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 1980 the first Fire Investigation Team was`organized with George Palmer serving as Captain. The Hose Team also received the Sportsmanship Award for 1979 from the Central New York Hose Team Captains Association.

December 1980 the Fire Investigation Team received a $500.00 grant from the Factory Mutual Insurance Company.

October of 1981 the Fire House was dedicated in memory of the late Harry Willis, a long time Enfield firemen and supporter.

October 25 1981 high winds make firefighting difficult as fire levels the Roger Hubbard residence on Connecticut Hill Rd.

December 1981 a two-year fire protection contract with the Town was signed for $28,100.00 per year.

February 1982 an army surplus jeep was purchased from the Lansing Fire Department. It was to be converted into a brush and grass firefighting vehicle.

Although they did not receive it, the Enfield Rescue Squad was nominated for Rescue Squad of the month for saving a mans life who was involved in a motor vehicle accident on the Mecklenburg Rd. December 31,1981.

June 1982 there was talk of building a new Fire Station at the corner of Route 79 and Route 327 on what was know as the carnival grounds.

July 1982 an alternate site for the new Fire Station must be found as the Route 79/Route 327 site could not be purchased.

September 1982 the "Nozzleknockers" Hose Team clinched the 1982 Central New York Hose Team Captains Association overall point championship.

October 4,1982 seven acres of land was purchased behind the Fire House from Gladys Willis for the site of the new Fire Station.

February 1983 the 1963 Ford chassis was approved to be replaced with a new 1983 Ford F-800 chassis. Halpin Fire Apparatus of Elmira, New York will do the work removing the tanker body from the old chassis and placing it on the new one.

May 21 1983 two ultra light airplanes collide over Enfield Center Rd near Enfield Main Rd. sending both plummeting to the ground. One landed in a large willow tree saving the pilot from any fatal injuries the other struck the ground killing the pilot.

June 16 1983 a violent thunderstorm moved through a very narrow area dumping over 3 and a half inches of rain. Lightning struck a barn at the Everhart farm on Connecticut Hill Rd. completely destroying the structure. The rain was so heavy that it had almost extinguished what remained of the barn. Response was hampered by the near zero visibility due to the rain.
  
August 1983 construction of a pond behind the Fire House was approved. Robert "Bob" Holley will do the work.

September 1983 the Hose Team tied the Odessa Hose Team for overall points championship for 1983.

A $49,000.00 budget was proposed, the Town Board felt this to be too high and asked that it be reduced.

October 1983 the Fire Company reduced its budget request to $41,000.00. The Town Board still felt this was high and asked for a further reduction.

November 1983 the Fire Company pleaded with the Town Board to approve the $41,000.00 request as this was what the Fire Company felt it needed to keep the operation running. After some heated discussions the Town Board adopted a budget figure of $36,400.00. The Fire Company refused to sign the 1984 contact for that amount. The news media went wild with headlines "Enfield without fire protection for 1984" even the television stations in Syracuse began covering the story.

December 1983 the budget was still at an impasse, with neither side willing to budge. State and County officials along with lawyers from both sides were called in to try and settle the impasse while Chief Denny Hubbell and President Dominic Seamon prepared for the worst.

In the final days of December after numerous meetings the Town Board and Fire Company came to an agreement, $36,400.00 for 1984 with the remaining $5,000.00 to be paid in 1985 and 1986.

April of 1984 the Town Board started proceedings to go to a Fire District in light of the problems that arose with negotiations for the 1984 fire protection contract.

July of 1984 a used 1974 bus was purchased from Cornell University for parade use. The money to purchase the bus came from fundraising events.

September of 1984 the Hose Team clinched the Central New York Hose Team Captains Association title for the third straight year and was presented the four foot trophy for permanent possession.

January of 1985 the fire protection contract was for $54,700.00.

February of 1985 the 1975 Ford tanker was sold to the Wayne Fire Department in Wayne, N.Y. for $30,000.00. That was $900.00 more than was paid for it.

April 1985 the first diesel powered fire apparatus in Enfield was purchased. A 1985 Ford F-8000 tanker to be built by Saulsbury Fire Apparatus of Tully, N.Y. for $73,000.00

August 1985 plans were approved to hook up a fire hydrant to the pond. The work to be done by Carpenter's Excavators of Enfield.

It was approved to build a 30' x 40' storage building for $7,350.00. Agway Buildings to do the work with the funds coming from the fundraising activities.

