Catskill A.M. Osborn Hose Company

A.M. Osborn Hose Company

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

1886, Grover Cleveland was in the White House and Colorado had recently been admitted as the 38th state of the union.  Thomas Edison had just invented the electric light bulb and the world’s first skyscraper had just been erected in Chicago. 

It was less than 10 years since the last Union soldiers had returned home from the post civil War occupation of the South.  It would be another 10 years before the first successful gasoline driven auto would be built in the United States. 

The work week of this period was 10 hours a day, six days a week.  A child born in 1886 had a life expectancy of less than 50 years. 

On June 7th, ten men met in the quarters of the F. J. Silsby Hose Co., which had recently disbanded.  The hose house was located on Bridge Street at the present site of the Greene County Court House.  It was decided to form a new hose company and to name the company in honor of Austin Melvin Osborn, a prominent State Supreme Court Justice of the time.  Clarence Deed was elected Foreman and the new company manned the two wheeled hand-drawn hose cart which had been used by the Silsby Company.

The present quarters o the company, located on Main Street across form the Court House, were built in 1904.  It is interesting to note that the office of the President was not created until 1909 when William C. O’Brien was first elected.  The company  was incorporated on May 20th of the same year.

Many of its members have answered their country’s call to arms over the years, with two members making the supreme sacrifice.  William H. Sullivan died November 1, 1918 in the Battle of Argonne; Frank Venture died October 2, 1944 during World War II.

The hand-drawn hose cart was used until 1920 when on June 1st the company purchased a Mack truck which carried 800 feet of hose and 40 gallons of chemicals.  The company raised and paid $3,500 for this truck.  It was used until 1927 at which time the company turned it over to the village trustees as partial payment on a new truck.

On May 16, 1927, the village trustees purchased an American LaFrance fire truck with 750 GPM pumper at a cost of  $12,500.  This truck was delivered on July 20th.

In 1951, a Ward LaFrance pumper was purchased by the village trustees at a cost of $21,000.  This engine was the first 1000 GPM pumper in the county and proved to be the work horse of the department.  It distinguished itself repeatedly at major fires through the years, faithfully supplying large volumes of water.  At one point, due to a broken valve at the village reservoir, it pumped continuously for several days, being shut down only to refuel.

In September 1971, a Chevrolet Step-Van was purchased by the village trustees to be used as an equipment truck.  This vehicle carries portable lights, generator, foam equipment, miscellaneous equipment and an air cascade system for refilling self contained breathing apparatus.

In June 1978, another Ward LaFrance pumper was purchased by the village trustees at a cost of $73,000.  Again, the largest pumper in the area with a 1750 GPM pump, this diesel powered truck is destines to give many years of first-line service.

For over 100 years, members of A. M. Osborn Hose Company have served the community with pride and distinction.  May the words and deeds of those who have served in the past be an inspiration to those of us who now begin our second century of service.

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