History of our Fire Company

First things first! Hats off to those fellows who gave us such a wonderful start! Late in 1919 a small group of civic-minded property owners decided they wanted fire protection. So we did something about it. Led by Marvin Foster worked long and diligently to organize and equip a fire department.

 

Our first meeting was held January 7th, 1920, in the garage of Garrett Ives. Subsequent meetings were held in the garage of Ed Prediger, the store of Nelson Fisher, and the old schoolhouse on the Back Street. At the first official meeting, the following officers were elected:

  • President- Marvin Foster
  • Vice-President- Jacob Veith
  • Treasurer- Nelson Fisher
  • Secretary- Garrett Ives
  • Captain- George Prediger

The first piece of equipment purchased by the volunteers was an Obertine Boyer Double Tank Engine and a hand-drawn chemical wagon at a cost of $625 from the Buffalo Fire Extinguisher Co.!

 

In the spring of 1920 we became incorporated, with a company membership of seventy-four active men. When I say active that's just what I mean. In addition to fighting fires we did much work on the building, with much volunteer labor, inside and out. In order to house this new equipment, a building was begun on October 4th, 1920. We had to put a fence around it, level off the ground, paint inside, etc.

 

We had various sports contests. In June 1921, Eagle Mills challenged us to a “Tug of War” but we don't remember who won. Our first Captain, George Prediger, (no Chief in those days) believed in the old adage,

“All play and no work makes Jack a dull boy”, Because he ordered a gallon of cleaner and polish for us to use to keep the apparatus clean and shiny. The building was completed by November, 1921, when the first voting was held there. The upstairs was not finished off at first and neither was the kitchen. In fact the kitchen was not finished until our Ladies Auxiliary became organized and worked extremely hard to pay for its construction. You know those ladies did a wonderful job then, just as they do now. A volunteer fire company that has a Ladies auxiliary is very fortunate indeed. The Ladies Auxiliary has always been an extremely active group. Thousands of dollars have been earned by the Auxiliary since its formation in the 1920’s. Much of this money has been turned over to “the men” so that their financial load could be lightened and their time freed for the work, training and equipment care. In the 1930’s “Bunco” Parties were run by the Auxiliary. In the 1940’s Bingo was started and continued for several years with prizes being donated by local merchants. Bingo was a popular until the state banned and outlawed smoking indoors.

By this time we had accumulated a debt of $2500. In order to pay it off we worked hard, just about as hard as we do today. We had a great deal of fun running dances, putting on suppers, giving community spreads, and entertainments of all sorts. Probably what we were really noted for were those old fashioned 4th of July celebrations with filibuster parades. Mrs. Erma Fisher and her committee directed the filibuster parades which attracted thousands of people to Poestenkill for many years.

 

The first of the annual field days was on July 4th, 1920. It was held in “Jake” Veith's pasture on the White Church Road. They have been held continuously ever since, being interrupted only by World War II.

Naturally we didn't have a modern short wave hookup such as there is today. Why we didn't even have telephones. In the early days alarms were sounded by wildly ringing the church bells. In 1925 we purchased a new electric siren, for $36.75. In 1941 we upgraded it to a 5hp single phase.

 

About the middle of the 1920’s, around 1925-1926, everything became motorized; so our progressive organization invested in more up-to-date apparatus. The tanks were taken from the Obertine Boyer and put on a 1926 Model T Ford, which replaced the hand drawn chemical wagon. This was replaced later by a 1932 Ford. Finally in 1939, we the company voted to go all out and purchase a new American LaFrance pumper mounted on an International truck. Well as the town grew, the Company grew too. Our membership increased as more people became interested. We continued our expansion program, and soon we had firemanic equipment at Barberville, and in 1951 a building was erected in East Poestenkill. A tank truck and pumper were housed there. Wings were added to the original building in Poestenkill Village to house the additional equipment.

 

In addition to offering fire protection to our town, and in 1948 an emergency or first aid squad was organized and trained by Charles Brunelle. Many such emergency crews around are independent organizations, but ours is affiliated with our fire department. We can well be proud of the work of this small group of men and woman. In February 1950 definite plans were made for the purchase of an inhalator anf the training of a group qualified to render this emergency service. In 1951, a 1942 Buick ambulance was purchased. Captain Rev. Frank Wibrial soon had a crew well qualified to render emergency services. At first it consisted of men only. But later in 1951 twelve women took the necessary training and became fully fledged members of the squad.

 

Improvements continue, both in the training of the personnel and in the efficiency of the equipment. Under the direction of Captain Wibrial the services this group rendered increased rapidly. In addition to the inhalator we soon acquired a resuscitator. This very active group soon had many other pieces of life saving equipment. Another group, trained in rescue work, used a fully-equipped 1960 Ford rescue truck.

 

The Poestenkill Fire Company is one of the few in Rensselaer County owner by its membership. The town contracts with the fire company to provide services on a bi-yearly basis for fire protection. Since the monies received from the town for fire protection does not cover the expenses of running the Poestenkill Fire Services. The members have to depend on public contributions, dinners, car shows and other such money raising ventures to “make ends meet”. The construction of this new building was dreamed of for many years and finally begun in October 1974, and completed in August 1975. All money used to bulit the firehouse on main ave was all paid for my money raised. A suitable home to house the equipment and carry on the training of the hard working volunteers - carrying on the work begun in 1919.

 

Citizens of Poestenkill may well be proud of the volunteers, and rest assured that qualified and well-trained personnel are on twenty-four hour call to protect and help in emergencies. At this time we would like to “Thank” all of the wonderful people for the very generous donations and willing cooperation. Without this our company would be unable to render these various services.

 

Support Your Local Volunteers!

 

Highlights:

  • 1919 -1920 -First Meetings
  • 1939 -Purchased first new pumper
  • 1946 -Joined Rensselaer County Fire Chief’s Association
  • 1948 -Formation of Rescue Squad
  • 1949 -Purchased first tank truck
  • 1951 -Purchased first Ambulance
  • 1951 -New building erected at East Poestenkill
  • 1958 -Purchased new pumper

All the above content has been taken from the following literature:

  • April 13th, 1958, Poestenkill Fire Company, Inc., 1919 -1958 Open House Flyer
  • September 27th, 1975, Poestenkill Volunteer Fire Company, Dedication Ceremony Flyer

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