Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Information About the History of Fire Departments in the Town of Pelham Published in 1927

I have written repeatedly about the histories of the various fire units that have served portions of the Town of Pelham since the late 19th century.  For an extensive list of such prior writings, see the listing with links at the end of this article.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes an article published in The Pelham Sun in 1927 that described the two fire districts that served the Town at that time as well as the fire fighting units within those fire districts.  The article provides excellent insight into the nature of fire fighting in our Town shortly before the onset of the Great Depression.  The text of the article is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.

Two Special Districts Are Protected by Four Large Companies
New Fire Headquarters Soon to Be Erected On Fifth Avenue

For reasons of safety and convenience, the Pelhams are divided to form two fire districts.  One district includes the village of North Pelham.  The village of Pelham Manor forms fire district 3.

There are three companies in the first fire-district, namely:  the Relief Hook and Ladder company 1, Liberty Engine and Hose Company 1 and Hose Company 2.  Each company has a piece of up-to-date fire apparatus.  Two of these pieces are shown in the doorways of the fire headquarters on Fifth avenue, North Pelham, in a picture reproduced elsewhere in this section.  There is also shown in this edition, a picture taken years ago, of the old fire headquarters which now forms only a rear wing of the present building.  The board of fire commissioners, with A.G.C. Fletcher, Pelham architect, are now studying the final sketches for the new $100,000 firehouse on Fifth avenue, North Pelham, on the plot adjoining the present headquarters, which will be demolished as soon as the new building is erected.

Construction is expected to start early this year on the new headquarters.  With the increase in number of apartment houses in the first fire district, there has been talk among the fire commissioners regarding the coming necessity of an aerial truck for the fire department.  While this is a possible development for the future, the commissioners are taking precautions at the present time, by cooperating with the building department in the matter of providing ample fire escape facilities in large apartments.  

The board of fire commissioners meets at the North Pelham headquarters at the North Pelham headquarters every month, following company meetings.  Dr. Walter H. Brundage is chairman of the board, assisted by the following other officers:  Louis F. Edinger, secretary; Frederick Head, clerk; William F. Dollny, treasurer, and John F. Larkin, Louis F. Edinger, Walter B. Caffrey, and Harold W. Davis, fire commissioners.

The popularity of Fire Chief Dominic Amato is shown by the fact that he was elected unanimously to that post without the formality of having acted previously as a deputy chief.  Chief Amato, who has been a member of the Pelham fire department for nine years, was formerly second lieutenant of the Hook and Ladder company for four years, and first lieutenant for two years.  He has figured in two rescues at fires, the latest being that of his aged father-in-law, the late Julius Winter, in the recent fire at the Bloom building on Fifth avenue, North Pelham.  There are now 150 volunteer firemen and two paid drivers in the department, which has made great progress in the past year.

Joseph Carraher is first deputy chief of the first district department, and Robert Young, second deputy.  The officers of the Relief Hook and Ladder company are:  Charles Foster, president; James W. Caffrey, vice-president, William Dollny, treasurer; Henry Velon, recording secretary; William Hamilton, financial secretary; John Roggaveen, captain; William Carson, first lieutenant; Edward Sims, second lieutenant.  

The following are the officers of the Liberty Engine and Hose company:  William Hartwell, president; William Reilly, vice-president; Anthony Adamo, recording secretary; James Black, financial secretary; Robert Powers, treasurer; John Amato, captain; Robert Powers, first lieutenant; Edward Lange, second lieutenant; William Daull, sergeant-at-arms.

The Pelham Hose company 2 officers are:  J.C. Peck, captain and president; B.D. Jennings, lieutenant; Roy Passmore, secretary and treasufer.

The Pelham Manor fire headquarters and apparatus are also shown in a picture in this special Pelham section.  The apparatus is the newest, and the headquarters is part of the Pelham Manor village hall, a modern and handsome structure.  This department was organized 53 years ago, and since that time has passed from the fire-bucket stage, to its present up-to-date state.  Henry E. Dey, now tax collector for the town of Pelham, had much to do with the early firemanic history of the Manor fire department.  General departmental affairs are now handled by Village Trustee Elliot C. House, fire commissioner.  Cornelius Hickey is department treasurer.

Although there are two pieces of apparatus, consisting of the ladder truck and the pumper, there is but one company, the Pelham Manor Engine company 1, whose members man both pieces.

Anthony Galati is now serving in his second year as chief of the fire department, having been a member of the department for the past 17 years.  Charles B. Clark is first deputy chief, and John Flanagan, second deputy.  The company officers are:  S.J. Fisher, captain; William Templeton, first lieutenant; Arthur Fawcett, second lieutenant; Clyde Howes, president; A.R. Fawcett, secretary; Burgess B. Fields, treasurer.

A firemen's benevolent organization, the Pelham Firemen's association, was organized in the Pelhams on January 21, 1911.  The present membership consists of 85 men, who receive compensation according to the rules laid down by the organization.  The officers are:  John B. Clegg, present; M. J. Murphy, vice-president; William Dollny, financial secretary; Louis Epple, treasurer; Irving J. Wallach, secretary.  The directors of the association are J.B. Clegg, M.J. Murphy, H. King, William Dollny, William Edinger, I.J. Wallach, Dominic Amato, Stephen Ryan, and Louis Epple.

Baseball and basketball are among the activities engaged in by the Pelham first district firemen.  Last summer's baseball team was one of the leading teams in the county, and the basketball team this season bids fair to take county honors, having won 16 games and lost 5 to date.  In addition to the regular Friday night game on the North Pelham fire hall court, the Pelham firemen's quintet has played as many as four outside games in one week.  The firemen are leading contenders for the county championship, and the Pelham juniors have maintained a splendid record, in their preliminary contests on the local court.  Abe Zernoski and William Feilly are managers of the firemen's quintet."

Source:  PELHAMS FINE FIRE SERVICE, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan. 19, 1927, Special Pelham Section, p. 8, cols. 1-2.  

Fire Headquarters in Village of North Pelham, 1913.
Source: The Pelham Sun, 1913.

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Below is a list of prior Historic Pelham Blog postings that touch on firefighting and the history of fire fighting units within the Town of Pelham.

Fri., Jan. 24, 2014:  Early Days of Organized Fire Fighting in Today's Village of Pelham.

Fri., Jan. 15, 2010:  Photograph of Augustine C. McGuire, President of the Board of Fire Commissioners of the First District Fire Department in 1913.

Thu., Jan. 14, 2010:  1913 Report of the Firemen's Benevolent Association in Pelham.

Thu., Dec. 10, 2009:  More 19th Century Baseball and Firefighting References.

Tue., Dec. 08, 2009:  The Darling Triplets: Three Brothers Among Pelham's Earliest Firefighters.

Thu., Oct. 08, 2009:  Firefighting Units on City Island in Pelham During the Early 1890's.

Mon., Aug. 31, 2009:  Contest in 1891 To Determine Which Steam Fire Engine Company Could Throw a Stream the Greater Distance.

Fri., Aug. 28, 2009:  Reorganization of the Minneford Engine Company on City Island in February, 1891.

Thu., Aug. 06, 2009:  Brief History of the Fire Department in the Village of North Pelham Published in 1913.

Wed., Aug. 05, 2009:  Pelham Manor Fire Chief Pleads for Taxpayers to Authorize Purchase of Village's First Fire Engine.

Wed., July 15, 2009:  Liberty Hose Company Election in 1898.

Thu., Jan. 19, 2006:  Pelham Manor's Earliest Fire Fighting Equipment.

Mon., Aug. 01, 2005:  An 1896 Inspection and Drill of the Fire Department in Pelham.

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