November of 1985 the refurbished 1967 American LaFrance Pumper was put into service. The truck was purchased used from the Saulsbury Fire Apparatus for $13,000.00 and totally refurbished by the membership. The truck replaced the 1948 Chevrolet Pumper and was the only truck at the time that was found to fit into the eight foot high doors.

January of 1986 the fire protection contract was for $63,725.00.

February 10 1986 a fire in the attic at 196 S. Applegate Rd. is labeled as suspicious. The address has seen many fires over the years.

June 1986 the first computer was purchased to keep track of the Fire Company records by the Board of Directors. It was an IBM and purchased on State contract.

August 1986 after 30 years of stag banquets, it was decided to allow wives and girlfriends to attend. It was also decided to combine the banquet with the Christmas party.

September 15 1986 a major fire at Willowood Campsites totally destroys the recreation hall. The entire building was totally engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. The cause was listed as a faulty fireplace chimney.

October 1986 it was recommended to the Town Board, by the Fire Company Board of Directors, that they drop the Fire District plan as no action had been taken in over a year.

October 1986 an Explorer Post was started for young teenagers wanting to get involved with the fire service.

January 6 1987 a spectacular daytime fire sent clouds of billowing black smoke that could be seen for miles as a home owned by Lester Saunders on Rockwell Rd. burned to the ground. The entire structure flashed over shortly after the first fire apparatus arrived sending flames shooting out of every window. The cause was determined to be a faulty chimney.

February 10 1987 exactly one year to the day fire totally guts the upstairs of a home at 196 S. Applegate Rd. The cause was undetermined and listed as suspicious.
 
May 1987 the Fire Company Board of Directors asked the Town Board for a decision on funding for a new Fire Station.

June 1987, lacking a decision on funding for a new Fire Station by the Town Board, it was decided by the membership to try to secure funds on the Company's own merit.

June 1987 fourteen-year-old Kristina Markowski was killed while walking with friends on Route 79 after leaving the Enfield Firemens Field Days late at night. Alleged drunk driver Richard Barber of Danby struck her and two friends, Dierdre Stevenson and Yvonne Howell. He supposedly had been drinking at the beer tent on the carnival grounds.
    
July of 1987 discussions were held concerning discontinuing the sale of beer at the carnival or to discontinue the carnival altogether.

The first hydraulic powered extrication tools were purchased.


August of 1987 the Fire Company was sued for its possible involvement with the fatal accident in June during the carnival. A settlement was later reached out of court.

November of 1987 funds for a new Fire Station were included in the 1988 budget. The estimated cost $325,000.00.  The firemen will donate money from their fundraising account plus provide labor to finish the interior of the building reducing the cost by $100,000.00 leaving a balance of  $225,000.00 to be financed.

November 8 1987 a barn fire of Halseyville Rd owned by Harold Laue kept firefighters busy for 7 hours. The barn was fully involved before the first apparatus arrived. The first decision was to let the fire burn seeing there was nothing left, however someone notified the Sheriffs Department that at times drifters were know to sleep in the barn. The fire had to be extinguished to look for possible remains, which involved handling hundreds of bales of hay. No remains were found.

December of 1987 a contract was signed with Morton Buildings Inc. of Homer, N.Y. to construct the new Fire Station.

December of 1987 a vote was taken as to whether to continue the carnival and beer concession. The results were 21 yes and 8 no.

January 1988 the contract for fire protection was $74,000.00

February of 1988 an ambulance was purchased from the Trumansburg Fire Department to be used as a rescue vehicle at a cost of $7,000.00

March 19 1988 an early morning barn fire on S. Buck Hill Rd owned by Earl Miller lit up the night sky. The fire could be seen from three counties.

June of 1988 the Fire Company moved into the new Fire Station although there was inside work still to be done.

September of 1988 the old Fire House was turned over to the Town to be used for a community building.

January of 1989 the fire protection contract with the Town was for $97,131.00

March of 1989 a well was drilled at the carnival grounds to aid in Health Department regulations.

April of 1989 Chief Dennis Hubbell received the Tompkins County Firemen of the Year award for his dedication to the fire service.

May of 1989 1200 feet of 5 inch large diameter supply hose was purchased the first hose of this size in Enfield.

September of 1989 a contract was signed for 2 1990 Ford/FMC pumpers to be purchased from FMC Corporation of Florida at the cost $110,000.00 each.

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