Transcribed by Sharon Palmateer from the Greene County Volunteer Firemen’s Association 1889-1989 One-Hundred Years of Fire Service History
On March 13, 1886, a meeting was called by George K.
Porter at the Jennings Hotel for all interested citizens of the Town of Cairo
for the purpose of organizing a fire company.
A temporary chairman and secretary were appointed at the largely attended
meeting. The chairman then
appointed a By-Laws Committee.
A second meeting was held on March 15th at the Walters
Hotel at which time a constitution and by-laws were unanimously adopted,
completing the formation of Cairo’s first fire company.
Chairman Porter raised $300 in a very successful fund raising drive. This money was used for the purchase of a hand pumper with 200 feet of hose from the Catskill Fire Department.
The first regular meeting of the newly formed fire company was held at the Jennings Hotel on the first Monday in April. The fire company was named the G. K. Porter Engine Company in honor of its founder, Mr. George K. Porter. There were 33 active members and 23 honorary members.
In 1925, the need for motorized equipment was recognized. An American LaFrance fire engine was ordered and was delivered in 1926. It was housed in the Cairo Garage on Main Street until the firehouse on Railroad Avenue was renovated to accommodate the new truck. That same year the name of the company was changed to Cairo Hose Company.
The church bell on the Methodist Church, which now the Masonic Temple, was rung to summon the firemen for a fire until a siren was purchased in 1930 by more fund raising campaigns.
The fire company survived the dark days of the Great Depression and World War II. After the war, in 1946, a second fire engine was purchased from the army. In 1947, the voters approved the expansion of the fire district to cover the entire Town of Cairo with the exception of the Round Top District. An engine tanker pumper was purchased and delivered in 1948. At that time the firehouse was expanded to accommodate the new truck and a kitchen was added.
A new Mack pumper was purchased in 1955 to replace the 1926 American LaFrance, and is still in service. Parade uniforms were purchased in 1956. These uniforms have won many trophies for the company.
In 1956, the Greene County Communications System was established. At that time, radio equipment was purchased for all the trucks, improving communications at fires.
The organizing of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Cairo Hose Company began in October 1957 to render assistance to the company in every way possible and to create a feeling of good fellowship among its members. The original by-laws were accepted on January 13, 1958, and the Auxiliary has been very active ever since.
Another Mack engine tanker was purchased in 1968 and stored in the Cairo Town Highway garage next to the firehouse. In 1969, home alerts were purchased for the purpose of alerting firemen at their homes.
A new fire station was built in 1971, and in 1973, a new International engine tanker was purchased. This added greatly to the fire protection for the district.
In 1976, the Cairo Hose Company celebrated its 90th Anniversary with our country’s bicentennial.
In 1978, another Mack engine tanker was purchased, replacing the 1948 engine tanker. A mini-pumper was added to the fleet in 1983 to replace the 1946 Ford.
In closing, we are proud to be a part of the Greene County’s 100th Anniversary celebration.
On October 7, 1957, a meeting was held at the Cairo firehouse for the purpose of forming a Ladies Auxiliary to render assistance to the Cairo Hose Co. The first officers elected that night were Mae C. Forrester, President; Hilda Rogers, Vice President; Mildred Meddaugh, Financial Secretary; Laura Baldwin, Treasurer; Agnes Lamanec, Guard; Florence Wortman, Chaplain. Directors elected were Marjory Smith - 1 year, Helen Algozzine - 2 years, and Wilda O’Donnell - 3 years.
We were ably assisted at this meeting by Florence Hoovler and Jean Bancroft of Round Top Auxiliary; and at a subsequent meeting held on October 24th for the purpose of setting up by-laws, Norma Bodratti of the Round Top Auxiliary came to our assistance. It was decided at this later meeting to hold our regular monthly meeting on the first Monday of each month.
Eligibility in the organization is based on the fact that an applicant must be 18 years of age and have a husband, father, son or brother as a deceased, exempt or active member of the Cairo Hose Co. The By-laws were adopted on January 13, 1958. There were 36 charter members.
In May 1958, the firemen, being proud of their ladies, invited us to join them in the Memorial Day Parade. We then decided that if we were going to march with the men, we would have to think about uniforms. Something very simple was decided upon, as the girls paid for their own uniforms. A navy blue pleated skirt, white blouse and red neckerchief was decided on, with a blue and white overseas cap and black shoes. While the uniform was very plain, we received many compliments from the onlookers. We later changed the color of the shoes to white, which added something to the uniform. At Hunter, New York in September 1958, we won our first trophy for being the best appearing auxiliary in line of march. This was a proud day for us.
In January 1961, new uniforms were ordered. They were navy blue vests and pleated skirts, with white blouses, blue ties and WAVE hats. In September 1961, in our new uniforms, we won another trophy for best appearance. These uniforms were used until 1986, when we purchased our present uniforms.
We joined the Ladies Auxiliary of the Greene County Volunteer Firemen’s Association in the Spring of 1958, and our membership has increased to 23 members at the present time. We are proud to have had three members serve as President of the County organization -- Mae C. Forrester, Elaine Butts and the current president, Barbara Orin.
Over the years, we have raised money for ourselves and
for the Cairo Hose Co. by holding food sales, raffles, rummage sales, Bingo
games, card games, nickel socials, craft sales, a Valentine Dance for 13
consecutive years, and our annual Election Day spaghetti dinner which we started
Also, over the years, we have spent our hard earned
money for uniforms, banners, drapes and shades, dishes and flatware, thermos
jugs and coffee pots (all sizes), chairs and a coat caddy. We have given our support to the New York State Firemen’s
Home, the Cairo-Durham Central School, a very successful ambulance fund drive in
1964, sent an underprivileged child to camp several years, established a special
fund for the use of the School Nurse, and hosted an Open House for the new
firehouse in Cairo in 1973. We have
donated to various organizations in the Town and County over the years, and we
have worked along with our firemen when Cairo hosted the County Convention in
1962 and again in 1986, when the Cairo Hose Co. celebrated its 100th birthday.