Our History

The Garrison Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. was founded on October 9, 1929 when the first Board of Directors signed the Certificate of Incorporation. The signers of the certificate were William C. Osborn, Samuel Sloan, Horatio S Rubens, Col. Taylor Belcher, C.C. Chorley, John Donohoe and Arthur Walsh. The organization had 25 charter members. The fire company was organized and initially funded with the assistance of an organization called the Highlands Public Society (Org. 12/18/1905). The objectives of the Society, as stated in the Certificate of Incorporation, were the moral and mental improvement of men, women and children, by providing public libraries, recreation grounds, works of public utility and other facilities for right living, in the Town of Philipstown. The Society paid for the purchase of the first Garrison Fire Truck and its equipment in 1929. Our first vehicle was a 1929 Sanford Engine, equipped with a mid-ship rotary gear pump rated at 350 gallons per minute, a 200 gallon booster tank and booster hose reel. The total cost was $6,000. Over the years the Fire Company continued to receive financial assistance for operations from the members of the Highlands Public Society as well as fund-raising events run by Fire Company members.

The great number of brush fires, which occurred in the area and the rural character of the community stressed the need of securing a rugged piece of equipment that could be driven deep into the woods. The company purchased a 1944 Army Surplus pumper equipped with a front mounted pump. This vehicle was not pretty, but functional and served as our first brush truck. It was equipped with a front mounted centrifugal pump rated at 300 gallons per minute, a 250 gallon water tank and booster hose reel. The total cost was $4,000.

Our first rescue truck was purchased for responding to calls for assistance. It was equipped with a resuscitator for breathing emergencies, two Scott Air-Pack breathing apparatus, a generator, portable lights, extinguishers and various other rescue tools and equipment. The cost was $2,200.

The Fire Company determined that it was time to retire the Sanford fire truck. After a successful fund raising drive by company members a modern engine was purchased. It was an international-Harvester chassis with a Howe 500 gallon per minute mid-ship centrifugal pump. The apparatus had a 50 gallon booster tank and two booster hose reels. The cost, without hose and nozzles, was $13,000. It was the feeling of the company members that this showed a solid community interest and backing. The only other funding for the operation of the Fire Company came from individual “subscriptions” for fire service from property owners.

In anticipation of the formation of a Fire Protection District, the Fire Company again put on a fund raising drive in order to purchase a second modern pumper that would satisfy the requirements of the Fire Underwriters (now called ISO). Once again, it was decided to obtain another International-Harvester chassis with a 750 gallon per minute Howe mid-ship centrifugal pump. The apparatus had a 750 gallon booster tank and two booster hose reels. The total cost of this purchase without equipment was $17,500. After the formation of the Garrison Fire Protection District the Garrison Fire Company received a minimal budget for operational costs as a result of a property tax. After this tax began, outside donations and funding began to diminish rapidly.

Late 1960s
The Sanford, which had won the hearts of all the firemen, but particularly the “old timers”, was purchased by Col. Belcher and Jim Bosco. These two members presented the Sanford to the Fire Company to be cleaned and maintained in a workable condition for use as a parade pumper.

A 4-wheel drive International pumper was added to the fleet of equipment. This vehicle was the first vehicle the Fire Company owned that was equipped with a “Class A” 1000 gallon per minute pump and had the ability to drive into some of the tougher terrain of the district. Its cost was $38,000 and was paid for out of a truck savings fund established for future equipment purchases.

A 4-wheel drive 3/4 ton rescue truck was purchased for $8,000.

A 16’ Duralite boat with a 50 HP motor and trailer was purchased for rescue operations on the Hudson River. Its cost was $4,000. The day after it was placed in-service it was used to rescue four people from the river. Over the ensuing years the department has maintained a rescue boat on the river and responded to numerous calls for assistance on the river.

The Company added a 1953 Dodge 4×4 Army surplus vehicle for use as a second brush truck.

One of the major problems with a rural area such as Garrison is the lack of a municipal water supply for firefighting. In 1982 the department purchased a pumper/tanker type vehicle. It carried 1650 gallons of water and a portable pool for other engines to pump from. Unfortunately, this vehicle did not last as long as we had hoped. Mechanically and structurally the vehicle became more of a liability for the department than anything else. It became necessary to replace this vehicle with a new tanker in 1996.

Jim Erickson with the department vehicles in 1987.

Jim Erickson with the department vehicles in 1987.

The Company purchased a 1986 GMC/Saulsbury heavy rescue truck. The truck with no equipment cost over $190,000. It was used until a new rescue was purchased in 2003.

The Company purchases two Pierce Custom engines for a cost of $468,000. These vehicles replaced the two engines purchased in 1958 & 1964. The purchase of these vehicles was arranged through a lease/purchase agreement with Pierce Manufacturing. They were put into service as 15-2-1 and 15-2-2. The same year, Station 2 was erected on Route 9. The land was obtained through a donation from Greymoor. The building consisted of the apparatus bays, a small wooden kitchen/lounge and a radio room.

The Company purchased the first Chief’s vehicle. A used 1980s Ford Bronco was bought and outfitted to be a command vehicle.

A used 1993 Freightliner tractor was purchased and modified by Fouts Brother’s Fire Equipment to serve as a 3600-gallon water tanker for the department. Its cost was close to $200,000. The company also purchased a 1996 Ford Expedition to replace the original Chief’s vehicle.

In 1999 the department took delivery of a new jet powered rescue boat. This vessel is equipped with a 750 gallon per minute pump and is equipped to transport two injured patients. The cost of this vessel was $60,000 and was paid for out of the truck savings fund.

At station 2, the structure that held the radio room and lounge was torn down and a large wing was erected in its place. The new wing consists of a modern radio room, a lounge, a gym, attic space which can be converted to a meeting area, a large and small meeting room as well as offices for the President and Chief. The north wall of the apparatus bays was designed so that the wall can be removed and the building can be easily expanded north (if need be) without having to do major structural support modifications. This wing was constructed with the intention of its use to be for the fire department as well as the community. The new wing is regularly used for non firematic purposes like yoga, voting and Boy Scounts meetings. Click here to view pictures of the construction of the new section of the building.

The Company takes delivery of a new rescue truck. It was built by Marion with a Spartan cab and chassis with an 18 foot, non walk in Marion rescue body. The cab will hold 8 firefighters, as well as all of the equipment we might need at an accident or other emergency. It replaces the 1988 GMC. The total cost for the vehicle was $330,000.

A new pumper is purchased from Marion. It has a Spartan Gladiator chassis with a Cumming 450 HP engine. It features a 1,500 gallon per minute midship mounted fire pump with 10 discharges, Foampro 1600 foam system, 1,000 gallon water tank and storage for 100 feet of fire hose.