of Greene County Volunteer Firemen's Association
copied from the Centennial Booklet One-Hundred Years of Fire
Service History 1889 - 1998, by Sharon Palmateer
The first President of the Greene County Volunteer Firemen's Association was
George H. Scott of Coxsackie, who served in 1889.
The earliest minutes of the association that could be found start September
16, 1907 -- The Nineteenth Annual Convention at Dolan's Opera House,
Coxsackie, NY. There were 14 companies represented with 28 delegates.
At that convention, five Vice Presidents were elected. George H. Scott
of Coxsackie was elected as delegate to FASNY (Firemen's Association for the
State of New York), balance in the treasury was $52.25 and the county
membership was 160. Morgan Hose Co. of Coxsackie was reinstated on this
date as a county member company. This made every active fire company in
the county a member.
The Citizen's Hook & Ladder Co., Tannersville, was formed in early 1908
and joined the County Association. Also in 1908, GCVFA put up $75 to
sponsor a room at the Firemen's Home. In 1909 the Windham Hose Co. was
The first mention of the 2% tax money was 1907--Catskill received $20.19,
Cairo - $0.00, Coxsackie - $14.28 and Tannersville - $8.25. In 1910 the
members of the Firemen's Home are referred to as 'inmates'. The
Convention of 1910 reports the County Association in sound financial condition
with $76.55 in the bank.
In 1913 a newspaper clipping shows FASNY had an endowment fund of $20,000 and
owned real estate valued at $220,000.
In 1917, the Greene County Volunteer Firemen in convention at Athens, NY
passed a resolution supporting President Woodrow Wilson in the United States
war against Germany. It is also reported that a new wing for the
Firemen's Home would cost $55,000 and would accommodate 60 more members.
There are 107 members in the Home at this time.
1917 -- 2% Tax Monies: Athens $5.39, Cairo $.68, Catskill $31.54,
Coxsackie $16.40, Greenville $0, Hensonville $.17, Hunter $3.50, Prattsville
$0, Tannersville $12.34, Windham $.96--an increase of $3.90 from 1916.
1919 -- 14 companies in good standing, 275 members. Treasurer's Report
$238.40. Three companies had not paid their dues.
1921 -- Convention in Coxsackie on September 5. The big issue was
Section 22 of the Civil Service Law. This law protected volunteer
firemen from being discharged or suspended from their job unless they were
proven incompetent or for misconduct. The fire service was working very
hard to get this law passed. This same year a bill was introduced in the
State Legislature requiring that instruction in fire prevention should be
given to the public. The bill passed both houses, but the Governor
refused to sign it.
The 2% Tax Money for all Greene County, September 4, 1922 was $102.50.
1924 -- Cairo, NY, September 1 - Leeds Hose Co. #1 became the newest county
member. At this convention 18 fire companies or departments were
represented and 391 member were enrolled. The County now had $484.17 on
1925 -- The firemen of Greene County assembled at the Firemen's Home in Hudson
to be part of the program to lay the cornerstone for the museum.
1928 -- The insurance law was changed so that the 2% monies would go to the
treasurer of the fire districts rather than the supervisor.
1930 -- East Durham. Guest speaker was Chief Joseph Murphy of Kingston,
NY. We had 19 companies and 405 members. The treasury had $353.41.
1931 -- Convention Coxsackie September 14-15. Big discussion on
what we are going to do when there are no more volunteer firemen. It was
felt that volunteering for the fire service was fading out. This same
year the Legislature increased the Volunteer Firemen's Death Benefit to $750.
1934 -- George Sweet of West Coxsackie took Seth Cole's place on the Board of
Trustees of the Firemen's Home. Convention held in Tannersville.
Governor Lehman was the guest speaker. Many changes were made in the
by-laws. 19 companies, 475 members $501.63 in the bank. The
secretary's report stated that he hoped the new president would receive more
cooperation than the old one received. 169 men at the Firemen's Home.
1935 -- At the convention in Windham, it was decided to have a joint
convention in Catskill with the Greene County Association and the new
Hudson River Valley Volunteer Firemen's Association. All 19 companies in
the county agreed to donate $100 for this cause. Tannersville was first
with the money. The Convention was planned for 1938. The first
Greene County Day at the Firemen's Home was October 27, 1935.
1936 -- Town of Lexington Fire Company, Inc. joined the county association.
It was decided to purchase a monument for George H. Scott. Each company
in the county was asked to donate $30 for the monument.
1938 -- Convention Tannersville. No more was mentioned about a joint
convention in Catskill. The George H. Scott Memorial Fund reached $1050.
The date set for unveiling the G. H. Scott Memorial was set for June 22, 1939
at 10:30 AM.
1939 -- Convention Catskill. Two quarterly meetings in New Baltimore
with 52 to 59 members.
1940 -- April 17, Westkill, NY. County Supervisors gave $300 to start a
fire school. It was decided to have the fire school on Thursday nights
at Catskill High School. There were 136 members present at this meeting.
