Chenango Fire Company Inc.

1939 – 1989

History of the Chenango Fire Company Inc.

Prior to either one of the fire companies being organized, fire protection was provided by the Port Dickinson Fire Company. To obtain their services a resident had to call a member of the Town Board of Chenango, who in turn notified the Port Dickinson Fire Company. Needless to say, because of this delay, fires usually got beyond control of the firemen. Under the original plan of establishing a volunteer fire company in the area, it was proposed that the town purchase an inexpensive piece of apparatus equipped with a chemical tank. It was to be located near Hinman's Corners, where it would be central to practically all sections.

The first organizational meeting of the Community Volunteer Fire Company of Nimmonsburg was held on March 1,1939. The first President was James Phipps who appointed a committee of five to take the necessary steps to incorporate the organization. The company was incorporated on March 17,1939 at a cost of $40.00.

The first organizational meeting of the Community Volunteer Fire Company #2 [Hinman's Corners] was held on March 10,1939. The first President was RW. Benjamin. At a meeting held on March 6,1940, Al Abair was elected President and appointed a committee in regards to incorporation papers. The company was incorporated on March 15,1940 at a cost of $40.00.

In 1940 regular meetings of the Hinman's Corners company and the Board of Directors were held on a weekly basis. The first contract for a fund raiser was signed on June 6,1940 with the James E. Strates shows for a carnival to be held June 17 through June 22,1940. On June 28,1940 the Community Volunteer Fire Company #2 leased the Quinn barn for $15.00 a month for five years for their first fire station. On this same date they ordered their first fire truck, a 1940 Brockway 500 gallon per minute pumper, at a cost of $8,500. One month later on July 26,1940, they bought a 1934 Ford for $185 which they made into a 1,000 gallon tanker. Insurance on the trucks for $10,000-$20,000 coverage in the year 1940 cost $84.95.

Karl Hendrickson was elected the first Chief of Hinman's Corners on August 21,1940. He would officially start directing fire fighting operations January 1,1941 when the first contract, with the Town of Chenango, went into effect. The contract was for $500 per year. Fred Kunkel was elected First Assistant Chief and Willis DeSilva was elected Second Assistant Chief at this same meeting.

During these early years the companies had many hard working and dedicated members which assured the success of the two different departments for the future. One member, Fred Kunkel of the Hinman's Corners Fire Company, was responsible for a considerable amount of fire fighting equipment being donated to the company from the Rockville Centre Fire Department to help in getting them started. The first uniforms for Nimmonsburg were donated by the Deposit Fire Company.

In 1941, the Nimmonsburg Company completed their new fire station, which is now the Town of Chenango offices. This new structure was 40 feet by 90 feet and was built at a cost of $9,000. It had two bays and an auditorium with a stage. During the next twenty years, the company held dances and bingo games nearly every week for fund raising. There also were many different shows held in the auditorium during these years.

The Nimmonsburg Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary was formed in 1941. The first president was Minnie Kocik. They turned out to be one of the most active auxiliaries of their time. Besides helping the firemen with fund raising projects, they had many of their own. During these early years they did a lot of sewing for the Red Cross. They would meet two weeks before their regular meeting night to sew different projects for the Red Cross.

In 1942 the Nimmonsburg Company received their first truck, which was a Ford Sanford high pressure pumper. They also obtained a 1924 American LaFrance chain drive, right hand drive 750 GPM pumper from the City of Binghamton in 1953. This was in service until 1957 when someone forgot to open the engine cooling valve while at a fire and blew up the engine.

Another important occasion for the Hinman's Corners Company occurred on January 31,1944 with the formation of the Ladies Auxiliary. At that time there were 11 charter members. Their first president was Mildred Barriger. The Auxiliary has contributed much to the fire department and to the community since that date. Throughout the years the ladies have donated their time, holding many different fund raisers such as dinners, card parties, rummage sales, flea markets, auctions, bake sales and anything else that would raise money. They also helped the firemen with their bingo games, pancake breakfasts, field days, raffles and many other projects. With their fund raising projects they have donated money to the fire company to be used for various pieces of equipment for fire fighting and also the supplying of dishes, etc., for the kitchen. They also help assist the firemen by providing sandwiches and hot and cold drinks during fires. They are presently set up and equipped to help the community in case of a disaster or fire with food, clothing, blankets and many other necessities.

On July 19,1944, the Community Volunteer Fire Company #2 voted to change its name to the Hinman's Corners Fire Dept., Inc. The name change became official on August 12,1944. Also on October 18,1944 the department established a fire police unit within the company. The fire police unit has become increasingly important over the years due to the addition of limited access highways and interstates in our area. This has led to a large increase in traffic, which they help to control at the scene of accidents and fires. They also help control the public and seal off the areas of fires and disasters when directed to by the Chiefs.

