Fire Department History

Fire Department History

History of Montgomery Hose, Hook and Ladder Co

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On May 7, 1889 the Village Board of Rouses Point received a petition from concerned citizens to form a hose company. At this time 18 men were appointed members of the company. The records of this hose company state that on April 25th 1890 the company was actually formed and approved by the Village.

As fires grew in number and size the Village was petitioned to form a hook and ladder company and on January 17, 1894 such a resolution was passed by the Village Board.

As years passed bad feelings grew between the two companies and as a result on January 5th 1904 the Village was petitioned to disband the present companies and form the Montgomery Hose, Hook and Ladder Co. This ended the constant disputes between the companies.

In these early years there were numerous fires on a regular basis. In 1908 the Village suffered an earthquake and in 1934 a cyclone occurred with reports of "trees as large as four or five feet in diameter and eighty feet tall uprooted and strewn all over the Village".

In 1927 the Fire Department became motorized with the purchase of a Dodge hose wagon. This engine served the Village well into the 1950s. It is remembered that the motor was so loud that no siren was necessary.

On September 2, 1952 the Department formed its first rescue squad. This ambulance service and rescue squad was the first fire company sponsored rescue squad in Clinton County. An ambulance was purchased by the company and donated to the Village. It should be noted that all the ambulances purchased were purchased by the company and donated to the Village up until the 1990's. The money was raised from donations and from the various community activities such as the July 4th celebration.

On January 27th 1958, the ladies auxiliary was formed. Eighteen wives of firefighter's decided that waiting and worrying was too much to bear, and thought that they could "relieve the strain on their men" by being actively supporting them when serious fires took the men from their families for so many hours. They continue to support the firemen up to the present day. They certainly deserve the appreciation of the Fire Department and all the mutual aid companies that have benefited from their efforts over the years.

In 1963 the pager system was introduced to the Department. Each firefighter could now be paged directly twenty-four hours a day allowing for a quicker response.

A fireman and Village employee, James Lefebvre, made his community proud on February 1, 1967 when his fire pager summoned him for a 14 month old child choking. He was repairing a village snowplow at the time and when alerted, ran across the street to the Harold Ashline home on Lake Street. There he found the lifeless baby who was turning blue. He was successful in dislodging a marsh-mellow candy and breathing life back into the child. Mr. Lefebvre was later recognized for his heroic actions on February 8th by then Mayor Leo Letourneau at a Village Board meeting. It should be noted that back in 1952 Leo Letourneau was one of the individuals responsible for the formation of the rescue squad.

In March of 1967 a new custom American LaFrance pumper was purchased by the Village and serves the Village to this day.

In the late 1960's there was a concern that the larger and heavier fire apparatus were outgrowing the fire station. The old station would creak and moan as the trucks were backed in as the station had wood floors. A new fire station was completed and dedicated on January 18, 1969.

In the 1980's Wyeth-Ayerst Pharmaceuticals donated a chemical truck to the department.

Also, during this period the Department organized and trained a Cold Water Rescue Unit and a hovercraft was obtained enabling the Department to respond to emergencies on water and ice.

In 1998 the Northeast suffered though the great Ice Storm. At this time all the experience and resources of the department were put to the test. Many of the firefighters did not sleep for two days answering the call for help from the community. Then Chief, Robert Ethier, probably received less sleep then anyone in the department as he directed emergency men and equipment.

In 1998 a new ambulance arrived. This unit had state of the art equipment to provide our community with the best possible medical assistance. This was the first time donations could not provide the necessary funding to support the purchase of the ambulance, but donations do support the upgrading of supplies and equipment. In2001 we responded to 401 incidents.

In May of 2000 Montgomery Hose Hook and Ladder realized the need to replace our 50 year old ladder truck. A committee selected a used American LaFrance 85 ft aerial ladder and this truck was purchased with company funds and presented to the village. Olen Harvey and Sons Trucking transported the truck from Pennsylvania at no charge to the company. We are very appreciative to them for their generous help in the acquisition of this apparatus. The lettering on the truck was donated by Richard Deso of Vital Signs. Soon after the truck was put into service it played a major role at an industrial fire.

After the events in New York City a group of EMS units responded from Clinton County to Ground Zero. Our ambulance and crew spent two days helping in the recovery efforts at the World Trade Center. We were one of the very few fully staffed advanced life support units to be put into service that weekend in support of our fallen firefighters.

In February 2002 the Village completed the installation of a 125 kilowatt, 400 amp diesel generator at the firehouse to provide emergency power. This improves our ability to serve the community as an emergency shelter.

In January of 2004 Montgomery Hose Hook and Ladder company got a new 2000 gpm pumper. It was one of the first trucks with a CAFS system in the county.

In 2008 Montgomery Hose Hook and Ladder company got a brand new Ambulance.

We are proud of our long tradition of volunteer service and will continue the dedication of all those who have made us what we are today.

Compiled from company records and recollections of firemen. We wish to thank the Village Historian, Dawn O'Boyle, and James L. Munafo, who compiled a history of the company on our 100th anniversary.

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