It was decided that $50 be given for Greene County Day at the Firemen's Home.
Westerlo and Rensselaerville asked to join the association. We now have
23 fire companies and 441 members.
1941 -- It was noted that the fire equipment in Greene County was inadequate
in the event of a National emergency. $578.37 in the bank. Roy
Freer resigned as First Vice President.
1942 -- Charles Stewart of Tannersville suggested that Central Hudson dim the
house lights several times as an air raid warning. A list of farmers'
spraying machines was put together in case they were needed for fire fighting.
Greene County was one of five counties in the state that did not have a mutual
aid plan. There was no parade at the Annual Convention. Balance on
1945 -- 22 companies belong to the association, 651 members. Medway-Grapeville became a member.
1946 -- First time Catskill Firematic Activities was mentioned.
Individual dues were raised from $.50 to $1.00. Hensonville Hose Co.
joined the association. Motion made by Pat Cummings, seconded by Seth
Cole, that the company with most members attending quarterly meetings be
awarded a trophy.
1947 -- The average membership for quarterly meetings is 90. A
letter was received from FASNY requesting that we organize rescue squads.
Committee appointed to look into this was Ralph Grobe, John Carl and Richard
1948 -- Kiskatom Fire Department joined the association. Citizen Hose
Co. #5 organized their rescue squad in February this year and have two new
Packard Henny ambulances. In three months the squad answered 109 calls.
Balance in treasury $1068.23. 60th Annual Convention held in Coxsackie
with 104 members present from 20 companies. Secretary's salary was
increased to $50. Motion made by George Sweet, seconded by Charles
Hitchcock, that the County Board of Supervisors be contacted to see if a
firemen's training course could be reactivated.
1949 -- Mr. Elmer Young, temporary secretary of the temporary Advisory
Committee, outlined the necessary procedure for the firemen's training school.
Elmer also pointed out that an active Advisory Committee of nine men would be
appointed immediately. The first chairman of the Advisor Committee was
Fred Hanna. Roy Moon extended an invitation to the county officers to
attend the first quarterly meeting of the Catskill Firematic Committee.
Oak Hill-Durham joined the association and Freehold also joined.
1950 -- Vic Schrader was introduced as our Forest Ranger. Membership
reached 687. The county association went on record as favoring a county
mutual aid program, a fire coordinator and a fire advisory board.
1951 -- It was noted in the minutes that for the last few years, the quarterly
meetings were getting 114-117 men per meeting and averaging 22 companies.
James Scary of Windham reported that the Board of Supervisors of Greene County
placed $1600 in their budget to assist the county mutual aid program.
Columbia and Greene County Firemen's Association each donated $600 to furnish
a room at the Firemen's Home. This was to be paid off in installments of
$200 a year. Coral Couchman served one year as Fire Coordinator and was
replaced by Elmer Young on December 6, 1951.
1952 -- Balance on hand $1623.65. Greene County Fire Chiefs'
Association was accepted as members to this association. Secretary Leroy
Hole was given a typewriter. Membership at 535. Commission of
Firematic Activities of Catskill was made a member.
1953 -- Elmer Young, Fire Coordinator, gave a talk on the progress of mutual
aid and passed out cards to those that finished the first fire school.
1954 -- A committee was appointed to look into radio communications for Greene
County. A committee was Eugene Van Loan, Athens; William Powell,
Tannersville; James Baldwin, New Baltimore and Len Edwards, Palenville.
1955 -- It was reported that Greene County had one of the best fire schools in
the State. Richard Harty, Jr. made a report on the coming convention in
Hunter. West Athens-Limestreet Fire Company joined the association.
Elmer Young reports that the funds were approved for the county's two-way
radios. James Baldwin, instructor for the county fire school offered a
new course on fire inspection that takes 60 hours.
1956 -- Elmer Young explained procedure on fighting fires on the Thruway.
There are no crash gates. It was reported that bingo may become legal
1958 -- Members - 31 fire companies & organizations. Don Nichols,
Hunter - County President - proposed that each company in the county pay $100
toward the expenses of the next convention. No place or date was set.
The secretary's salary was raised to $100. March 1958 - Dick Harty
reported that Hunter would take the 1958 Convention. Testimonial dinner
for Elmer Young, May 26, 1958.
1960 -- At the convention in Coxsackie it was noted that G. H. Scott Hook
& Ladder Co. was having its 100th Anniversary. East Jewett Fire Co.
was invited to join the association. It was decided to incorporate the
association. A three day convention for 1961 in Catskill was approved.
1961 -- 33 First Organizations - 474 paid members. A testimonial dinner
for Roy Hover was planned.
1962 -- The place for Roy Hover-Winnie Wheat Testimonial burned down (Pleasant
View Lodge). New plans are being made. It was suggested that the
price for the meal be kept under $2.50. Vic Schrader reported over 300
Greene County firemen and friends attended Greene County Day at the Firemen's
Home. Resignation from Claude Palmer was accepted. He was Second Vice
President. Earlton Fire Company joined the association. A
committee was appointed to make up a standard set of parade rules for the
county. A discussion was held on who can have a blue or red light.
