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 of 1990 the fire protection contract with the Town was $129,330.00

March 19 1990 an early morning house fire completely destroyed the Jack Rumsey residence at 170 Harvey Hill Rd. A faulty chimney pipe was listed as the cause.

June of 1990 the new FMC pumpers were delivered just in time to put in the Enfield Firemen’s Carnival parade

July of 1990 discussions of the many problems associated with the carnival were held. Insurance liability, lack of help, cost of security and the very small profit margin were a few of the issues raised. The matter was tabled until the September general meeting.

September of 1990 it was voted to discontinue having the carnival.

November 16 1990 a late afternoon fire leveled a home at 467 Trumbulls Corners Rd. owned by George Brooks. Due to the home being located a distance off the roadway the fire went unnoticed for quite some time.

January of 1991 the fire protection contract with the Town was now up to $155,040.00 due in part to the lack of revenue from the carnival.

April of 1991 different types of fund-raisers were considered to replace the carnival. A car show was thought to be a good possibility.

May of 1991 the Fire Company becomes more health cautious and banned smoking during any general meeting.

August of 1991 the first annual "Cruise to the Country" car show was held.

December of 1991 Dominic Seamon decided not to run for re-election for President after 17 years in that position, the longest in Company history.

January of 1992 the fire protection contract was cut by $15,000.00 to $140,040.00. The Ladies Auxiliary purchased a cellular telephone for the firemen to carry in one of the trucks.

April of 1992 the 1978 Chevrolet Mini-Pumper was sold to the McGraw Fire Department for $12,500.00.

The Fire Company donates $1,000.00 from its fundraising account to the Counties new computer aided dispatch system.

May of 1992 a used 1978 Ford/Saulsbury heavy rescue vehicle was purchased from the LakeShore Fire Department in Rochester N.Y. The truck to be totally refurbished by Saulsbury Fire Apparatus.

June of 1992 the first Air Bag Rescue System was purchased.


September of 1992 the pond dike began leaking due to the muskrat population. The pond dike was totally rebuilt by Austic Excavation of Trumansburg N.Y. The Town's Highway Department transported many loads of the necessary material to the pond site from Interlaken, N.Y.

 

December of 1992 Dennis Hubbell stepped down as Fire Chief after 13 consecutive years, the longest period anyone has held that position.

January of 1993 the fire protection contract was $142,540.00

The Enfield Community Council donated $2,000.00 towards the repair of the pond dike, which they use in the summer for their swim program.

Approval was giving to purchase 11 new self-contained breathing apparatus units primarily due to the high exposure by firefighters to hazardous materials.

March of 1993 the first OSHA mandated physicals were given to all members,

A second set of hydraulic extrication tools were purchased.

April of 1993 three radios with the Town Highway frequency were purchased to put in to help communication with both parties.

Larry Stilwell was appointed the first Safety Officer.

The 1978 Ford/Saulsbury heavy rescue truck was dedicated in memory of longtime fire-fighter and past Chief Jake Smithers who passed away in 1992 after a long battle with cancer.

August of 1993 "Bungee" jumping was the main attraction at the 3rd annual car show.

A second computer was purchased to handle the over flow of paperwork.

October of 1993 a discussion on having another carnival was unanimously voted down.

January of 1994 the fire protection contract was $144,809.00

January 7 1994 a fire at 344 Hines Rd completely guts a vacant residence the fire is labeled as suspicious. Three days later a fire levels a rental trailer at the same location the cause is undetermined but not believed to be suspicious. On May 23 1995 the only remaining rental trailer at this location is destroyed by fire, the cause is listed as a child playing with matches.

March 1994 purchased used 4 wheel drive Kubota tractor and mower from Locke Enterprises

March 1994 purchased 15 PASS alarms for interior firefighters.

April 1994 installed 10-inch dump valve on Town of Enfield Highway Department's water truck to be used as back up water hauler if needed.

May 1994 purchased first fax machine.

June 1994 purchased used 1990 Chevrolet Suburban for $14,900.00 to be converted into a quick response light Rescue vehicle.

July 1994 signed a contract with the State Department of Transportation's Adopt-a-Highway program to clean the roadside of Route 327 four times a year from Route 79 to Trumbulls Corners Rd.

October 1994 donated $400.00 to the Enfield School Christmas fund for low-income families.

December 1994 Tompkins County approves to implement an Enhanced 911 system.

Sold the old 1978 Chevrolet Rescue to the Pittsford Vol.Fire Co. of Pittsford, Pennsylvania for $4000.00

December 1994 first Annual Banquet dinner was held at the new Fire Station.

Fire Protection contract for 1995 was $149,153.00

February 1995 approved the purchase of a new 1996 Freightliner 3000 gallon tanker. Saulsbury Fire Apparatus of Tully, N.Y., will construct the truck at a cost of $186,000.00.

March 1995 sold 1983 Ford/Saulsbury Tanker to the Speedsville Fire Department for $30,000.00

June 1995 approved to build an addition on the Fire Station. This space to include a washbay for the apparatus, decontamination facilities, shower area, physical fitness area and storage space. The cost to erect the shell $27,480.00 which will be done by Morton Buildings of Homer, N.Y.The inside will be finished by the membership, as money becomes available.

September 1995 the Town of Enfield Highway Dept. will assist in sealing the blacktop in front of the Fire Station. Cost of the materials $600.00.

