History of the Heuvelton Volunteer Fire Department
The Heuvelton Volunteer Fire Department was established on April 17th 1921, It was not until June of 1921 that the fire company was actually organized under the direction of Claude H Preston, our first Chief. The fire company consisted of twenty-six charter members.
The fire bell was rung from St. Raphael's Catholic Church bell tower. In 1932 the first siren was installed on the Oswegotchie town hall located on State Street in the village, and in 1956 a fire box and emergency phone system was installed in Fox Funeral home also on State Street. This was to remain our alarm system until January of 1995 when the current 911 system went into effect. Every day at noon, except on sundays since 1932 the siren has sounded as a means of a daily test. Eighty years later, the siren still sounds at noon every day except sunday in the Village of Heuvelton.
In September of 1947, the first fire protection contracts were approved with the Town of Oswegotchie for $800.00 and the Town of Depeyster for $400.00 annually. It was not until 1996 that we contracted with the town of Macomb for the portion that we serve.
The first piece of fire apparatus owned by the department was a hand drawn Chemical Cart that was purchased in 1924. This did not eliminate the use of buckets, as they were needed to carry water to refill the cylinders as soon as they were emptied. In October of 1928, a contract with William G Bell was made, who happened to be the current Chief at the time, in the amount of $150.00 annually to store the chemical cart.
In March of 1930 the department purchased their first "modern" fire engine. It was purchased for the sum of $7,250.00 from the Sanford Motor Truck Corporation. When it arrived on March 19th, 1930 on loan from the Sanford Motor Truck Company, it was given a trial and its performance left everyone well pleased and very proud, the truck was formally purchased in May of that year. It was not until then that the buckets were retired and milk trucks and milk cans were used to supply the Sanford with water. Thereafter tankers and tractors were used from Aiello's, Lloyd Finley, Art Moore's Trucking, and Western Condensing. The Sanford fire engine is still around today, and is currently undergoing its second restoration under the direction of Brandon Wood, David Basford, and Jay Hebert, the first restoration was done in 1970 and was overseen by Stuart "Stub" Woodside, hopefully it will back on the parade route soon. On another note regarding the Sanford, on Wednesday morning November 29th 1931at 6:30am the Heuvelton Fire Department was called to Ogdensburg and in seventeen minutes had three streams of water on the fire of the Hippodrone Theatre on Ford Street. As quoted from our original minutes books from 1931 "Our engine did excellent work and pumped for four hours steady, we received many comments from Ogdensburg City Firemen." Another incident with the engine happened earlier in its life, on May 1st 1930, the department was called to aid in fighting a fire in Lisbon which was threatening the business section. The members were very glad to help a neighbouring village and figured it would really prove the efficiency of the new machine. Everything worked fine and the fire was brought under control. The return trip was made during a heavy rain storm and when the four corners at Flackville were reached, the driver did not slow down or stop and our new engine collided with a car traveling on route 68, careened off the road to strike and upend two gasoline pumps with their concrete foundations and threw the firemen standing on the back of the engine all over the yard. The new engine had to be returned to the Sanford Motor Truck company for a complete overhaul. This accident brought about a few changes in the rules of the truck and it was made clear that it was not to be used for "Joy-Rides" and only certain members of the department could operate it, hence our operators list which still lives on today.
In June of 1930 a squad car was purchased. In June 1949 the department bought a Ford pumper with a high and low pressure pump and a 300 gallon booster tank. As far as can be researched the first tanker was purchased sometime between 1947 and 1953. In June of 1950, the department bought a used ambulance from Superior Body Sales in Newark NJ. In July of 1956, the pump was removed from the Ford Pumper and was re-installed on a new GMC chassis at a cost of $3,200.00, and in October of 1956 a small tanker was purchased. In 1961 a new Sanford cab-over pumper was purchased, this truck was one of the first yellow fire trucks introduced into the North Country. In 1965 a used emergency truck was purchased from Carl Hobkirk and was placed into service in August that same year.
In April of 1975, the department updated its 5000 gallon tanker with a 1971 International diesel purchased from McCadam Cheese Co. In 1976 specs were drawn up for a new pumper, and on March 22nd 1977 the new 1977 Sanford pumper arrived. This engine was replaced in 1997 with our current engine E-106 which is a 1997 Luverne. After two "road trips" to Connecticut, in 1977, a 1971 used emergency van was purchased. In August of 1978 the hose dryer was purchased and installed. In July 1979 the department purchased a small tanker that later in its life went on to live as the garbage truck for the village of Heuvelton. As you can see the 70's were very good to us, adding several pieces of equipment to our department.
