Frequently Asked Questions - History

FAQs - History

On January 22,1998 the Enfield Volunteer Fire Company Incorporated celebrated its 50th anniversary. Things have come a long way in the first 50 years, the company has grown from 1 piece of fire apparatus to a fleet of seven. The 2 bay fire station with a meeting hall on the second floor is now just a predecessor to the very spacious new facility which has 8 apparatus bays, wash bay, repair bay, meeting room, kitchen, conference room, communication room, office area, bathroom and shower facilities, decontamination room, locker and physical fitness room. The new station was built due to the very small overhead doors and ceilings in the old station which could not accommodate the newer and much bigger apparatus.

Personal protective clothing which used to be as simple as a raincoat, rubber boots and gloves along with a safari type helmet is now a very sophisticated set of clothing. Fire retardant fabrics, moisture barriers, and liner systems now make up just the simplest fire coat. Helmets must meet very stringent impact standards to withstand any falling debris. All equipment must now meet strict OSHA. requirements and Standard Operating Procedures are required.

Record keeping has gone from a simple diary type entry with a list of members who attended to computer data entries with hundreds of codes to determine all the who, where, how, and whys imaginable. Early entries show address listings to be as simple as just the Tucker farm, back then everybody knew everybody and two homes may be all that encompassed a mile square block. Now without a specific house number you probably would not have a clue to where to even begin.

Membership over the years has been maintained at a very adequate level though being a volunteer in Enfield at times is not easy. On top of the many hours spent on training, work details, fire and rescue calls the membership must continue to obtain funding to keep the Fire Company in operation. Justification to the Town Board and taxpayers of funds needed to operate the company is a continuing battle and consumes many hours. Many of the Fire Company Board of Directors have been on the Board for years while Town Board members change almost every four years. This inconsistency in Town Board members means that every four years its like starting all over as far as justifying funds. This can be very frustrating to say the least, many Town Board meetings became very vocal and sometimes personal. Even with this major hurdle, Fire Company officials have been able to maintain adequate funding over the years. Most of the money is spent on preventive maintenance and preparing for emergencies. The Fire Company does not have the luxury of coming back later if something breaks or your members are not trained for the situation. We must be prepared the best we can to handle any situation and keep things in operation.

Fire apparatus has changed drastically over the years. Pumpers with 150 horsepower engines, 500 gallon per minute pumps and 500 gallon water tanks have been replaced by 450 horsepower diesel engines, 2000 gallon per minute pumps and 3000 gallon water tanks. Much of the new fire apparatus is either totally or at least partially controlled by computer technology.

Enfield has not been exempt from major fires over the years. The most frequent location to experience a major fire, 196 S. Applegate Rd. has had 2 Garage fires, two minor house fires, one fire that destroyed the home and one small barn fire. This over a period of 50 years has leveled everything that once stood on the lot, most has been rebuilt. Or how about 344 Hines Rd. where in just a little over a year a house and two rental trailers were destroyed. Other locations have had multiple fires over the years, both the original house and barn owned by Donald Gunning at 68 Weatherby Rd. have been destroyed. The Hoffman Farm on Bostwick Rd. near Applegate Rd. has also lost both the house and barn to fire. This location along with fires at the Hoffman home located on Enfield Main Rd were part of a nationwide insurance fraud investigation involving Virginia Hoffman. She was never prosecuted for any involvement in the Enfield fires, although it was speculated she had something to do with the Bostwick Rd. fires.  But on March 2,1992 Virginia Hoffman Rearden was found guilty of 1st degree murder, conspiracy, insurance fraud, and forgery in the state of California. Her history and criminal record can be read in a book entitled “DEATH BENEFIT” by David Heilbroner.

Early records show that the Fire Company responded to mostly grass and barn fires, most of the barn fire causes were listed as lightning strikes. In the late 70's the return in popularity of wood burning stoves caused many chimney and house fires. Many problems could be contributed to the lack of proper education on wood burning stoves. During this period the emergency medical field became very popular with rural companies, many Fire Companies including Enfield started first response Rescue Squads.

So what lies ahead for the next 50 years? Well, there is a good chance that most of us will not be around to celebrate the 100th anniversary but more changes are sure to happen over the next 50 years. Equipment and apparatus are sure to continue to improve, this would be no surprise to anyone, but the big change we foresee is the staffing. Volunteers are becoming a dying breed, the time needed to become a volunteer fire-fighter and then maintain the training is more than most people want to give. Getting up in the middle of the night to respond to calls then go to your regular job, and then attend fire or rescue training in the evening is really pushing each individual. We believe you will first see paid fire officials maybe just to cover daytime calls and keep the paperwork in line, many Fire Companies are already doing this. This will be followed by either paid fire fighters or paid on call personnel. Emergency medical assistance will continue to increase as the population of the town increases. Fires will continue to be part of the job, but with the continuing emphasis on environmental issues hazardous material spills and containment will be on the increase.

Technology will test the budgets of many Fire Companies as advancements into the 21st Century will surely take us beyond your wildest dreams. Computer advancements will continue to play a part in new innovations.

Enfield Fire Company officials have always had the ability to look into the future, whether it be for the purchase of new equipment or just the needs of its volunteers. This type of planning should keep the Fire Company out in front as one of the most advanced Fire Companies in the County. Anything less would be an insult to its ancestors as the ground work laid in 1948 continues to play a part in present and future operations..