In 1945 the two companies made some joint moves to provide better service to the community. On August 18,1945, the Board of Directors of both companies, at a joint meeting, voted to sign a five year contract for Hinman's Corners to lease the Nimmonsburg station and truck for $1.00 and letter the 1942 Ford with both companies' names. On August 22,1945, 20 members from the Nimmonsburg Company were accepted into the Hinman's Corners Fire Dept. to start on January 1, 1946 and to operate the Nimmonsburg truck under the chief of Hinman's Corners.

In 1946, a new fire station for Hinman's Corners was started at 1326 Front St. The building, which was completed in 1947, had two bays with a kitchen and a hall underneath them. The cost of the building was $12,000 and the interest rate at that time was 4%.

During the 1950 years, there was a number of things happening for both companies. In 1951, Hinman's Corners signed a five year contract with the Town of Dickinson to provide fire protection to the Sunrise Terrace community. Hinman's Corners Station #2, in Sunrise Terrace, was opened on October 10,1954. On January 1,1954 the Nimmonsburg Company was awarded its first contract with the Town of Chenango for $2,600. The Nimmonsburg Company in 1957 purchased land at 1135 Front Street and, by themselves, built the station, which is now Chenango Fire Company #2. The company in 1959 then leased the old building to Marine Midland Bank for $150 per month for two years and $200 per month for the next two years with an option to buy for $55,000. Also in 1959 the company signed a new five year contract with the Town of Chenango for $5,000. During the 1950s, the two companies bought a total of five trucks between them. The Nimmonsburg Company, in 1958, bought two GMC American LaFrance 750 GPM pumpers at a cost of $7,500 each. One of the three trucks Hinman's Corners bought was a 1953 Ward LaFrance 500 GPM pumper that carried 1,000 gallons of water. The cost of this truck was $16,000.

During the sixties, both companies worked hard to build up their memberships especially during the daytime hours when there was a serious shortage of manpower. The Hinman's Corners Company added two more trucks and at the same time started making plans to build a new station #1 to replace the old one. They were outgrowing the two bay station and there were rumors that Front Street was going to be widened. This would create a problem with the ramp on the present station.

In 1964 Hinman's Corners held their first field days which lost $500. In 1965 they did a little better. They only lost about $100. After that they started showing a profit for their efforts.

The Nimmonsburg Company decided in 1964 that they had to sell the old station so that they could pay their debts on the new building and on their trucks. They sold the station to the Town of Chenango for $37,000. In 1965 they then were able to add a kitchen to their station at a cost of $10,000.

The seventies started out with Hinman's Corners moving into their new four bay station #1 that had cost $60,000. The station was built on property that was obtained from the Chenango Plaza in a swap for the Front Street property and $32,000 cash.

The first contract with Broome County for fire protection for the Front Street Jail and Broome Community College was signed on September 21,1970. The contract would cover a period of five years at $4,000 per year. This made the fire company the only one in New York State to have a contract with a county.

August 15,1978 is a day that will never be forgotten by anyone who belonged to Hinman's Corners at that time. The Hinman's Corners fire station #1 burned. The first firemen on the scene did not dare open the doors to try and get the trucks out. They had to wait helplessly until the Chenango Bridge Fire Company arrived on the scene and got a charged line ready. They then proceeded to open one door at a time and got the trucks out. The day before, all of the paper products, booths, counters, etc., were stored away from the field days that had just ended. It was suspected that a cigarette in the paper products started the fire during the night. It cost $35,000 to repair the station.

On January 1,1979 the Nimmonsburg Company put their Hurst Tool [Jaws of Life], that they had purchased in 1978 from a local rescue service, into action. They removed a person from his car which had been in a head on collision. Total cost of the equipment was $7,500. This was the first fire company-owned Hurst Tool in Broome County. Also in 1979 the company undertook the project of restoring the 1942 antique Sanford fire truck. It took the members three years of scraping, welding and painting, but when they were finished they had done an excellent job and had something they could be extremely proud of. They had finished it in time to show it at the Oakdale Mall Fire Prevention Show. Cost for the project was less than $500.

As the 1980s came upon us, none of the members of either department could have had any idea what was in store for us. The Hinman's Corners Company bought a 1980 Autocar squad truck for $98,000 and in 1981 added an Autocar 1750 GPM pumper, that could carry 1,500 gallons of water, at a cost of $105,000. The field days had come a long ways from the first one. In 1980 the field days grossed $29,632.59 and in 1981, the last one that would be held grossed $25,139.90, even with rain on Saturday, the busiest day.

