Athens Fire Companies

Athens Fire Companies
& Athens Ladies Auxiliaries

Transcribed by Sharon Palmateer from the Greene County Volunteer Firemenís Association 1889-1989 One-Hundred Years of Fire Service History

W. C. Brady Hook & Ladder Co., #1 - Athens, NY

June 11, 1805, the Village Board decided to open a book for subscription for fire companies to man two fire engines. July 26, 1805, they passed the first village law. As it was first in the minds of our founders so should it be first with us always--"The prevention and extinguishing of fires."

It all started with leather buckets hanging inside the doors of each house, then progressed to horse drawn fire engines. In June of 1858, the Village Board decided to first procure one fire engine, and all necessary implements for a Hook and Ladder Company; along with the land to erect a suitable Engine House. September 6, 1858, Misters Cook and Peleubet were to build a carriage for the conveyance of the Hook and Ladders.

At a special meeting on January 24, the Board disbanded the Fire Companies 1 & 2 and invited them to rejoin the new Engine Company #3 and the Hook & Ladder Company #1. February 7, 1859, the Hook and Ladder Company had 20 members.

In June of 1860, the Board appointed the members of the two Fire Companies as special police for the 4th of July, in case of riot. By August 7, 1862, the number of Hook and Ladder members was increased to 26. In October of 1871, the building occupied by Rescue Hook and Ladder Co. was broken into, with lamps and other property being broken. The Village Board offered a reward of $25 for information leading to the conviction of person or persons committing the offense.

Apr 21, 1873, lamp posts were to be erected in front of the fire house. In 1877, the firemen voted to purchase three lanterns--red, white and blue. They were also to have lamps to put on their fire truck at this time.

Forty-two members were listed in the Hook and Ladder Company for the year of 1884. The year of 1884 (September) saw our men requesting to disband the company and organize a new company. October 1884, a motion was made to keep the old name. In June of 1889, it was voted by the taxpayers to have a new fire house built and to sell the old one.

Mr. E. M. Rumsey, agent for the manufacturer of the new Hook & Ladder truck, appeared and made a contract with the Board for a new truck at the cost of $500. March 7, 1894, the truck was purchased from S. F. Hayward & Co., 365 Canal St., New York.

To our volunteers, the prevention and extinguishing of fires in the Village of Athens has top priority; the best equipment is available to them; and there is a constant need for new information on fighting fires. It is all done by volunteers, men and now some women, who hold other jobs and drop everything to risk their lives in order to respond to the tones over monitors or the wail of a fire alarm to save the lives or property of others.

It was much more difficult in 1805 with only leather buckets to carry water to the hand pumped fire engines; but in todayís world it is equally difficult, and much more hazardous, with new materials and chemicals that are continuously being invented.

Transcriberís Note: The Village of Athens consolidated the W. C. Brady Hook & Ladder Co. #1, William H. Morton Engine Co. #1 and the Makawomuc Engine Co. #3 into a single Athens Fire Company in April 2002 which will be housed in a new firehouse being constructed on Third Street.

 Ladies Auxiliary of the W. C. Brady Hook & Ladder Co., #1 - Athens, NY

The first regular meeting of the newly formed W. C. Brady Ladies Auxiliary was held on October 22, 1979, with ten ladies attending.

The first order of business was a warm welcome, and each lady received a copy of the By-Laws of the organization. This was followed by the elections of officers and newly formed committees, with everyone graciously volunteering to serve.

The auxiliary promotes fellowship between the company and auxiliary by sharing in spaghetti dinners, covered dish suppers and family picnics.

The W. C. Brady Ladies Auxiliary is famous for its deep-fried bread dough, made and sold at the annual firemenís bazaar held in the summer. The ladies also cook and serve at the annual "Old Timers" banquet that the firemen sponsor. All the food is homemade, including the dessert of mouth-watering apple pie.

The auxiliary promotes a general feeling of good will in the community by not forgetting the children. In the past, the children were given an Easter party complete with movies and Easter treats. On holidays, the Athensí Rest Home is remembered with the donation of purchased and homemade gifts.