January 1949 Wesley Rolfe resigned as Treasurer due to a work conflict.

February 29,1949 the new Fire House were complete enough to have the first meeting there.

April 4,1949 it was approved to order a 1948 Chevrolet/American LaFrance fire truck with a 500 gallon per minute pump and 500 gallon water tank.

May 1949 the location of 3 fire phones was discussed so residents could report a fire. The first primary location was Newhart's Store. The first fire training was held with 20 members attending.
 
June 11,1949 a " Stag Party " was held, it was said to have drawn a very large crowd.

July 1,1949 the first contract talks with the Town for Fire Protection were held. The amount discussed is unclear. The new fire truck was delivered at a cost of $7,330.00. A loan was taken out from the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Spencer with 30 members signing the note.

July 5,1949 the new fire truck was driven in its first parade, part of the first Old Home Days held in the school yard in Enfield Center.

July 1949 the Chief assigned 8 drivers to the new fire truck. Talks of having a slot machine to help raise funds was voted down 17 to 16. A plan to have every resident in town pay 25 cents per week for 2 years to help pay off the loan on the new fire truck were discussed.

August 1949 there was talk of having a second " Stag Party " at the rifle range. The State Park donated the flagpole from the C.C. Camp to the Fire Company to be erected in front of the firehouse.

October 31,1949 the new fire truck responded to its first fire at Bostwick Corners.

November 1949 an oil furnace was installed in the firehouse to replace the wood/coal stove.

April 1950 a used one half horsepower fire siren was purchased from the Mecklenburg Fire Company.

May 1950 there was talk of purchasing a pinball machine and television set to help stimulate a larger membership, however this never appeared to happen. It was also discussed whether to respond to all grass fires or just the large ones.

July 1950 the Town donated two Indian water tanks to the Fire Company for fighting grass fires.

September 1950 a bulletin from the State recommending that Fire Companies lock all firehouses and equipment be checked on a regular basis for sabotage. A barn dance was held at Hayward's Barn.

January 1951 there was discussion with the Town about building a pond in case the creek went dry. No decision was made.

March 1951 a joint scrap drive with the Enfield Grange was held to raise funds. It was also decided that the Fire Company would sponsor Boy Scout Troop 50.

April 1951 a discussion was held to ask the Town to raise the tax rate 50 cents per thousand.

An alarm circuit was installed from Newhart's Store to the Fire House this enabled the siren to be activated from the store.

October 1951 a new battery was purchased for the fire truck. The truck was not being used enough to keep the battery charged.

March 1952 two gas masks and 4 raincoats were purchased. The first parade uniforms were purchased.

May 31 1952 house fire 196 South Applegate Rd. This location would later be the site of many fires.

August 1952 the first known hose competition team was organized and placed 2nd in the ladder climb at the Tompkins County Fair.

January 1953 the first water tanker was purchased an old Brockway fuel truck.

May 25 1953 Barn at the Hoffman farm on Bostwick Rd near Applegate Rd burns to the ground. This would later be part of a nationwide investigation involving Virginia Hoffman Rearden.

On April 8,1953 Nellie Knapp 71 year old died in a house fire on Mecklenburg Road just east of Georgia Road.

June 26,1953 the first carnival was held with a profit of $1,352.00

July 30,1953 the Ladies Auxiliary was formed.

October 1953 the Insurance Underwriters required that 10 men respond to calls within 10 minutes.

January 1954 a 5 horsepower siren was purchased for $496.00

October 1954 talks began on a civil defense radio system. The Federal Civil Defense Department saw a need to set up a radio communications system in the event of a national disaster.

January 1955 a two-year contract was signed with the Town for $1,467.00. Lyman Warren resigned as Assistant Chief.

May 1955 a new rule that trucks going and returning from parades must not exceed 45 miles per hour.

October 1955 the kitchen was moved from downstairs to upstairs. The civil defense radio and siren tests were held every Saturday at noon and Wednesdays at 7:15 PM. This required someone to be at the Fire House.

December 1955 a used ladder truck was purchased from Ithaca #9 Fire Station for $300.00. A 1947 Dodge water tanker was purchased to replace the Brockway water tanker.

February 1957 an addition to the back of the Fire House was approved at a cost of $5,000.00
This would add 2 truck bays plus hall area upstairs.

October 1957 the ladder truck was sold to Kauf Brothers for $185.00

January 1958 a two year contract was signed with the Town for $1,750.00

April 1958 a used 1000 gallon water tank was purchased from the Seneca Army Depot for $10.00

July 1958 a new Ford F-700 chassis for the 1000 water tank was purchased for $3,314.00

August 1958 a well was drilled behind the Fire House by Lee Snow Well Drilling. He found water at 67 feet at the rate of 30 gallons per minute. Septic system was also installed.

January 1959 a 50 cent fine was to be levied on any member who left the fire scene without an officer’s approval.

March 1959 a $2.00 fine was to be levied on any member for disorderly conduct. Norm Snyder resigned as President,

July 1959 an old school bus was purchased for transporting firemen and auxiliary members to parades.

August 1959 Jake Smithers resigned as a member of the Board of Directors

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