This brings us up to 1981, when the first R-99 was brought into service, followed in 1984 by the purchase of a used 5000 gallon tank trailer. In 1986 the current R-50 was purchased from Credle Co. for the cost of $26,744, which was made possible by the generous support of the people of our district through a letter drive. In November 1986 a bid was accepted on a new pumper and in 1987 we received our first five man cab. In 2007 E-103 was upgraded again to 6 person cab, with a top mount pump with CAFS system, this new engine was produced by Darley Fire apparatus and was delivered in Spring of 2007 In 1988, an antique chemical cart was donated to the department and is now on display in our memorial park adjacent to the station. In January of 1989 the department had its first cascade system installed which allowed the filling of two SCBA cylinders at a time in an unenclosed vessel, today the department has its second and more modern cascade system to replace the original, the new system is fully enclosed for safety and can fill up to three cylinders at a time, the new unit is fully self sufficient with built in compressor. In August of 1992 another letter drive was launched to replace the aging R-99 with a newer larger model, which happened in 1993 when it was replaced with a new crew cab Chevrolet Diesel. Then again in 2008 R-99 was replaced again with another larger vehicle a 2008 Ford F-450 crew cab Diesel. In August of 1992 plans were drawn up to replace the now ageing small tanker with a newer model and in February of 1993 a 2000 Gallon tanker on an International Chassis was put into service as TA-80. In May of 1995 the department purchased a 1990 Mack Tractor to draw the 5000 gallon tank at a cost of $23,500.00.
Now a place to house all this equipment. In February of 1924, a special meeting was held to bring a resolution to borrow $15,000.00 for a fire hall, fire engine, water storage and fire alarm system. This resolution was not passed until January of 1925 and in February of 1926 at a regular meeting the Grange Hall on State Street was secured at the cost of $25.00 annually for the firemens meetings. From the time of its purchase until 1956 the 1929 Sanford Fire Engine was housed at the Oswegotchie Town Hall on state Street. It was not until October of 1956 that the department purchased the George Hall Corporation gas station at the corner of State and Union street for the sum of $1,000.00. The building was moved to its present location by Gaines and Sherman for $2,500.00. The land that the station presently sits on was acquired from the Richardson family for $1.00, and footings and flooring costs were $1,500.00. On April 1 1957, the department was able to move into the new fire hall from the old station at the Oswegotchie Town Hall.
Shortly after we relocated to our new station, the Heuvelton Volunteer Fire Company became the Heuvelton Volunteer Fire Department Inc., in February of 1959. Along with becoming incorporated, it was decided to purchase dress uniforms for all the members at a cost of $66.94 each. After over 50 years, we are still wearing the same style uniform at a cost of $250.00 - $300.00 each.Our first opportunity to use our new uniforms occurred on September 3rd 1960 when the department accompanied the Heuvelton Central School marching band to the New York State Fair in Syracuse NY. We might also add that in over 50 years of wearing these uniforms they are as hot today, as they were back then.
In December of 1970 our fiscal year was changed from June 1st through May 1st, to January 1st through December 31st. In 1962 the kitchen upstairs was remodelled. In June 1987 a sizeable donation was received from Stanley and Helen McCadam which the department earmarked for a future building project. In February of 1991 we were able to build a new Radio room which was dedicated to Stanley and Helen McCadam. It was also this same date that we built two new restroom facilities downstairs, one of which has since been converted into a storage area for our departments Dive Rescue Team equipment.
In July of 1988 the department purchased the property next door known as "The Shamrock", on a five year land contract. In October of 1993 we received the deed to the property which we turned over to the Village of Heuvelton. In October of 1989, a 10'x50' addition was begun which extended the back and end of the station, and in 1997 we added on three additional bays, a new kitchen and two more bathrooms, an area which now serves as a multi-purpose banquet hall, and apparatus bays. In 2006 another addition was installed on the other end of the station to allow more room for storage and another larger bay to be more accommodating for our Tractor Trailer.
In February of 1994 the department voted to have the original charter restored. In 1987 a decision was made to computerize our records and on September 12th 1994 our computer system was upgraded further, and since then many computer system upgrades have taken place.
The department had its first radio systems installed into the trucks in 1954, theses were low-band radios, and the department switched to High-Band in 1990, in May of 1995 the low band equipment was sold to Philadelphia Volunteer Fire Department in Jefferson County for $550.00. In March of 1980 the first Home Alert paging system were put into use, Equipment was distributed to members on April 17th 1980.
In 1989 in cooperation with the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad, the department started a pilot program called "First Responders", the goal was to provide emergency medical care and assistance within our Fire District, prior to the Rescue Squads arrival. This program started with a few firemen trained in Emergency Medical Care, who responded if they were available at the time of the call, to assist the Ogdensburg Rescue. In January of 1991 our First Responder program was officially organized from the first time.
The First Responders program with the thanks of the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad started with some basic equipment to work with, consisting of bandages and oxygen. Today our first responders respond to every emergency call within our district and provide mutual aid to other districts as well. Our equipment has evolved through the years to include an AED, Pulse Ox, BP Cuff and Stethoscope, backboards, splints and many other specialized equipment. On September 12th 1994 a separate siren tone was created to denote the difference between an EMS call and a Fire call.
As our department continues to grow and evolve with the times and changes in technology, we will always remember how fortunate we are to have had such a dedicated group of founding fathers to lay the groundwork and establish the department for what it is today.