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Williamstown Fire Department History

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The Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department was started February 25, 1946. This was the date that the Department became incorporated. Among the charter members were William Healy, Raymond Gifford, Henry White, Jake Bazinet and Frank Rogers.

The Fire Department was formed after a major fire destroyed four of the town's businesses. The buildings destroyed were Hastings' Meat Market, The J. B. Castle Undertaking Parlors, The Billhart House and the Masonic Temple. The only way to notify the men that there was a fire was to ring the bells at the local churches. One of the men that lived in town would call the operator and tell her to notify the nearest fire companies for help. Those departments were Camden and Altmar.

The Department started out with a 1944 Chevrolet mid-ship pumper as its first piece of apparatus. This pumper is still with the department today, in retirement. Through the years additional equipment was added, the first being a 1954 Ford pumper that carried a 750 gpm pump and 800 gallons of water. This pumper was retired and sold in 1986. In 1966, the Department purchased its first new piece of apparatus. This pumper was unique because of its color. The traditional color of a fire engine is red, but this engine was white. The firemen were proud of this engine and it was an excellent piece of equipment to add to the ever growing town. This engine featured a 750 gpm front mount pump with 1000 gallon water tank. This became Williamstown's main attack engine.

In the early 1970's a new word was added to the vocabulary of the Fire Department, Rescue. With the closest ambulance in Camden, it was a growing demand to get help much quicker to the town residents. It started out as basically giving oxygen to people that were having trouble breathing and bandaging cuts and bruises. The Department added a rescue truck in the early 70's to help carry this type of equipment. The department also added another pumper in the early 70's by purchasing a used 1957 500 gpm pumper from the Hastings Volunteer Fire Department. The Rescue was retired in 1979 and the pumper was retired in 1987.

In 1979, the Department purchased its second brand new pumper. A Ford 750 gpm front mount pumper was put in service. In 1983, a new rescue truck was purchased. Rescue, which was introduced back in the 70's was now a demanding service on the Department. The State of New York was starting to put requirements on all departments and it was now required to complete a school before you could ride on the rescue as an (EMT) Emergency Medical Technician. By the middle 1980's, the Department had 11 EMT's and was considered one of the finest in the County. A 1983 Chevy Rescue Truck was purchased for the increasing rescue calls plus worked as a way to transport personnel to mutual aid fires. In 1987, a 2500 gallon tanker was added to the fleet. The truck was purchased from the Cleveland Fire Department. 1995 brought the next upgrade to our tanker which carried 2500 of water and was on a Mack Chassis with a diesel engine. Other apparatus to join the departments fleet through out the years include a 1966 Haun Midship Pumper. This engine was the first ever with Jump seats and Mid-Ship in Williamstown. A Mid-Ship Pumper is where the pump is in the middle of the truck and Jump seats allow the firefighters to get ready while on the way to the fire. This truck was bought from Moyer's Corners along with a 1969 Haun and a 1973 Haun in the years to come. The '73 Haun was the first apparatus to incorporate an on board Foam system. Other new apparatus purchased by the department include a 1996 Central States engine and a 1998 Chevy EMS vehicle for use on Rescue Calls. In 2003 the department replaced the tanker with a 1996 Freightliner Chassis and 2001 Tank that was partial funded by a FEMA Grant. In February 2005 the department took delivery of their Fifth new apparatus, a 2005 4 Guys Heavy Rescue that replaced the 1983 Rescue truck. Also in 2005 the department installed a station backup generator to fully power the building during extended power outages.

The first fire station was located at the eastern end of town on Route 13. It had tow bays that housed apparatus and a meeting room upstairs. Today that building is used as apartments. The department outgrew that station in the middle 60's and moved to the corners of Route 13 and Route 17 after they added an addition to the old school house that was purchased from the school district. In 1986, the department moved to its present location at the field day grounds on the western end of town on Rt. 13. The reason for building a new station was economics. The old station was costing too much to heat and maintain and it was in need of renovation. The new station has 5 bays and can be expanded to 6 thru design, offices and a meeting room. Also attached is a 250 seat banquet facility used for department fundraising. The site of the current station also houses the field day ground buildings that throughout the late 90's were replaced for several reasons including better layout and design.

The Fire Department's membership has grown through the years, from just a few members and officers to 60 members presently with 15 of those being officers. Fifteen of those members make up our Rescue squad and Apprentice Firefighter positions.

The members are responsible for attending training, meetings, fundraisers, drills, seminars and most importantly alarms. Many hours are dedicated from these outstanding men and women which helps make our Department the best it can be.

In 2005 the department responded to 184 alarms.

Last updated on 03/31/2005 09:18 AM