The Nimmonsburg Company decided in 1983 to develop a Med Team to help out the Chenango Volunteer Emergency Squad answer calls. In September 1983 the Med Team went into service. On January 14,1984 the first woman joined the Nimmonsburg Company and on October 29,1984 the Hinman's Corners Company voted in the first woman in their organization.

In 1984 both companies made a very important decision in which to better serve their community. They voted to consolidate their two companies into one. On April 13,1984 the Hinman's Corners Company Board of Directors voted yes and on April 16,1984 the Nimmonsburg Company did the same. It then had to be passed by the members of both organizations. On August 16,1984 the Hinman's Corners members voted yes and on August 20,1984 the Nimmonsburg members also voted yes.

Now the hard work would start; which was to mold the two organizations into one. At the same time the legal work would be getting underway. A new name, Chenango Fire Company, Inc., was picked out for the consolidated company. By doing this, both companies gave up their former names, which they naturally were very proud of. New by-laws had to be drawn up to run the company along with many other details to be worked out to everybody's satisfaction. No one had any idea of the amount of legal work that was ahead of us or that it would take one year to complete. Finally, on August 8,1985, the Chenango Fire Company, Inc. was official. The cost for the legal work was $3,208.35. On August 26,1985 the first meeting was held and the first officers were elected.

On May 23,1986 the fire company Board of Directors voted to merge the Chenango Volunteer Ambulance Squad into the fire company. The members voted and approved the merger on January 8,1987. The ambulance Board of Directors voted to merge with the fire company at a meeting held on October 23,1986. The members voted yes at a meeting held on November 6,1986. While all of the legal work was taking place, the fire company, on March 1,1987, started operating the squad. The two organizations signed a contract to legally allow the fire company to do this. Effective January 1,1988, the merger became official at a cost for legal fees of $4324.08.

The future for Chenango Fire Company, Inc. is going to be very challenging and exciting. We are in the middle of a fund raising drive to upgrade our ambulance service to advanced life support for the community and its residents' benefit. Besides being a very costly project, it also takes some very dedicated members to volunteer their time to take the many hours of schooling to bring their skills up to this higher level. The company has also been doing some research and planning for the building of a new station #1 on the corner of Castle Creek Road and Trafford Road. This station would house eight pieces of equipment, sleeping quarters and showers for on duty ambulance personnel, training quarters, a hall with a kitchen, a number of different offices for firematic, EMS and business, a recreation room for the members and plenty of storage space. In 1988 the company had a lot, near the top of Dorman Road, donated to us for a fire station. The company, in the future, hopes to build a small station on this property so that we will have a truck on top of the hill for a quick response to emergencies up there. The company has also discussed building a smaller station to replace station #2 after the larger station #1 is complete.

Naturally all of these plans are continually under review and are subject to change at any time due to financial status, a better idea or a different direction in which to go for the company. But the one thing that can be guaranteed to our community is that the members of Chenango Fire Company, Inc. will continue to work hard and strong for them, in starting on our second fifty years.

Fire Trucks
1940 500 GPM Brockway pumper $8,500
1940 1934 Ford, 1,000 gallon tanker, tank put on by members $185
1950 GMC front end pumper, chassis only, members built the rest $1,940
1953 Ward LaFrance 500 GPM pumper with 1,000 gallons water $16,000
1959 F800 Ford 500 GPM Ward LaFrance pumper $15,639
1965 F350 4 WD Ford brush truck.  
1967 Ward LaFrance 750 GPM pumper $27,000
1976 Dodge Emergency One Minipumper $18,000
1980 Autocar squad truck, custom built by Saulsbury $98,000
1981 Autocar 1750 GPM pumper tanker with 1,500 gallons of water $105,000
1942 Ford Sanford 500 GPM pumper.  
1953 1924 American LaFrance, chain drive, right hand drive.  
1955 1948 Packard Ambulance, made into hose team truck, Garden Hose #1 and also used for brush fires.  
1958 Chrysler wagon ambulance.  
1958 Two GMC American LaFrance 750 GPM pumpers $7,500 each
1961 Dodge wagon ambulance.  
1970 Saulsbury GMC 3/4 ton, 4 WD brush truck $12,500
1977 American LaFrance Century 1500 GPM pumber $84,000
1982 American LaFrance Century 1750 GPM pumper $110,000
1985 International Rescue truck, custom built by Saulsbury $65,000


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