1963 -- The beginning of the reading of the parade rules has started.
These rules were read many times and changed many times. The original
approved parade rules are in our book of minutes June 27, 1963. Fire
Commissioner Thompson of New York City was guest speaker at our convention in
Athens. Bank balance $1745.98.
1964 -- William Reich and Elmer Young were appointed as committee to look
into forming a Greene County Vest Organization. A resolution was read to
raise fire company dues to $10 from $4. 589 Active members, 25 Honorary
and 6 Associate. James Scary made a motion, seconded by Sheldon Maben,
that we go on record to preserve the Armory in Catskill. Letter was sent
to the County Board of Supervisors.
1965 -- The County Board of Supervisors appointed the president to serve a one
year term on the Fire Advisory Board with no vote. After many meetings,
President Tom Rogers talked West Athens-Limestreet into paying their dues.
1966 -- Dinner for Frank Cummings, 50 years active member. Elmer Young
reported that we now have a trailer-mounted fire unit for the County, and it
will be housed in Catskill. Bruce Borwegan who is in charge of the
County Blood Bank, reports we have 101 pints.
1967 -- It was decided that we should look into the possibility of an
annual Past President's Dinner.
1968 -- The office of Financial Secretary was started at a salary of $100 per
year, to handle membership cards and dues and to notify members of meetings.
1969 -- Motion made Howard Winnie, seconded Biff Andrus, that all 50 year
members be given a lapel pin and a certificate. Howard Winnie and Jack
Verdansdonk were appointed a committee to meet with Bob Cooper at the
Firemen's Home and try to set up a vacation fund for the members of the Home.
This vacation fund was later changed to entertainment fund. Our first
Past President's Dinner was a complete success.
1970 -- Many changes were made in the parade rules. Membership 703 -
Companies 32. 50 year pins were given to Jay Outt, Frank Ward, Floyd
Dumond and Winnie Wheat. Motion made Bill Reich, seconded by Howard
Winnie, that we do not accept applications for conventions beyond five years.
Dick Harty reports we had 196 people at the Past President's Dinner.
1971 -- Elmer Young reports that the new county numbering system for fire
apparatus was ready. Frank Jolly was made an honorary member. Judy
Rhodes resigned as editor of our County paper.
1972 -- Dorothy Beechert volunteered to be the editor of our County paper.
After discussion about lost monies, it was decided to bond all officers for
$5000. Palenville had the first Greene County Drill Day.
1973 -- July 15 - Elmer Young Day - Membership: 711 Active members, two
Coxsackie men are 50 year members--Arthur Smith and Millard Blossom. 250
tickets were sold for the Past President's Dinner. During the gas
shortage, any fire company that could not get gas from their normal dealer
could get it from the nearest county highway garage.
1974 -- 50 year member, Pat Cummings, Catskill. Still talking about the
number system. No action.
1975 -- Total membership 882. The best Greene County on record,
1976 -- Letter of Congratulations to Albany County Association for their
progress. Bill Craven of Palenville designed a county patch. 1000
were ordered. Ron Garrison replaced Bruce Borwegan as County Fire
1977 -- Ron Garrison reports very tough winter; ice on many ponds three feet
thick. Greene County Association paid for 1/2 the cost of the patches
for guides at the Firemen's Home - $78. 937 members. From 1970 to
1977, there was hardly a meeting that parade rules were not discussed.
1978 -- Dick Harty reports the first girls in his training class.
1979 -- Russell Cole reports that the Legislature gave us the land we need for
the training center in Cairo.
1980 -- President Gene Jennings announced that New York State was issuing
Volunteer Firemen's license plates. 670 members. President
Jennings also reported the Firemen's Home had received its second Century Tub
from the GCFVA Ladies Auxiliary. Plans were made to have our 100th
Anniversary Dinner and Convention at the new training center, Cairo, NY.
It was announced that the planning board was taking over the number system.
1981 -- A green sport jacket committee was appointed. 616 Members.
50 year badge to William Van Valkenburg.
1982 -- 598 Active members. Request from Catskill Firematic Activities
and G. H. Scott Hook and Ladder for the 100th Anniversary 1989 Convention.
It was decided to give certificates to 25 year members rather than exemption
1983 -- $652.50 in 100th Anniversary Convention Fund. 571 Active
1984 -- Meetings were held but no dates or secretary signatures. R.
Anable reports the County Legislature will be giving us $1000 per year for our
1986 -- The County Legislature requested the County Association to resubmit
their request for anniversary funds in mid-1988. $50 was set aside to
purchase a plaque for Herman Harmsen, who is leaving us after 60 years of
1987 -- The 100th Anniversary Convention was changed from G. H. Scott Hook and
Ladder to Catskill Firematic Activities Committee. All G. H. Scott
members in good standing to be made honorary members. 524 Active
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