Fire Prevention Week finds the firemen taking the fire apparatus to the Athensí Elementary School. Each class inspects the equipment and gets to ask questions. The auxiliary sponsors poster and essay contests for the children.

Sponsoring the Red Cross Bloodmobile has been a great success.

The kitchen is always supplied with food and drink needed to aid the firefighters in emergency situations.

The ladies have participated in many parades and activities, both in the village and neighboring communities. We are very happy to take part in the anniversary of the Greene County Volunteer Firemenís Association.

William H. Morton Engine Company #1 - Athens, NY

The year was 1870 and the Village of Athens was growing. It was undoubtedly due to the Villageís increase in growth that the residents of Athens demanded more fire protection. The Fire Company at the time was named the Makawomuc Company. Their performance in the protection of lives and property had been outstanding, thus far.

It was decided that the Village would buy a new Steam Engine and this Engine was purchased from the firm of Clapp and Jones, Hudson, NY. The engine was brought from Hudson over the frozen river in March of 1870. Though the condition of the riverís ice was deteriorating, the men in charge of delivering the engine laid planks down on the ice, and through the painstaking task of constantly shifting the planks the new steam engine was brought safely across the river. This engine was placed in the Makawomucís quarters which was located in the part of Athens known as the Lower Village. The Makawomuc Company was then placed in a new fire house which was located in the other section of Athens known as the Upper Village.

The purchase of a new steam engine and the placing of the old hand pumper from the Lower Village to the Upper Village necessitated the organizing of another Volunteer Fire Company. The new company and engine were named the William H. Morton Steamer Company. This was in honor of Mr. William H. Morton, a prominent citizen of Athens and the individual most instrumental in procuring the new steam engine. The members of the Makawomuc Company were transferred to the membership roll of the Morton Company. An entire new company of men from the Upper Village took over the Makawomuc Company. The new Morton Steamer Company took over the building formerly used by the Makawomuc Company.

The village of Athens had a new fire house erected in the year of 1889. This building was shared by the William H. Morton Steamer Company and the W. C. Brady Rescue Company. The name of the Rescue Company was later changed to the W. C. Brady Hook and Ladder Company #1. Both fire companies are currently occupying this same building.

Times are always changing, so in the need to provide better fire-fighting capabilities, the equipment had to be updated as well. From the steam engine, they went to a Westinghouse horsedrawn gasoline engine pumper. The first motorized unit for the Mortonís was a 1922 Graham Bros. pumper (built by Dodge) thus changing the companyís name to be William H. Morton Engine Company #1 of Athens, NY. Next came a 1927(?) Sanford 500 GPM Pumper which the Village purchased from Claverack, NY. The apparatus changed in 1951 as the Company was presented with a new Mack Fire Engine. This very fine piece of equipment performed admirably until the Village bought a new 1977 American La France 1250 GPM Pumper. This new truck arrived in January of 1978 and is with us presently.

The old hand pumper, dated 1844, which was the equipment the Makawomuc Company had years before and sold when it was replaced by the Village, now belongs to the Morton Company. An Athenian, Mr. Andrew Peloubet, spotted the old pumper while in Kingston, NY and bought it. He then, with the help of Mr. Blanchard Dedrick and Mr. Clarence Truesdell, Jr. renovated it and gave it to the Morton Company. They took it for several years to Firemenís events and pumped water with it. We are proud of this antique piece of equipment.

Almost all Fire Companies and Departments enjoy participating in parades and the Morton Company has been no exception. There are three Fire Companies in the Village of Athens. For many years, they marched individually and were always noted for their smart looking uniforms and their marching ability. It was about 1970 when the Morton and Brady Companies decided to join forces and march as one unit under the banner of the Athens Fire Department. They purchased new Class A Uniforms and bought equipment to form their own Drum Line. This has been a wise and regarding decision as it has resulted in winning several trophies in the categories of Best Appearing, Best Drum Line and Best Color Guard.

