East Durham Volunteer
Fire Department

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


In September 1927, the East Durham Volunteer Fire Company was organized.  By December of the same year property had been acquired, a building built, and a Childs triple combination pumper installed ready to roll.  All expenses were met with donations from the public and no taxes were levied.  In 1939, a Ford pick-up was purchased to be used as a first attack unit.  The chemical tanks and grass fire equipment were installed from the Childs – easing the load.

After World War II, Oak Hill and Freehold companies were formed, which helped cut response time and miles.  In 1947 a John Bean Hy-pressure fog on an International chassis along with a war surplus Ford pumper were put into service.  The proved themselves many times but created another problem-no room.  1949 saw land purchased and a 32 x 50 ft. engine house erected.

Fire in the meeting hall in 1957 caused interior damage but thanks to the Hy-pressure and early discovery, a quick stop was made.  New kitchen facilities with cabinets, counter and a new stove saw the start of the Spring and Fall dinners which are still going on to raise funds.

In 1959 a used fuel tank truck was put into service to supplement our water supply by taking it with us.

Big changes were made in 1965-66.  Due to inflated prices and changes in the economy, a petition was circulated and a Fire Protection District was formed to help maintain equipment.

In 1967 a new International chassis with a John Bean Hy-pressure pump was purchased.  This had a 750 gpm two-stage pump, a 750 gallon tank and 549 ci engine to help us over the hills.  Profit from the convention helped pay for this truck.  Shortly thereafter, another used tank, to supplement this truck with water, was purchased.  On a Sunday four of the fellows spotted an old van (step-in) and after $25 each, a little painting and fixing, EDVFC had a unit to carry the resuscitator, gear, brush fire tools, generator, etc., plus a place to get warm at the fires in the winter.  Oh yes, the Company did reimburse the men.

In 1969 a parcel of land in Cornwallville was donated and a satellite station was built to house the 1946 fog and a tank truck for quicker response to the western part of out District.

1976 saw the 4x4 Maxim 1000 gallon pumper with 2000 feet of four inch hose bought and again the 1977 convention profit helped with the payments.  Later another used van replaced the old one which was donated to Medusa.  The Tow of Durham Ambulance Squad “Jaws of Life” are carried on this unit plus a 7500 watt generator for night time use.

1982 to 1984 was spent looking, listening and planning to develop the land next door, purchased in 1971 for our parking lot, into larger facilities.  Letters were sent to fire district taxpayers explaining our plans and a questionnaire for replies.  August 6, 1984, the old engine room was demolished and December 2, 1984 the trucks were backed in our new 60 x 80 foot Morton building.  We now had new storage, heating system, bathrooms and a Chief’s Office.  To save interest and with the taxpayers’ approval, this building was completely paid for in one year along with the 20,000 gallon water tank buried along side for fire protection in the village.

With 1987 approaching, the Company formed a committee for the 1987 Greene County Convention to be held in East Durham.  Under the chairmanship of Carl Sala and Fred Heller and with a little bit of Irish thrown in, an excellent convention was hosted to all who participated in the festivities.  Our new hall was decorated, thanks to the Ladies, and we invited Jackson Hose Company from Nyack with their green pumper with gold shamrocks to parade the streets of East Durham.  We didn’t make a lot of money, but what we did went into a truck fund.

1988 saw a committee formed and a 1989 FMC on an International chassis ordered.  Once again letters were sent to the taxpayers asking if a truck could be purchased and paid for in one year by raising the taxes.  Replies affirmed the decision to do so.

East Durham is proud to say we have had as Presidents of Greene County Volunteer Firemen’s Association Burton Snyder in 1931, Russell Cole in 1970, Eugene Jennings in 1980 and hopefully in 1990, Carl Sala who at present is 1st Vice President.

The public, far and near, have been very good to us with their support of our dinners, bake sales, tag days, dances, etc. and we are extremely grateful to them.  Also, we are sure our forefathers would be proud of us for the way we have carried on the tradition they started sixty plus year ago.

The members of the East Durham Volunteer Fire Company hope all enjoy the Greene County Firemen’s Convention and wish everyone a safe, healthy and prosperous future.

