Six of Pelham's Earliest Firefighters Marched in the 36th Annual Fire Inspection Parade in 1930
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The First Fire District that once covered the Villages of North Pelham and Pelham (today's Pelham Heights) pre-dated incorporation of the two Villages. That is why it was formed as a Fire District rather than a Village Fire Department.
Officially formed in 1893, the First Fire District held its first annual inspection and parade in 1894. See Tue., Jun. 14, 2016: The First Annual Inspection of Pelhamville Fire Fighting Units in 1894. Each year thereafter, the volunteer fire fighters dressed in their parade best, shined and cleaned up all the equipment, and marched through the area on parade to demonstrate to their Fire Commissioners, Village and Town officials, guests, and Town residents that they were vigilant and prepared to risk life and limb to protect Pelham from fires and other emergencies.
The purpose of the annual fire inspection parade in the early years of Pelham fire fighting was to display to the community the professionalism, efficiency, and readiness of the volunteer firefighting units to instill confidence and allay fears of the local population. The parades were the product of tradition and attracted spectators and celebrants who lined the streets to view the spectacle.
The 36th annual inspection parade held Friday evening, September 26, 1930 was particularly notable. Six of the volunteer firemen who marched "had taken active part in thirty or more such inspections." They were Charles W. Foster, President of the Relief Hook & Ladder Company; Philip Godfrey, James Reilly, James Caffrey, William Edinger, Louis Epple and Kneeland Durham.
The parade began from fire headquarters on Fifth Avenue at 8:00 p.m. The parade began by heading north to Seventh Street, then reversed direction and returned south down Fifth Avenue. The marchers were led by members of Pelham's Boy Scout Troop 6 who carried flares "brilliantly illuminating the scene." The members of the Board of Fire Commissioners led the parading firefighters, followed by Fire Chief William Carson and Deputy Fire Chiefs John Amato and Robert Young. Next came the members of the Liberty Engine & Hose Company, then the Relief Hook & Ladder Company, then the Hose Company No. 2. The apparatus of each company followed behind the marchers in the same order as the members of the companies with a telegraph truck at the end of the procession.
The procession marched down Fifth Avenue and turned onto the railroad plaza in front of the Pelham Train Station where the marchers lined up for inspection. The inspection committee consisted of the Fire Commissioners, Village Mayors, the Town Clerk, various fire officials, and a former president of the Westchester County Firemen's Association.
After the brief inspection, the procession marched back to fire headquarters for refreshments and a brief social gathering.
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Below is the text of an article describing the 36th annual inspection parade held in 1930. It is followed by a citation and link to its source.
"OLD TIMERS MARCH WITH VOLUNTEER FIREMEN IN 36TH INSPECTION PARADE
Brilliant Demonstration of Efficiency of First District Firefighters. Six Thirty-Year Men in Parade. Chairman Davis Thanks Volunteer Firemen.
In a vivid demonstration of the strength of the fire fighting forces of Pelham and North Pelham the 36th annual inspection of the First Fire District was held on Friday night. Volunteer members of the fire companies paraded through North Pelham and stood at inspection on the railroad plaza. In uniforms spick [sic] and span and with all apparatus spotlessly shining the firemen proved to the citizens of the villages, their efficiency as firefighters. Harold W. Davis, chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners headed the inspecting party which included members of the Board of Fire Commissioners, village and town officials and distinguished guests.
Six of the volunteer firemen in the parade had taken active part in thirty or more such inspections. They had seen the old fire horse replaced by the modern fire truck and had seen such aids to fire fighting as smoke masks and chemical take their places among the articles of the department's equipment. Veterans of fires that have occurred in Pelham for over a quarter of a century, they are still fit for active duty and are steeped in the lore of fire fighting. These members are: Charles W. Foster, president of the Relief Hook & Ladder Company; Philip Godfrey, James Reilly, James Caffrey, William Edinger, Louis Epple and Kneeland Durham.
The parade left fire headquarters at about 8:00 o'clock and turned north of Fifth avenue as far as Seventh street. At that point they reversed their direction and came swinging down Fifth avenue. Boy Scouts of Troop No. 6 carried flares brilliantly illuminating the scene.