The William H. Morton Engine company #1 of Athens, NY, though 118 years old, is still going strong.

Ladies Auxiliary of the W. H. Morton Engine Company #1 - Athens, NY

The William H. Morton Engine Company Ladies Auxiliary was reorganized on January 29, 1980. The first order of business was Election of Officers and to have By-Laws drawn up.

The former auxiliary had been active until about 1965, when they disbanded. (Records unavailable)

Since our primary goal was to help our firemen, the auxiliary had many raffles, bakesales, etc., to raise funds to purchase much needed supplies for the kitchen.

March 4, 1980 would have been our third meeting, but actually became a CRASH course in Ďemergencyí refreshments for the men at the scene of a ĎBIGí fire.

This brought home the fact that we not only needed supplies and equipment in the kitchen, but most of all, that our main function was and IS to help our fire personnel in any way that we can. Such as, serving refreshments at fires, helping plan, make and serve the meal at the Old Timers Banquet and to remember our firemen at the Home.

We were invited by the Bradysí Ladies Auxiliary to march with them as the Athens Fire Department Auxiliary. So we began getting together uniforms and deciding who wanted to march.

Once our auxiliary was established, requests for donations were received.

In making donations, a few outstanding ones were: to the Athens First Responders and to an auxiliary member towards expenses for her young daughter, an unfortunate burn victim.

This also includes donations to the Firemenís Home for Greene County Day and the Christmas parties which are hosted by different County Auxiliaries.

We are still meeting regularly and going strong. We will continue to help our fire personnel in any way we can, as this is the purpose for any auxiliary.

Makawomuc Engine Co. #3 - Athens, NY

The Athens Fire Department was organized in 1805. In 1858, the Village Board reorganized the Department and built a new firehouse on Franklin Street. The Board allocated funds to purchase a new engine, which created the Makawomuc Company. (The name Makawomuc was taken from the site of an Indian encampment commonly called Black Rock. Makawomuc was a reputed name of one of the early Delaware Chiefs.)

Twelve years later in 1870, as more fire protection was needed, the village purchased a new steam engine and placed it in the Franklin Street Firehouse. The former engine was placed in a firehouse in the Upper Village, relocating the Makawomuc Fire Company to its present day site. The Franklin Street Firehouse became the home of a newly organized fire Company named the Wm. H. Morton Steamer Company.

In 1892, the Makawomuc and Brady Companies had the honor of being Statewide Champions in a drilling contest held in Coney Island.

In 1923, the old hand pumper was replaced with a new motor driven apparatus made by Dodge.

In 1954, the Makawomuc Engine Company received a 500 gallon per minute pumper built by American Fire Apparatus.

In 1974, members of the Makawomuc Engine Company placed in service an Equipment Van which was paid for through funds raised by company members.

In 1985, the Maks received a new pumper built by FMC, which is a 1000 gallon per minute pumper, carrying 750 gallons of water and has a new electronically controlled pump system.

Past Fire Chiefs were: Thomas Ciampa
Peter Bruno
Thomas Petramale
Anthony DelVecchio and
Eugene Fandozzi.

The Makawomuc Engine Company No. 3 has participated in many activities through the years. Their major activity has been Pizza pie sales, which they have been doing for 30 years. Other activities have been spaghetti dinners, a company band, baseball games and the establishment of school scholarships.

The present officers are:
President...............................John Pampris
Vice President......................Michael Pieruzzi
Secretary...............................David Whiteman
Treasurer...............................Eugene Salvino, Jr.
Financial Secretary..............Anthony DelVecchio, Jr.
Chief......................................Al Williams
First Assít Captain..............John Whiteman
Second Assít Captain.........Ray Williams

Ladies Auxiliary of the Makawomuc Engine Co. #3 - Athens, NY

The Makawomuc Ladies Auxiliary was formed in 1961. The founding members were Betty Bruno, Ann Ciampa, Betty DelVecchio, Eileen Gerrain, Marguerite Massalli, Mary Pieruzzi, Ann Pulice and Lillian Salvino.