By a very narrow margin Town Supervisor Jean Owens is beat out by newcomer William Mather.
This was sure to be a big problem for the Fire Company as Mr. Mather was pretty much anti Fire Company.

November 25 1995 a huge fireball which could be seen for miles totally levels a home owned by Donald Gunning at 68 Weatherby Rd. Even though there was nothing left of the home the cause was believed to be a faulty chimney pipe connection. This was the second major fire at this location the first destroyed the barn in 1971.

Fire Protection contract for 1996 was` $155,744.00

January 1996 Town Supervisor questions "credibility" of the Fire Company in regards to all financial issues.

February 1996 Town Board members approve to assist the Fire Company in obtaining a low interest loan for the new tanker thru the State. The Supervisor feels that the loan application is not correct and that the Fire Company is trying to obtain additional funds that are not needed at the taxpayers expense. Even after a second request by the Town Board to submit the loan application, Supervisor holds the application till after the deadline date. This cost the taxpayer thousands of dollars in interest.

February 1996 the Supervisor is suspected of planning a "hostile" takeover of the Fire Company and the building, however his plan fails as Fire Company officials quickly draw the battlelines.

September 1996 wiring was completed to accommodate auxiliary power for the Fire Station in case of a power outage.

September 1996 the Supervisor new budget process has Fire Company suspicious as to his intentions. Three budget proposals are requested, one showing budget cuts, level spending and "pie in the sky". October 1996 the Supervisor uses "pie in the sky" budget as Fire Company's requested budget for 1997. This sends taxpayers into an uproar. The Supervisor claims Fire Company is trying to take advantage of the taxpayers in Enfield.

October 31 1996 explosions could be heard all over town as an early morning fire destroyed a house at 263 Black Oak Road. Large quantities of fireworks were found to be stored at the residence.

November 1996 concrete was poured in the washbay portion of the new addition. Grade work was done by the membership while Dave Poyer of Mecklenburg did the pouring and finishes work.

December 1996 despite many problems with the Town Supervisor the Fire Contract was signed with no increases.

December 1996 approval was giving to purchase $1000.00 worth of exercise equipment to help the fire department physical fitness program.

Fire Protection contract was $155,744.00

June 1997 The membership agreed to once again hold a Carnival. The dates were the same as the past the only exception was the addition of another day making it a four-day event. It was also decided not to have alcoholic beverages.
 
October 21,1997 a fire at 110 N. VanDorn Rd. which started out as a vehicle fire, quickly spread to a combination hay storage and maintenance shop. The building sustained heavy structural damage.

September 1997 it was decided to disband the Explorer post and start a Junior Firefighters program. This would give the Fire Company more control over the group.

 

November 1997 The first known blood drive was held at the Fire Station

Fire Protection contract was $161,761.00

The Fire Company gears up to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

February 4 1998 Fire Captain Greg Kirchgessner was struck and killed by a hit and run driver on route 79 while riding his bicycle to work. Fellow firefighters tried in vain to save their brother firefighter’s life. Greg had just completed his 20th year as an Enfield Fire-fighter, unfortunately he never got to receive his 20-year service award.

May 1998 an open house was held to celebrate 50 years of service. The service included the rededication of the Harry Willis memorial plaque placed in the new memorial garden located on the hill behind the Fire Station. It also saw the dedication of the light rescue vehicle in memory of deceased member Greg Kirchgessner.
 
June 1998 fundraising efforts were once again attempted by holding a Carnival. Even though weather was good, attendance was way down. Later in the year it was decided to discontinue the Carnival as a fundraiser.

August 4,1998 the Fire Company lost another active member, Fire-fighter George
Palmer died unexpectedly of a heart attack.

December 1998 a very emotional annual banquet was held to close the 50th anniversary year and to put behind us a very tragic year. Marnie, Gretchen and Amanda Kirchgessner, family of deceased member Greg, were present to accept his 20-year life membership plaque.

December 1998 a liquid nitrogen tank located at Genex Corporation ruptured while being filled trapping the truck driver in a pool of the freezing liquid.

December 26,1998 fire destroyed the home of Enfield Firefighter’s Art and Sue Howser at 17 South VanDorn Rd. The cause was determined to be electrical in nature.

Fire Protection contract was $166,000.00

January 1,1999 the first structure fire of the year occurred on Teeter Rd. Fire was contained to one room and the roof area.

January 29,1999 House fire 255 Iradell Rd.

March 14,1999 Fire was contained to one room of a reported mobile home fire

April 6,1999 units were dispatched to a fully involved house fire at the Traver residence at 300 Iradell Rd. around 11 AM. High winds hampered any efforts to extinguish the blaze. The home was nearly burned to the ground by the time Fire units arrived. There was no one home at the time and the fire burned out of control until being noticed by a Sheriff’s department patrol car 2 miles away. Just as Fire units were returning a call was received for a garage fire at the intersection of Mecklenburg and VanDorn Rd. Responding units found a garage and part of a mobile home on fire.

April 14,1999 A report of a unknown type structure fire at 386 Enfield Main Rd. destroys one vacant mobile home and damages another. The mobile homes were being used for storage.

November 1999 it was decided to discontinue the Car Show. The uncertainty of the ownership of the property at Route 79 and 327 was a determining factor in the decision.

November 1999 The membership approved to enter into a 2-year contract with Municipal Marketing to solicit funds by mail. The money would be used to purchase a Thermal Imaging Camera.

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