the next five years. In 1972 it was decided to move forward and purchase an aerial truck as the Fire District was growing at the rate of $1,000,000 per year. Specifications were drawn up along with plans for the required addition to the station. In August 1973 a bond issue for $245,000 was approved.

In October 1973 bids were awarded for the addition to the north side of the station and a ladder tower from Hahn Motor Corporation. The new bay was completed in the spring of 1974; the ladder tower was delivered in June 1975. At this time we also obtained our first supply of 4" hose; 1000' was delivered and placed on our water supply engine.

January 1975 saw the beginning of a new Firematic Officer structure with the creation of a 2nd Assistant Chief, Truck Captain, Engine Captain, and a 5th Lieutenant. The positions of 1st and 2nd Sergeants were dissolved.

In 1976 the Fire District's valuation had climbed to $85,444,945 and more construction was still going on. In 1977, the first Hurst Tool "Jaws of Life" was purchased for extrication work at car accidents. Lockers were added in the apparatus room for the firemen's' turnout clothes. By 1978 the full valuation of the District had climbed to $114,588,502. In 1979 the old tank truck chassis (1954), which had the rescue body was replaced with a 1979 chassis and walk-in box with both inside and outside compartments for equipment. The fire phones (used to receive incoming emergency calls) were removed from the eight firemens' homes where they had been placed (and answered by the firemens' wives) and placed in the Scotia Fire station. By this time all the firemen had fire alert monitors in their homes and some were even beginning to receive pagers that they could carry with them away from their homes.

Between 1980 and 1981, the two 1960 American La France Engines were replaced with a 1000 GPM pumper and a 250 GPM mini pumper from Emergency One. During 1982 a State Police car was purchased and transformed into a Chief's vehicle. Up until this time each chief had to use their own vehicle. 1982 saw the first women join our department, this also gave us the first husband and wife team. In 1983 an Eagle air compressor was installed in the station; this allowed us to fill our own air bottles rather than take them to Scotia or Rotterdam.

In 1984 the fire district was 40 years old and had grown to a valuation of over $159,000,000, consisting largely of residential homes. There were three shopping areas; Willowbrook Shopping Center, Mayfair Shopping Center, and K-Mart Plaza. In 1985 we replaced our first diesel (1967 American La France) with a 1985 Sutphen 2000 GPM pumper with a hose reel on the rear which held 1200' of 4" supply hose. This truck is still in service and boasts the highest GPM pump in service in the County.

During 1986, alarms were averaging between 30 and 40 calls per month - with the majority being medical emergencies. Our membership was holding between 60 and 68, with about 24 EMT's (Emergency Medical Technicians) and First Responders. A Training Officer was appointed to ensure the firefighters were up to date on the equipment and training. 1986 also saw the installation of a natural gas generator in the basement of the station which had an automatic change-over when the outside power failed. This allowed our alert system to be operational at all times. By this time all of our members had pagers to alert them when there was a call. A position of Station Manager was also formed at this time to help keep up with the maintenance of the nine (9) fire vehicles and station upkeep.

In 1991 a point system was created (an incentive to help keep our membership). A firefighter had to make 10% of all of the calls, drills and meetings each year to qualify for a pension credit, which would be paid at age 62.

In 1992 a Pierce 1250 GPM Engine with a 10 man cab was purchased. By this time we were no longer allowing firefighters to ride on the outside of any of our emergency vehicles. This Engine replaced our 1981 E-One Engine which was then sold to another fire department.

By January 1993 the fire district had grown to a full valuation of $238,260,875 and a membership of 68, including four women firefighters. The Board of Fire Commissioners had appointed a committee to study the growing needs of the fire station over the next five years to meet the growth of the community and the possible widening of Rt. 50. The Committee in charge of upgrading our present facility hired an architect to make recommendations on whether to expand our present facility or build a new one. 1993 also saw the formation of the East Glenville Tactical Rope Team. Both the East Glenville Fire Department as well as the Plotterkill Fire Department in Rotterdam participated in the first New York State Rope Rescue Class. This class was a pilot program, and in fact many of the recommendations made by the firefighters were used to write the present training manual. The East Glenville Tactical Rope Team has made numerous rescues and recoveries since 1993, the most recent being the rescue of three young boys from the Lock 9 River Lock. (This rescue is believed to be the first of its kind and has given us world wide attention. We have been featured on Dateline, Hard Copy, and even the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Rescue 991. (For those of you who do not know this, they use 991 instead of 911)

