Citizen's Hose Company No. 5 and Ladies Auxiliary
Catskill 

Transcribed by Sharon Palmateer from the Greene County Volunteer Firemen’s Association 1889-1989 One-Hundred Years of Fire Service History


wpe1.jpg (10747 bytes)“Fearless and Faithful” and “Where duty calls, there you’ll find us” -- These are the mottoes that call to arms a band of firemen known as Citizens Hose Company No. 5, Catskill, New York. 

Organized April 10, 1869 by a group of nine men, the first officers were elected with William Joesbury appointed foreman.  Since that memorable evening, the history and achievements of the fire company have been phenomenal.

Formed as an auxiliary to the F. N. Wilson Engine Company No. 5, the company was first incorporated in 1869.  On October 12, 1869, a motion was made to purchase a used hand-drawn hose cart at a cost of $100.  On November 15, 1869, the company responded to its first fire on Water Street, arriving first at the scene with all members present. 

The company resolved on February 2, 1870, that the company uniform would be a white fire helmet, red shirt, white belt and black pants.  On Jun 2, 1874, the company made its first parade appearance in Catskill with twenty men in line.  Over the years, the company parade uniform has been off white in color, which is reflected in its modern dress parade uniform.  Between 1887 and 1912 the company received thirteen first place prizes, included three at State Conventions; the first in Troy 1887, Coney Island 1893 and Newburgh 1912.

On August 30, 1915, a committee was appointed by the President to investigate the purchase of a motor chassis for fire apparatus.  Thus, the first motorized apparatus was obtained.

Mrs. Charles Dunn appeared before the company meeting on December 13, 1915 for the purpose of organizing an auxiliary to be called “The Ladies Auxiliary Organization of Citizens Hose Company No. 5.”  On December 20, 1915, the company voted to authorize the formation of the Ladies Auxiliary.

In April 1923, the company met with village officials and receive permission to purchase a new Seagrave combination service truck for $8,500.  The Village would pay $5,000 and the company $3,500.  By July 1925, the company had paid its loan note to the bank in the amount of $3,500, and on November 13, 1925, voted to deed complete ownership of the truck to the Village.

The late 1920’s saw the disbanding of the F. N. Wilson Engine Co., with Citizens Hose obtaining their hook and ladder truck, thus entrusting the company with two pieces of  fire apparatus. The trucks were housed on the first floor of the Village Hall.

On January 15, 1935 at 2:00 a.m., disaster struck.  Fire raged through the Village Hall.  Due to the fact that the village fire alarm was mounted atop the burning building, only one short blast could be given before the wiring burned out.  However, A. M. Osborn Hose Co. No. 2, housed only a few short blocks from the fire, together with Wiley Hose Co. No. 1, located on West Bridge Street, quickly responded and proceeded to quell the flames, but not before the entire building, as well as an adjacent building, was completely destroyed.

Stunned by this event, Citizens Hose Co., together with Village officials, immediately met and made arrangements for temporary equipment.  With the cooperation of a local firm, a rack body truck was loaned to the village.  Equipped with a few ladders, a couple of nozzles and some fire hose, the company was again “in service” answering alarms together with the other two village fire companies only two days following the fire.

Temporary truck quarters were set up in a nearby garage and meeting quarters in a room at the Elks Building, later to become the Village Hall and permanent quarters for the company.

On February 7, 1935 the Village Board, due to the fire emergency, ordered one Seagrave Hook and Ladder truck to be purchased, and upon delivery, turned it over to Citizens Hose.  The truck arrived on June 27, 1935, and remained in constant service until May 1959.

October 4, 1937 saw the delivery to the company of a new 12-cylinder, 750 gpm American LaFrance pumper, also purchased  by the Village Board.  This unit remained in service until December 1966.  It was later bought back from the Village of Catskill by the company.  Having been completely refurbished, it has been entered in many parades as an antique piece of fire apparatus and has won several awards.

In keeping with modern trends, and showing proper foresight, a company motion was made on December 8, 1947, to form a Rescue Squad within the company and purchase one new, fully equipped, ambulance.  On May 30, 1948, the first Veterans memorial ambulance was dedicated and placed in service at the present fire station.  By July of the same year, a committee was appointed to obtain a second ambulance, due to the number of calls being answered.  All funds for the purchase came from donations of the fine people of this area.  Since its inception, the rescue squad had answered in excess of 21,000 ambulance calls at no charge.

Again in keeping with progressive fire fighting methods, the first aerial ladder truck in Greene County was obtained through this company’s efforts.  This truck was delivered to the company in May 1959.

December 6, 1966 saw yet another innovation to the Catskill Fire Department with the delivery to Citizens Hose Co. No. 5 of a new Seagrave, diesel-powered, 1,000 gpm pumper, again a first in the area.

In September of 1986, the 1959, 75’ aerial ladder was retired and replaced with a new 1986 Pirsch 110’ aerial ladder.  Again, diesel power was put to use, along with a fully automatic drivetrain.

One of our greatest assets is the Citizens Hose Co. No.  5 Ladies Auxiliary.  Their organization was formed on March 29, 1943, at a meeting presided over by Mr. Norman Finch, then President of Citizens Hose Fire Co.  The treasury was started with $25 donated by the men.  There were 24 ladies in attendance, and from those the following were elected:  President - Mrs. Finch, First Vice President - Mrs. Harold Platner, Second Vice President - Mrs. Jordan, Recording Secretary - Mrs. Wm. Schubert, Financial Secretary - Mrs. Herman Thein, and Treasurer - Mrs. Dewey Tippens.  At that meeting, it was decided the auxiliary would meet on the first Monday of the month, and annual dues would be 75 cents.

This group of dedicated women has been at our side always.  The ladies are always out serving hot coffee, soup, etc. at the scene of fires, floods and other emergencies.  They never complain of the winter cold or the summer heat while helping the men on the line.

These women are also a fine marching unit, and always accompany the men in parades; bringing home many a fine trophy as proof of their marching expertise.

We, as well as our fine Ladies Auxiliary, are looking forward to continued service, with a proud history and a bright future.  We will lawyers face squarely the challenges of the future and remain ever loyal to our motto - “Fearless and Faithful.”


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