Through the years, the auxiliary has had many fund raisers, such as hat and dress sales, bake sales, cookbooks, raffles and spaghetti dinners.

Activities we have supported were an annual Christmas party for the men, a Halloween party for the Company, served coffee and food at fires, did coupon trade and the annual menís dinner.

The present auxiliary officers are:
President....................Ann Ciampa
Vice President...........Mary Ann Tompkins
Treasurer....................Lillian Salvino
Secretary....................Terry Salvino

West Athens-Limestreet Fire Company - Athens, NY

The West Athens-Limestreet Fire Company was organized on March 13, 1952. The first Constitution and By-Laws were adopted on March 27, 1952. The Board of Fire Commissioners of the West Athens-Limestreet Fire District in the Town of Athens was created by a resolution of the Town of Athens adopted on February 1, 1954. Nestled within the border of three towns, the Fire District has mutual aid plans with six fire companies.

Property had been acquired and Firehouse No. 1 was built in Limestreet. A 1954 Chevrolet 500 gallon pumper was purchased and placed into service.

For years the Fire Company, jointly with the Ladies Auxiliary, held its Annual Bazaar on the east side of the intersection of Route 9W and Schoharie Turnpike. Also, dances open to the public, were held yearly by the Fire Company and/or the Ladies Auxiliary at the White Swan Inn and then the Green Lake Homestead to help raise funds.

In 1962, property was donated by Henry Rapp and Firehouse No. 2 was built including a pond at the intersection of Route 9W and Leeds-Athens Road to protect the lower end of the Fire District. A 1962 GMC 100- gallon Engine-Tanker with front mount pump was purchased and placed into service.

The original uniforms for the Fire Company were obtained from the Hunter Fire Company No. 1 and then followed by uniforms donated from W. C. Brady Hook & Ladder Company No. 1. However, in 1975, the Fire Company purchased their own new uniforms. Also in that year, a six piece Drum Line was formed to be used for participation in parades.

In 1978, a 1953 GMC Army Truck from the Athens Highway Department was obtained and a 2100 gallon used tank was installed and this tanker was placed into service. In 1979, a 1968 Jeep was obtained from Greene County Civil Defense and was placed into service to bring the number of fire fighting vehicles in the Fire District to a total of four.

1981 to 1982 saw the restoration of both Firehouses through the cooperation of the Hudson Correctional Facility. Also, 1982 saw the painting of both Army trucks by the Hudson Correctional Facility.

A Dinner-Dance is held each fall to award service pins and gifts to outgoing officers. In 1982, the Fire Company presented 14 members with Life Membership pins and plaques for 25 or more years of continued dedicated service to the Fire Company and the community. In 1984, we saw the start of the annual presentation of the Fire-Fighter of the Year award at the annual banquet.

In 1984, the Board of Fire Commissioners purchased a 1964 FWD Engine-Tanker with 1000 gallon tank from the Good Will Fire Company of Newburgh and retired the 1954 Chevy pumper.

Through the years, the community has given the Fire Company great support of its dances, bazaars, clam steams, pancake dinners, spaghetti dinners, 20 week clubs, tag days and raffles and the Fire Company is very appreciative.

West Athens-Limestreet has seen many major fires in its short existence with such ones as the Sage Coal & Lumber Yard which saw the closing of the New York State Thruway because of the burning shingles. Most recently the Fire Company saw the devastation of the well-known Bambi Manor which was seen by many along the New York State Thruway.

In 1977, the West Athens-Limestreet Fire Company was a forerunner of changing times and admitted the first woman member. Since that time, the Fire Company has had five women firefighters.

In 1988, the 1954 Chevy was returned to service and the Fire Company saw the removal from service, the Army Jeep pickup and the 2100 gallon tanker.

Work has now been started to purchase a new fire truck and plans for a 1990 arrival is in the future.

1989 has seen yet another purchase of new fire Company uniforms.

At present the Fire Company has 37 active members and 17 social members for a total of 54 members, 13 of which are Life Members.

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