The members of the fire board headed the procession followed by Chief William Carson and his deputies John Amato and Robert Young. The Liberty Engine & Hose Company was next headed by Captain Irving Wallach. Following the engine company in the order named were: the Relief Hook & Ladder Co. headed by Captain Robert Reilly; the Hose Company No. 2 led by Captain J. A. Lefson. The apparatus followed in the same order as the companies with the telegraph truck taking up the rear.
At the railroad plaza, the companies lined up for inspection. The inspection committee included the following: Fire Commissioners Harold Davis, chairman, Louis Edinger, Walter Caffrey and Louis Sigloch, Treasurer of the department, William Dollny, Mayor Edward B. Harder and Trustees Dominic Amato and Walter Hedley of North Pelham; Town Clerk Frederick Hurttig; Chief William Carson, 1st deputy chief, John Amato, 2nd deputy chief, Robert Young, of the First Fire District Department; Chief John J. Brennan of Pelham Manor; Charles Buckley, former president of the Westchester County Firemen's Association and at present a director of the organization; and George Lambert, former chairman of the fire board.
The inspection was brief. Harold Davis, chairman of the fire board, thanked the members of the fire board, thanked the members of the department, in behalf of the citizens of North Pelham and Pelham Heights, for the excellent work that they had accomplished in the past year. The companies then marched back to headquarters where the parade disbanded. Refreshments were served to members and invited guests.
The First Fire District Department was organized in 1893. Inspections have been held annually since 1894.
Invited guests at the inspection were: Fred Merkle, fire commissioner of Mount Vernon; Acting Chief John MacDonald, of Mount Vernon; Leland Haynes, a director of the Westchester County Volunteer Firemen's Association; Stephen Ryan, also a director of the Association and former president; . . . Captain Louis Mangold, of the Chief Arthur Steuhl, of Eastches[ter]-Tuckahoe Hose Company; and Captain A. Francis Fitzpatrick of the Independent Hose Company No. 6, of Ossining. There were also delegations from Engine 3 and Engine 1, Truck 2 and Chemical 4 of Mt. Vernon; and companies from New Rochelle and Ossining."
Source: OLD TIMERS MARCH WITH VOLUNTEER FIREMEN IN 36TH INSPECTION PARADE -- Brilliant Demonstration of Efficiency of First District Firefighters. Six Thirty-Year Men in Parade. Chairman Davis Thanks Volunteer Firemen, The Pelham Sun, Oct. 3, 1930, Vol. 21, No. 27, Section 2, p. 1, cols. 4-6.
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Below is a list of prior Historic Pelham Blog postings that touch on firefighting and the history of firefighting units within the Town of Pelham.
Tue., Dec. 06, 2016: An Account of the Tragic Vaughan Livery Stable Fire in Pelhamville in 1907.
Tue., Oct. 04, 2016: Harry R. King, Fire Chief of the First Fire District From 1911 to 1913.
Wed., Jun. 15, 2016: Organized Volunteer Fire Fighting in Pelhamville Began as Early as 1885.
Tue., Jun. 14, 2016: The First Annual Inspection of Pelhamville Fire Fighting Units in 1894.
Tue., Jun. 07, 2016: When Did Pelham's Minneford Engine Company Acquire its First Fire-Fighting Steam Engine?
Mon., May 16, 2016: Fatal Fire in 1902 at One Fifth Avenue Burned Down the Post Office and Pharmacy.
Fri., Apr. 29, 2016: Famous Meyers Mansion in Pelham Manor Burned Down in 1897.
Thu., Apr. 28, 2016: Pelham Manor Dutifully Extinguished a Fire That Nearly Burned Down its Hated Wooden Train Station in 1896.
Mon., Jan. 04, 2016: Pelham Manor Voters Voted to Disband the Pelham Manor Fire Department in 1928.
Mon., Dec. 14, 2015: Early History of the Village of Pelham Manor Fire Department.
Fri., Dec. 11, 2015: Evidence of An Early Independent Firefighting Unit in Pelham Named "Indians."
Thu., Dec. 10, 2015: Grand Fire-Fighting Competition and Parade Held in the Town of Pelham in 1891.
