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Firemen's Association of the State of New York
Welcome to the website of the Chittenango Volunteer Fire Department
175 Year History Overview 1842-2017
The Village of Chittenango was founded in 1809 but didn't have much fire protection until it incorporated in 1842.
On May 30, 1842 the Village of Chittenango appointed 24 firemen and 9 men to make up a hook and ladder company. Because the Village was incorporated they could raise money through levying taxes to pay for fire protection so in November 1842 it was decided by a vote of 75 to 12 to raise $250 to finance a fire engine and hook and ladder apparatus. The first engine they purchased was defective so a second engine was purchased from a company in Rochester for $325 and was paid for in 1843.
The first fire house was constructed in 1843 for a cost $142.62 and was located at what we now call Stickles Park. Because the fire house did not fit the needs of the department a new 18x26 two story firehouse was constructed at the same location in 1848 for cost of $400. In 1882 money was again raised to construct a new firehouse that was 26x40 and finished in red brick. This station was constructed in 1883 and is now the Benson Law Office at 234 Genesee Street. This was the home of the fire department for 67 years until 1950 when the fire department moved to its current location at 417 Genesee Street. At that time the building was home to not only the fire department but also the Village Police Department and Highway Department and all other Village operations. In 1975 the Fire Department purchased the building for $90,000 and used the entire building.
From its creation in 1842 through 1921 the department went through several periods of reorganization at which time all new members were appointed. During the 1921 reorganization 30 new members were appointed and the Village purchased a new model T Ford fire engine. The Chief of the department was John J. Johnson. In 1928 a 500 gallon combination pumper was also purchased.
Then in 1931 through the efforts of Elgin Walrath a new fire district was set up that included all of the Town of Sullivan and the Village of Chittenango. At that time the Town of Sullivan purchased a fire engine for the department. It is believed that this is about the time that the department transformed into what is now known as the Town of Sullivan Fire District. In 1935 the department made up a Ford pumper to add to the fleet and the Town of Sullivan purchased a fire engine for the Village of Bridgeport where a station had been constructed and a department had been formed.
In 1942 the department held their first field days in an effort to raise funds. The department held this event every year until 1992 when it was decided to no longer hold the event due to concerns over serving alcohol during the event. Our department was one of the first in the are to stop holding these events.
In 1956 the Chittenango Fire Department purchased and provided an ambulance service for the area. The department totally funded this operation including the cost of the vehicles. The oxygen service saved many lives and was donated by the Chittenango Rotary. The first PCR on record was dated 3/20/56. This service was provided until 1989 when the Town of Sullivan contracted to a paid service to provide coverage for the area. For a short time the department provided the backup ambulance and when it was time to replace the ambulance it was decided to just provide medical personnel transport to the scene in our squad to assist when needed.
For many years it was believed that the firemen was an all male organization until around the late 1970's when we had our first female firefighter join. Today we have many more female firefighters that help protect our citizens and they are a very important part of this organization. Today the Chittenango Fire Department is one of three departments that make up the Town of Sullivan Fire District. The Chittenango Fire Company owns the building that the department occupies and the Town of Sullivan owns the apparatus and equipment. We currently have 42 members that are active and many more reserve and inactive life members.
Over the last 175 years there have been many changes in equipment, training and tactics, although the goal of protecting the residents remains the same.
The above 175 year history was compiled from past records, documents and news articles, plus my personal experiences since joining in 1969 and information from other members.
Bob Freunscht, member 1969-present, Past Chief and current Treasurer