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fluvanna parade

history of fluvanna fire department

During the summer of 1925, there was a fire in Elmhurst, and a number of cottages were burned. This could have been avoided if there had been a nearby fire department, as the closest departments were Jamestown, Celoron, or Bemus Point.

A few residents of the Fluvanna area, with the assistance of DeForest Peterson, contacted Douglas Krupp, Clayton Bratt, and Ed Bollman, all members of the Celoron Fire Department, to gather information.

A decision was made to form a fire department for Fluvanna. The residents and vicinity met at the schoolhouse on October 15, 1925, and organized the "FLUVANNA FIRE DEPARTMENT." Fred B. Strunk was elected President, Charles G. Sondell as Foreman, Glenn D. Clark as First Assistant Foreman, and Walter G. Johnson as Second Assistant Foreman.

There were around 50 active charter members and 15 social members. A membership fee of $2.00 and yearly dues of $3.00 were charged, and a campaign was initiated to raise $6,000.00 for the purchase of fire fighting apparatus. Approximately $5,000.00 was pledged as a result of the campaign.

On December 3rd, the department applied for membership in the "Chautauqua County Firemen's Association." On December 10th, the Fire Department purchased a "Peter Pirsch" triple combination pumper chemical and hose truck for $5,000.00. A few days later, an order for 1,000 feet of fire hose was placed at a cost of $1,350.00.

fluvanna historical photo
original members of Fluvanna FD

On March 4th, the Department bought a "Federal Doublehead 25 cycle Single Phase Siren Alarm" for about $350.00.

The Department held dances every two weeks in the school hall, with the profits being used to furnish the truck and fire house.

On March 4th, the firemen voted to purchase the garage on the corner of the Townline and State Road from Walter C. Johnson and William Gane for the sum of $8,800.00, to be used as a fire house and dance hall.

The Fluvanna Fire Department, serving the towns of Ellicott and Ellery, was incorporated under the laws of New York State in May 1926. The directors were F.B. Strunk, John Wheelhouse, Leonard Carlson, James Brown, Edwin Suckow, Charles A. Sondell, Gust H. Carlson, Ray R. Phillips, Glenn D. Clark, Walter C. Johnson, Charles H. Strunk, Clarence Nelson, M.L. Shaver, Axel G. Ohlquist, Edward E. Carlson, Arthur Ackroyd, Harry Anderson, Walter Simmons, and Harry Hooper.

After remodeling the building for a dance hall and a place to keep the fire truck, dances were held to raise money for the upkeep, expenses, and mortgage payments. The members also organized fish frys, dinners, and a carnival combined with an ox-roast to raise money.

fluvanna historical photos-1_page-0001.jpg

One of the worst tragedies in our district occurred during the Richfield fire at the city line of Jamestown on June 17th, 1934. The Jamestown Fire Department was called in and suffered significant losses, with four of their firemen and three spectators killed, and eight Jamestown firemen and fifteen spectators burned. Chief Charles Sondell had just moved his men back, which helped avoid further injuries.





















Later that same year, on December 7th, 1934, a fire struck the Fluvanna Fire Hall. An overheated furnace caused a serious fire, but the firemen were able to pull the fire truck out of the burning building and used it to fight the fire. This incident was a setback for the fire department, but with the determination of the firemen, the building was rebuilt, and a dining room and kitchen were added, along with an improved truck room. The next few years were a real struggle.

All members worked hard, donating their time and talents, and various projects were undertaken to raise money. The most successful ventures were dances, dinners, and fish frys. People from Warren, Dunkirk, and other surrounding areas regularly attended the Fluvanna Dances.

Another project was the annual "Turkey Raffles" held just before Thanksgiving, which raised an average of $750.00 to $1,000.00 each year. This was a significant amount of money in those days. For comparison, the heat budget for one year was $500.00, and the heat bill for the month of January 1976 was $380.00.

The department and auxiliary participated in many parades and won numerous prizes for their performances. In 1940, they won a Trophy for the best appearing combined Auxiliary and Company at the New York State Convention held in Dunkirk, New York. Alfred Johnson served as the drillmaster, and Margaret Ackroyd was in charge of the auxiliary.

In 1941, the department purchased a new Federal pumper, which was delivered late that year. However, obtaining all the necessary equipment was delayed due to the declaration of World War II.

During the war, dances and other activities were banned, limiting the department's source of income. As a result, a First Aid Unit was formed.

In August 1944, another tragedy occurred in the area when two traction cars on the J-W Railway collided head-on. The motorman on one of the cars was killed, and our First Aid Squad provided assistance to the injured.

Fire struck again on May 31, 1946, when lightning struck the fire hall, including the fire siren. Immediate action prevented the fire from spreading further, but the building required repairs.

In 1949, there was a fire on Girts Road that started in the basement. Unfortunately, the water in the pumper ran out, leaving nothing to fight the fire, and the house burned down. This incident prompted the decision to purchase a tank truck. In October of that year, a 1,000-gallon truck was added to the fire department.

In 1953, the dance hall and dining room were rented to the school district for use as classrooms. A three-stall truck room was added to the building in 1957, creating space for a new fire truck.

Station No. 2 was established at the Airport in 1958, extending Fluvanna's district to include the section on the east side of North Main Street. An emergency bus was also added to the department.

In 1959, bingo was started at the hall, proving to be a successful fundraising initiative for the department and the community. Equipment upgrades and remodeling of the dance hall were carried out in subsequent years to accommodate bingo.

During his tenure with the Fluvanna Fire Department, Dr. Frank Tyler served as President of the Southwestern Association and was a director of the Home on the Hudson. He also has the honor of having a room in the hospital named after him. Allan Putnam also served as President of the Southwestern Association.

In 1969, another addition was constructed as a truck room to make space for additional equipment. By 1975, the department had three pumpers, one grass fire truck, one foam truck, and an emergency unit. They also housed the county's heavy rescue unit, and the original 1926 Peter Pirch fire truck was still in service.

Station No. 2 underwent remodeling in 1975 to accommodate more equipment. Currently, the department has a pumper, a foam truck, and a truck belonging to the Airport Commission.

In 1975, the North Main Street School House was acquired and is being repaired for future rental to local organizations. It was later sold to the Disabled American Veterans.

The main hall underwent a complete renovation in 1984, including the installation of air conditioning at a later date. Bingo continued to be the primary fundraising activity, and in 1993, electronic bingo was introduced.

In 1994, two new underground water tanks with capacities of 10,000 gallons and 8,000 gallons were installed, ensuring a permanent water supply.

To better serve the community's needs, a new 3,000-gallon tanker truck was purchased in 2000. In 2001, a new ambulance was also acquired for the fire department.

The Fluvanna Fire Department, which started with 36 charter members in 1926, had Edwin Hooper as the sole surviving member of the original fire company in 2001. He currently resides in Florida.

richfield fire
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