Highland Falls Fire Department

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2019 Incidents
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HFFD Celebrates 100 Years (1922-2022)
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By President Lynn Heuler
February 7, 2022

History of the Highland Falls Fire Department

In September 1922 five fire companies were consolidated, and the result was the Highland Falls Fire Department.

Prior to 1922 fire protection was provided by five fire companies located throughout the village each having their own officers and equipment. These companies were, North End Hose, Prospect Hill Hose, Goodsell Hook & Ladder and Bald Rock Hook & Ladder.

The newly formed company inherited from the five disbanded companies one piece of apparatus, a 1916 Model T chassis equipped with a 300 gallon tank and a Hale pump, some hose and two ladders. This apparatus was purchased by the residents of the Village through a united community subscription drive and without the benefit of Village funds. The central alarm system was sounded by the ringing of a huge bell mounted above the Town Hall. The alarm was relayed by the use of salvaged locomotive wheels suspended from wooden frames. Chained the each frame was a six pound sledge hammer for striking the wheel, causing the alarm to be heard throughout the Village. The relay alarms were located at Roe Park, West St and Lake St. Without benefit of modern communication systems a fireman responding late had difficulty locating and getting to the scene of the fire before the action was over.

Demands of a growing Village quickly exceeded the capacities of the apparatus, and the need for additional equipment was apparent.

In 1925, the Village Board purchased a new 750 gallon American La-France Engine, fully equipped. This apparatus was declared one of the most modern pieces of fire fighting equipment in the Hudson Valley by area newspapers.

In 1926, the members of the Highland Falls Fire Department ordered and paid for the first fire alarm and presented it to the Village. It was put on the roof of the Town Hall through the next 30 years.

In 1930, a used Garford Hook & Ladder was purchased from the City of New York. With this purchase, the 1925 La-France and the Model T the needs of the Village could be served.

The Model T expired in 1934 and was replaced with a used (non-Firematic type) GMC Truck from the U.S. Government. The equipment from the Model T was mounted on the GMC.

In 1938, the Village Board approved the purchase of a new ladder truck. The new truck was an American La-France Quad costing eight thousand dollars. This truck served us well though 1970. The Garfod Hook & Ladder was used as a trade in and GMC was disposed of.

In 1939, the Highland Falls Fire Department incorporated and purchased property to build a fire house. In 1951 the new fire house became a reality and it was owned and operated by its members. Though hard work at various fund raisers like pancake breakfasts and Bingo the members paid for the building.

In 1943, though a Civil Defense application, the Highland Falls Fire Department was issued a trailer type pumper by the government. This was to aid in fighting fires in case of air raids. Although this unit never was used for the intended propose it served well pumping out flooded areas. The centrifugal pumping system was so well constructed, making the apparatus so powerful that with out proper anchoring it would continue to move about while operating. So came the nickname “Gandy Dancer”. The “Dancer” found a new home with the Fort Montgomery Fire Department in 1965.

In 1946, the twenty one year old La-France engine was in need of extensive repairs. Efforts made through the War Assets Administration enabled the Highland Falls Fire Department to obtain a 1943 Chevrolet 500 gpm engine, fully equipped for the very reasonable sum of one dollar.

In 1949, the 1943 Chevrolet Engine was replaced by a new 1959 La-France Engine fully equipped including a 750 gpm pump and a two way radio.

In 1956, a steel tower was erected in the rear of the Town Hall to replace the siren on the roof of the Town Hall.

The year 1970 brought a new Diamond Reo Truck with a 65’ aerial and a 750 GPM pump. This replaced the 1938 La-France Quad Truck. In Mach of 1972 the siren in the rear of the Town Hall was relocated to its current location on a 4o foot pole in Ladycliff Park.. Also in 1972 thru a donation from the Eristoff family the department received a base station and a home alert system.

In 1979, a GMC Emergency Truck was purchased and out fitted with all the necessary rescue equipment to include a Hurst Jaws of Life unit that was purchased by the Ladies Auxiliary and given to the department as a Christmas Gift.

In 1981, we purchased a new Mack Engine with a 1250 GPM pump and a 500 gallon tank. The Mack replaced the 1959 La-France Engine.

In 1995, we replaced the Diamond Reo Ladder Tuck with a new 1995 Salisbury Engine with a ten man cab, 1500 GPM pump and 750 gallon tank. This was followed in 2001 by the purchase of a KME six man cab Engine with a center mounted pump panel. The KME replaced the 1981 Mack.

In 1998, the GMC Emergency Truck was replaced by a new Rescue by Rescue One. This equipment had seating for six and holds lots of equipment. In 2005, thru a federal grant we added a 12’ Emergency Decon Trailer. This holds a large three lane inflatable haz-mat shower complete with hot water and heat.

During the years the Highland Falls Fire Department has been faced with many challenges, and many rewarding experiences. We hope to continue and overcome challenges in the future, and to continue to provide fire protection to the Highland Falls Community.

Hyperlinks: Transition of the HF Firehouse
 

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