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The Ladies Auxiliary of the East Durham Volunteer Fire Company was organized on October 21, 1927, at Lawyers Hall, East Durham.  Its aim and purpose being to help defray the expenses of the Fire Company.  Nine members organized the Auxiliary that night with forty-five more ladies joining during the first year. 

The activities of the Ladies Auxiliary have been varied and many.  Bake sales, suppers, annual dinners, dances and raffles are held to raise funds to quip the kitchen in the meeting hall and to support the firemen with extras such as hose ramps, coats, boots, tables and chairs.

In 1967 when East Durham hosted the Greene County Volunteer Firemen’s Convention, the ladies took a more active part in the County organization.  Several ladies joined the Greene County Ladies Auxiliary and the ladies hosted at a buffet dinner at the Weldon House for the convention.

Eight meetings are held during October to May and in June a Dutch Treat dinner is held in a nearby restaurant.  At this dinner, those who have attained 25 consecutive years of membership are honored with a 25 year pin and a life membership card.

The December meeting used to be combined with the men’s meeting and a Christmas party followed with the ladies furnishing a buffet of delicious foods.  In 1974 an installation of officers was held for the first time at the Christmas party.  The installation has followed each year, but now we have our party catered so we can all enjoy it as well as having a band for all to enjoy afterwards.

1977 came in with a bang.  East Durham was to host the Greene County Convention again.  This time the ladies worked along side the men throughout the whole convention-from planning to end.  The ladies provided a delightful dinner at Mullan’s Mt. Spring Hotel for 250 County ladies.  After dinner, a mock wedding was held at the Grange Hall with the cast mostly made up of members of the Auxiliary and Fire Company.  This hilarious event was completed by a reception at Hans and Gretel Restaurant with the ladies following the bride and groom in their decorated wheelbarrow up Route 145, stopping all traffic in the village.  On parade day, 18 women marched in the gala parade in their new blue and red uniforms.  Four women rode in a car and three 50 year members also were riding in the parade.  The ladies look especially nice and were proud of their new uniforms and banner.

The banner stayed the same but in 1982 the Ladies decided to change their capes, blue blouses and blue hats to white blouses, red vests and to add white hats so we were similar to the men.  A couple of trophies have been added to our collection since then.

In 1986 we started planning for hosting the Convention in 1987 with the men.  We decided the Ladies would have their steak dinner served to them by the men in the new building.  After decorations of green and white flowers and balloons were placed on green tablecloths, the hall was ready for the festivities.  Approximately 200 ladies were served.  Following the dinner, the Ladies attended a Firematic Beauty Pageant put on by the East Durham Company and Auxiliary members.  From beginning to end the ladies rolled in the aisles as some of the beauty?? Contestants showed up on stage in their unique costumes.  To tell you the truth, some of the panel of judges were almost as “unique”.  After the final winner was crowned and she was placed on her “throne”, the roar died down, the K of C Hall walls stopped vibrating and all came back to the fire house for refreshments.  The following night the Ladies served the men at their dinner in the same festive atmosphere.  All members had their “Welcome to Our House” shirts on during the entire week.  After Mardi Gras parade with 1937 Sex Symbol from East Durham parading the streets in her “chariot”, the same players staged the same show for the men at the K of C Hall.  Linda Keuver did a fantastic job as Mistress of Ceremonies keeping the “Take It Off!” calls to a minimum as the “beauties” paraded on stage.

East Durham Ladies are proud to have had three of their members as officers of Greene County Ladies Auxiliary.  Diane Sala has held the Financial Secretary and Treasurer’s offices, Laurie Jennings, the Treasurer’s office and Beverley Jennings, all offices except the Treasurer’s office.  Beverley has also been active in the Hudson Valley Ladies Auxiliary holding Treasurer and Recording Secretary offices as well as being in the “Mass of Flags” at the NYS Ladies Auxiliary installation of President Davey Beska.

We are still having our annual pancake supper in March and our annual May roast beef dinner plus a nickel social and a dance when we can fit them in our busy schedules.  We’ve learned how to have a little fun also by participating in the Mardi Gras parades and drill days.

The Ladies Auxiliary has given generously of its moral and financial aid during the past sixty plus years to the Fire Company.  We wish to extend to all members our heartiest Congratulations and Best Wishes for many more years to come as well as for a very successful Convention in 1989.


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