Ashland Fire Department
& Ladies Auxiliary

 Copied from the Bicentennial Booklet One-Hundred Years of Fire Service History 1889-1989 by Sharon Palmateer


 
For many years, there had been no serious fires in Ashland; therefore, no thought had ever been given to the need for any equipment.
 
Then, sometime between 1893 and 1985, a large barn fire was discovered at the Ferris farm west of Ashland.  Of course, back then, before the days of sirens, the only method of spreading a fire alarm was by riding a horse through the town shouting "FIRE"!  Quickly, the bucket brigade was formed, but it was much too late to save the barn.
 
In 1919, another devastating fire destroyed the Methodist parsonage.  By this time, a real interest was aroused among the residents as to ways and means of obtaining some much needed fire equipment.
 
Finally, in 1926, Vernon Ferris called a public meeting to discuss ways of raising funds.  A large interested group met and a Community Club of thirty members was formed with Roy Cornell, President; Vernon Ferris, Vice President and Frank Munson, Secretary-Treasurer.
 
The first fund raising event netted sixty-four dollars from a clam chowder supper.  Oyster suppers were held for twenty-five cents.  Soon, it was realized that there should be a better way.
 
In 1926, the Town Board designated the entire town as the Town of Ashland Fire Department District.  On November 3, 1926, a proposition was passed by the voters to raise $8,000 by taxes for a fire engine with necessary apparatus to extinguish fires.
 
In 1927, the Ashland Fire Company was organized in two sections -- a Hose Co. and a Chemical Co.  The same year, an American LaFrance pumper and a hose pumper were purchased for $8,000 -- Ashland's first equipment.
 
In 1962, the Ashland Rescue Squad was formed, one of the first on the mountaintop.  Ashland's residents are most grateful for the untiring services rendered by the members of the Rescue Squad, Fire Department and the Ladies Auxiliary.
 
In the early 1970's, the fire department moved to its new quarters.
 
Deserved recognition was given the Ashland Fire Deparment for fifty years of dedicated service at an anniversary dinner in 1976.  Peter Rucka -- the only living charter member, since deceased, and Flora Tompkins -- honorary member of the Auxiliary, were special guests.  Elmer Young was the guest speaker.
 
Ashland's present equipment consists of a 500 gpm pumper, a 4-wheel drive brush truck, a 3,000 gallon tanker and the 1981 Ford Van Ambulance.
 
The Rescue Squad Ambulance and equipment were dedicated in memory of George Holdridge and Sheldon N. Peck.
 
Ashland is just a small town on the mountaintop, but we extend a big congratulations to the Greene County Volunteer Firemen's Association on its Centennial.

Ashland Ladies Auxiliary

The Ladies Auxiliary of the Ashland Volunteer Fire Company was organized on August 28, 1974.  Sixteen ladies were made charter members.  The first officers were:  Donna Tompkins, President; Cathy Euchler, Vice President; Carol Partridge, Secretary-Treasurer; and Joan Holdridge, Sgt at Arms.  Rose Benjamin and Genevieve Lockas from the Coxsackie Auxiliary swore the officers in that evening.
 
On September 11, 1974, Flora Tompkins was made honorary member.  The membership dues were set at $2.00 and have never been increased.  The auxiliary received $100.00 from the fire company to start their treasury.
 
Our first fund raiser was a bake sale for the WAJ Golden Agers, who held their monthly meetings in the Ashland Hall.  The firemen were holding dances once a month at this time, so they let us have raffles.  At the first dance, we raffled two turkeys.
 
Our first parade was at Windham on the 4th of July.  We had no uniforms.  Luckily, it was the 1976 Bicentennial parade so we wore old-fashioned dresses and won a trophy.  We have also attended parades in Prattsville for Memorial Day.
 
By February 12, 1975, our treasury was looking better so we started the process of getting uniforms.  A member made our skirts and we purchased white blouses, second-hand hats and new shoes.
 
In 1975, we sponsored a youth group on Saturdays between 2 and 4 p.m. at the fire house.  In September of that year, we held our first annual dinner with ten members attending.  We were happy that we made it through the first year.
 
On September 25, 1976, the auxiliary assisted the firemen with their Golden Anniversary by holding a covered dish dinner.  That evening, the auxiliary presented Flora Tompkins with a plaque as the oldest living auxiliary member.
 
Fund raisers, in 1977, included our free will offering smorgasbord and nickel socials with raffles.  These were a lot of fun and all members took part.  That same year, in November, we had a newspaper drive.
 
In March 1978, we purchased items for the firemen's kitchen. In November, we donated towards the rescue squad's new ambulance, and helped with a dinner to raise money for the same.  Our whole auxiliary was trained to assist the Red Cross in case of flooding.
 
We decided not to hold meetings in the summer of 1980.  The ladies wanted to have fun in the sun.  This year we purchased a banner with our firemen.
 
Each year we take an ad in the Grieene County Firemen's Convention booklet with the firemen and rescue squad.  At Christmas, the auxiliary donates to "Toys for Tots" and the party at the Firemen's Home in Hudson.  Many donations have been made to hardship families in our community.  Our auxiliary sold many tickets for the burn unit at Albany Medical Center, which was a County Auxiliary fund raiser.
 
WOW....September 1983 -- Ashland held the Greene County Firemen's Association convention.  Our auxiliary, and every county auxiliary member, will never forget our entertainment.
 
Finally, in the fall of 1985, we bought new uniforms.  In September, we held our 10th Annual dinner.  We were really surprised to have lasted that long.
 
In September 1986, our member, Janice Knox, became President of the Greene County Ladies Auxiliary.  She served for two years.  Janice has been our president for twelve years.  Sandy Rion has served as our secretary for fourteen years.  NOW THAT's HISTORY!!!
 
Let us not forget all those cold nights that we served coffee and refreshments to our firemen.

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