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 1960 the contract with the Town for fire protection was $2,300.00. The first signs of interest in the medical field begin as a first aid course was held and a breathing resuscitator was purchased. It was also approved to purchase a 500 gallon per minute front mount pump for the 1959 Ford water tanker.

May 1960 a lease was obtained on land owned by Helena Schaber at the corner of Route 79 and Route 327. The land is to be used to hold the annual Carnival. It was also discussed the possibility of obtaining an option to buy the land.

June 1960 the first kiddie’s parade was held at the annual carnival.

July 1960 it was approved after a long discussion that in the future the fireworks company workers would only be entitled to 5 dozen clams and 10 cans of beer. Orville Rumsey will build an electric power shed on the carnival grounds.

December 1960 it was decided to use ballots at elections and to file same.

July 1961 the Enfield firemen ran the clam concession at the McLean Firemen’s Carnival.

Permission was received from the Baptist Church to put up the siren on their property across the road from the Fire House. It was approved to purchase 200 feet of 2.5 inch hose every year. Only firemen in parade uniforms will be allowed to ride the bus during the parades.

August 1961 an alarm system was installed in the Fire House. The system was a charged freon heat detection system that activated a freon horn outside the building. It was approved to purchase 6 pair of sneakers for the Enfield "Nozzleknockers" Hose team.

November 1961 four raincoats were purchased at $8.40 each.

January 1962 the fire protection contract with the Town was for $3,000.00

September 1962 a new 1963 Ford F-750 chassis was purchased for $3,989.00. Vern Naragon was to install a used fuel tank purchased from G.L.F. on the chassis.

December 31 1962 two houses burned to the ground as blizzard conditions made roads nearly impassable. At 10:45AM the Sloan residence on Tucker Rd was destroyed and at 6:45PM a house in the 500 block of East Enfield Center Rd. burned to the ground

April 1963 the Fire Company was to help the highway department put up new town road name signs.

September 1963 the parade bus was put up for sale. New blacktop was installed in front of the Fire House at a cost of $350.00.

February 1964 the first portable walkie-talkie radios were purchased.

September 1964 the Dodge water tanker was sold to the Speedsville Fire Department for $300.00.

October 1964 a Dodge pickup truck was purchased for $1,995.00 to be used for grass fires and other odd jobs.

November 1964 there was a major barn fire at Alfred Eddy's on Bostwick Road. The Fire Company was on the scene for 2 days.

April 1965 two Scott air packs were purchased to help firemen breathe in smoky fires.

June 1965 discussions on purchasing the carnival grounds but no action taken.

November 1965 it was decided to hold a dance every 2 months for firemen and their families. This was to help stimulate the membership in becoming more active.

January 1966 the first set of mechanics wrenches and sockets were purchased so members could do maintenance on the fire trucks.

January 1967 the fire contract for fire protection with the Town increased to $3,400.00

February 1967 the Newfield Fire Company was discussing the idea of putting a sub-station in Trumbulls Corners with the help of the Enfield Fire Company.

March 12 1967 an early morning fire leveled the house located on the Hoffman farm on Bostwick Rd. This fire was also part of a nationwide investigation involving Virginia Hoffman Rearden

June 1967 after a very lengthy discussion and noting financial problems, the membership voted in the late hours of the night to purchase a new 1967 Ford/Ward LaFrance fire truck. The truck was to be equipped with a 750 gallon per minute pump and a 750 gallon water tank for a cost of $15,000.00

December 1967 the Town of Ithaca approached the Enfield Fire Company to talk of the possibility of covering part of their town.

December 26,1967 the new Ford/Ward LaFrance was delivered.

January 1968 the fire protection contract with the Town was for 3 years at $4,000.00 per year.

January 18,1968 the new Ford/Ward LaFrance responded to its first call at Dave Gunning's house on Harvey Hill Road. The house was a total loss.

April 1968 the Chief reports that there are way too many grass fires.

May 1968 a second fire siren is installed on John Smith's barn on South Applegate Road to better cover the town.

October 1968 talks began on purchasing land on Mecklenburg Road for a new fire station the exact location is unclear.

December 1968 Babcock Poultry talks of donating land on the north end of Sage Road to the Fire Company for the purpose of constructing a sub-station.

January 1969 the idea of constructing a sub-station on Sage Road is voted down due the high costs.

February 1969 a direct phone line was installed to the Ithaca Central Fire Station to answer fire calls in case Enfield's fire phone to Newhart's was out. With this phone line Ithaca could also activate the fire siren in Enfield.

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