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 1970 it was decided to install a backup fire phone line in Gregg's Store at Miller's Corners, but problems arose with the line. It was then decided to put the phone in Marion Lovelace's residence at the corner of Route 327 and Fish Road.

September 1 1970 a barn located on the James Linton farm on the East Enfield Center Rd. burns

September 1970 Richard Holley resigns as President.

January 1971 the fire protection contract with the Town was raised to $5,950.00

March 3 1971 roads were just barely passable, after a major winter snow storm, when a fire destroyed a barn at 68 Weatherby Rd. owned by Donald Gunning. A number of livestock also perished in the blaze, the cause was undetermined.

May 1971 an addition was constructed on the south side of the existing Fire House. The addition was 24 feet wide x 60 feet long with one 12 foot overhead door. Charles Hubbell Construction did the work at a cost of $12,114.00

October 22 1971 fire completely destroyed a barn owned by Claire Updike on Waterburg Rd.

November 1971 Harold Clark resigned as President.

January 16 1972 a body repair shop on Mecklenburg Rd. owned by Vernon Naragon was totally destroyed by fire.
 
February 1972 it was approved to purchase 15 tone alert fire monitors as the County had gone to a radio alert system. The County Fire Control Center was now answering all calls and dispatching them to the proper fire departments.

June 1972 manpower and equipment were sent to the Elmira-Corning area to help flood victims after flood waters had devastated the area.

January 1973 two-way radios were purchased for the Chief and Assistant Chiefs linking them to the new County system.

June 1973 after costly repairs to firemen's lawn mowers, the Fire Company decides to purchase a Kubota tractor and mower for $2,100.00 to mow the carnival grounds.

October 10 1973 B&S Motorcycle located at 196 South Applegate Rd. was partially destroyed by fire.

September 1973 the first radio transmitted automatic fire alarm system was installed in the Enfield School. These alarms were sent directly to County Fire Control via radio.

 

November 1973 the fire protection contract with the Town was signed for $8,200.00 to cover 1974. Talks between the Town Board and the Fire Company were becoming increasingly difficult.

April 30 1974 for the second time in less than 7 months a fire at B&S Motorcycle, 196 South Applegate Rd. completely destroys the business.
 
July 1974 the idea of going to a Fire District was discussed.

November 1974 a two-year fire protection contract was signed with the Town for $12,500.00 per year.

April 3 1975 high winds and snow hampered efforts to control a fire at the George Holmes residence on Iradell Rd.

April 26 1975 a trash fire quickly spread to a house located in the 200 block of Hines Rd. completely gutting the structure.

May 1975 Woodside Inn at the corner of Route 79 and Rothermich Road burns to the ground during the early morning hours.

May 7 1975 Fire totally engulfs a barn owned by Robert Bock on Rockwell Rd. This was the 4th major fire in 2 months
 
June 1975 delivery was taken on a new 1975 Ford/Saulsbury pumper tanker. The truck was built in Tully N.Y. by Saulsbury Fire Apparatus and equipped with a 750 gallon per minute front mount pump and 1250 gallon water tank at a cost of $29,100.00

July 1975 the 1959 Ford water tanker was sold to the Fillmore Fire Department in western New York for $3,000.00

January 1976 Dominic Seamon was injured in a single vehicle accident with the 1967 Ford/Ward LaFrance pumper while en-route to a house fire at the intersection of Waterburg Road and Iradell Road. The accident occurred as he turned from Halseyville Road onto Iradell Road when he lost control due to road conditions, went into a deep ditch and struck the end of a culvert pipe. Dominic was hospitalized for several weeks and spent the remainder of the year recuperating from his injuries. The truck sustained heavy damage and was out of service for several months but was repaired.

January 1977 a new water tank and pump was approved to upgrade the 1963 Ford water tanker. The work to be done by Saulsbury Fire Apparatus of Tully N.Y.

February 19 1977 A house owned by Frank Gardener on Aiken Rd was completely engulfed in fire when firefighters arrived. Pieces of flying asbestos siding were mistaken for live rounds of ammunition hampering firefighting efforts.

April 16 1977 a house fire at the Andrew Herkovic residence on Rothermich Rd. was quickly brought under control. Fire Chief Jeff Brainard pulled on the scene to find fire blowing out the front windows and doors of the home. He orchestrated a perfect blitz attack bringing the fire quickly under control.

In May 1977 Merton Inman resigns as treasurer

September 1977 six members enrolled at Tompkins - Cortland Community College for the Emergency Medical Technicians course.

January 2 1978 for the second time in two years the Rought family is burned out of their home at the intersection of Iradell Rd and Waterburg Rd.

April 28 1978 A house owned by Thomas Hoffman brother of Virginia Hoffman Rearden located on Enfield Main Rd in Enfield Center is completely gutted by fire. The blaze is listed as suspicious.

June 1978 membership approved to purchase a new 1978 Chevrolet Mini-Pumper from Saulsbury Fire Apparatus. The truck was purchased totally from funds raised by the membership.

June 18 1978 The Fire Company is once again called to the gutted remains of the Hoffman residence on Enfield Main Rd. the fire takes two hours to extinguish and in labeled suspicious. The Fire Company was called back twice that day for rekindles all of suspicious origin. Finally in the best interest of safety due to the proximity of structure to the roadway and its condition the structure was allowed to burn to the ground.
 
August 1978 a Rescue Squad was organized. This squad was to respond on all medical calls in Enfield where an ambulance was dispatched. Larry Stilwell was appointed as the Rescue Captain.

 

September 22 1978 A one-car motor vehicle accident claimed the life of an Enfield teenager. Steven French age 18 was killed when the car he was driving struck a tree on Trumbulls Corners Rd. and burst into flames, burning the teenager beyond recognition. This was the second fire related fatality in Enfield history. French was the brother in law of Enfield fire-fighter and future Chief Dennis Hubbell.

January 4 1979 the Ramson Royce residence at 330 Enfield Main Rd. is completely gutted by fire.

January 6 1979 fire guts the Beadsley residence on N. VanDorn Rd.

January 18 1979 firefighters are hampered by high winds and sub freezing temperatures as fire rips through the George Head residence at 219 S. VanDorn Rd. This is the third major fire to strike in less than a month.

March 1979 the Fire Company gave its approval for support of the newly organized Hose Team to compete on the full schedule of the Central New York Hose Team Captains Association. Team members were Greg Kirchgessner, Jeff Brainard, Denny Hubbell, Charles (Ed) Simmons, Carl Hubbell and Wayne Snyder. The team used the traditional nickname "Nozzleknockers"

 

March 1979 new Mini-Pumper is delivered.

 

August 1979 approval was given for reconstruction of the 1965 Dodge pickup truck into a competition truck for the Hose Team. Work to be done by Carl Hubbell.

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