Wed., Dec. 09, 2015: Pelham's Minneford Engine Company Built a New Fire House on City Island in 1894.
Mon., Dec. 07, 2015: The Code Used on the City Island Fire Bell in the Late 19th Century Used for Fire Alarms.
Mon., Nov. 30, 2015: Another Detailed Account of the 1901 Fire that Destroyed the Clubhouse of the New York Athletic Club on Travers Island.
Fri., Nov. 20, 2015: Account of 1894 Fire in One of Pelham's Earliest Newspapers.
Wed., Sep. 30, 2015: Was it Arson that Destroyed the Prospect Hill School at Jackson and Plymouth Avenues in 1917?
Thu., Sep. 17, 2015: An Account of the February 28, 1925 Fire at Pelhamdale, A Home on the National Register of Historic Places.
Fri., Jun. 12, 2015: The Tumultuous Reign of Pelham Manor Fire Chief J. Louis Cunningham in the Early 1900s.
Tue., Jun. 09, 2015: Reminiscences of Firemen Who Served From 1893 Until 1923 in North Pelham.
Wed., Jun. 03, 2015: The Bell in Firemen's Memorial Park at First Street and Wolfs Lane.
Tue., Jun. 02, 2015: Important Early Images of the Pelham Fire Department.
Fri., May 22, 2015: History of Pelham's Beloved "Nott Steamer" Known as "Jim Reilly's Boiler."
Thu., Mar. 26, 2015: Fire Destroyed the Old Pelham Manor Post Office in 1945.
Fri., Mar. 20, 2015: Fire in 1932 Devastated the Bolton Priory in Pelham Manor.
Tue., Feb. 17, 2015: More on the Early History of Organized Firefighting in the Settlement of Pelhamville.
Mon., Feb. 16, 2015: The Great Furniture Fight of 1896: Company of Pelhamville Firemen Resigned En Masse.
Thu., Feb. 12, 2015: Rare 19th Century Image of Pelhamville Firemen Who Served in Relief Hook and Ladder Company No. 1.
Fri., Dec. 12, 2014: Parade and Housewarming Hosted by Pelhamville Fire Department in 1894.
Thu., Dec. 11, 2014: Pelhamville's First Attempt to Create a Fire Department in 1893 Failed Due to a Legal Technicality.
Thu., Jul. 24, 2014: Dedication of the New Fire Headquarters in the Village of Pelham on December 29, 1927.
Wed., Jul. 02, 2014: Election Shenanigans Involving Fire Commissioner Election in 1898.
Thu., Apr. 24, 2014: Information About the History of Fire Departments in the Town of Pelham Published in 1927.
Thu., Jan. 30, 2014: The Night Pelham's Town Hall Burned.
Fri., Jan. 24, 2014: Early Days of Organized Fire Fighting in Today's Village of Pelham.
Thu., Jan. 23, 2014: Another Account of the Devastating Fire that Destroyed the Travers Island Clubhouse of New York Athletic Club in 1901.
Wed., May 12, 2010: Fire Partly Destroyed Pelham Town Hall in 1908.
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.
Fri., Sep. 04, 2009: 1901 Newspaper Article About Fire that Burned New York Athletic Club Clubhouse on Travers Island.
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., Feb. 19, 2009: The Old Hunter House Burns to the Ground in an Arson Incident on Travers Island on April 4, 1889.
Thu., Jan. 19, 2006: Pelham Manor's Earliest Fire Fighting Equipment.
Wed., Jan. 18, 2006: Newspaper Report of the Infamous Vaughan's Livery Stable Fire in North Pelham in 1907.
Mon., Oct. 17, 2005: The Firemen's Memorial of the Pelham Fire Department.
Mon., Aug. 01, 2005: An 1896 Inspection and Drill of the Fire Department in Pelham.
Tue., May 31, 2005: The June 6, 1940 Fire That Destroyed the George M. Reynolds Mansion (Part I of II).
Wed., Jun. 01, 2005: The June 6, 1940 Fire That Destroyed the George M. Reynolds Mansion (Part II of II).
Fri., May 06, 2005: The Great Furniture Battle at Pelhamville's Relief Hook and Ladder Company in 1896.
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