As 1994 came in, excitement was running high due to our 50th Anniversary Celebration which was upcoming as well as the planning for the 67th Annual Hudson Mohawk Volunteer Firefighter Association Convention which was being held here in East Glenville. A 1994 GMC Suburban was purchased as our new medical response vehicle. It could carry five firefighters with all of the necessary medical equipment. Also added was a defibulator for use on cardiac patients as well as new turnout clothes which complied with the new OSHA standards. At this time, the committee looking into the future needs of our fire station recommended that a new station be built. Plans were drawn up and a new location was found at 423-427 Saratoga Road. A vote was held for the district on June 29th for a bond issue of $1,900,000 for the purchase of the property and the cost of building a new station. This meant a tax increase of $.15 per household. The vote was 433 to 270. The residents felt the cost was too high and that they needed more information. In April 1994, our Ladder Tower was sent to Ladder Tower Inc. to be refurbished. At this point it was 19 years old and it did not pass it's yearly underwriters inspection. On July 16, 1994 the Hudson Mohawk parade stepped off as planned. There were between 6000 to 7000 firefighters in the parade. In September we held our 50th anniversary picnic at the Colonial Inn at Galway lake.

New plans were drawn up and new property at 431-433 Saratoga Road was looked at. The taxpayers were asked to vote on a bond issue for $1,600,00 for the property and the new station. There would be no increase in their fire tax. On April 14, 1995 the vote was held; 633 yes votes and 280 no votes. Final plans would be drawn up for our new station.

In May 1995 the department took delivery of the refurbished aerial truck from Ladder Tower Inc. On November 3, 1995 a ground braking ceremony was held at the future site of our new station. On November 27, 1995 work began on the demolition of the two homes on the site.

The dedication for our new station was held Saturday, October 12, 1996. The expected completion date was November 14th. As planned, on November 14, 1996 all hands reported to the old station to start moving all of the equipment to our new station. Everyone pitched in and the work went fast. It was rather comical to see the members pushing equipment down the center of Rt.-50.

In 1997 Schenectady County went to the 911 system.

In 1999 the fire department elected Carole Mills as it's first woman Fire Chief. New Scott 4.5 Air-Packs were purchased along with a new Eagle Talon compressor.

The department responded to 164 fire alarms and 415 medical emergencies for a total of 579 calls for the year.

2000 is almost come to pass, and the department has made many changes in training and equipment to help keep our members up-to-date. As you can see, this department was built on a tradition of professionalism and dedication, and we have always been a leader in the fire service. We intend on meeting the needs of our community now, as well as fifty years from now just as those before us had......head on and with 100% effort. Year 2000 also started the planning for a new heavy rescue truck. Specs were completed in November and bids were sent out to be return the first part of January 2001. A contract was awarded to Hackney Emergency Vehicles for a Heavy Rescue truck with a delivery date some time in September of 2001. Delivery was made the first part of December 2001. Drivers started their training and equipment was transfered to the new truck. The truck has roll up doors on three sides, a light tower and power reel. There also is a hydraulic reel for the hydraulic tools. The cab has room for 6 men and a cabinet with roll up door for medical equipment. This truck responds to all accidents, fires and second medical emergencies calls. In April 2001 a Ford 350 Super duty 4x4 Pick-Up with crew cab. 7.3l, V-8 diesel 6,000 lb. front mounted winch, a skid mounted unit with 200 gal. water tank, booster line and 18 hp motor for high pressure pump was purchased.

In June 2001 a BULLARD THERMAL IMAGING CAMERA was put into service, thanks to the generous donations from Mrs. Ethel Griffin, The William Gundry Broughton Charitable Private Foundation, DiCesare Spataro & Associates, and The Schenectady County Disabled American Veterans, Inc. The Bullard Camera can be used to detect body heat or the heat of a fire through smoke. This camera allows us to quickly find victims and remove them from a burning building. It also can be used to find lost people in the woods, overheated motors, burned light ballasts, and other needs in day-to-day calls that we respond to. The year 2001 was another busy year with 553 alarms.

2002 saw the start of replacement of old firematic clothing (around 50 sets) purchased through state contract.

In 2003 East Glenville answered a new record of calls (701). Calls are running between 50 & 60 calls a month, some times even two or three in one hour. A new chief’s car was purchased on state contract which replace the oldest of the three cars. The turnout clothing program was completed, and ladder safety belts were added to the pants. This will allow the firefighters to hook into any ladder they are on. The company took its memorial fund money and purchased 5 Power Hart Defibrilators. One for each of the 3 Chief’s cars, 1 for the medical truck and 1 for the rescue truck.

In January 2004 a new 4 wheel drive diesel truck was delivered which was purchased through state contract to replace the old 230 medical truck which did all the medical runs - 400-500 calls a year. A second Chief’s car was ordered on state contract for delivery later in the year. The new Chiefs car was delivered the last part of August. In July of 2004 another first happened - The fire department answered a total of 71 calls for the month.