The beginning of the present Hoosac Hose Company took place during the summer of 1892 when a public subscription was taken to buy certain fire fighting apparatus and hose. At a meeting of the subscribers held on October 7, 1892 a temporary business organization was affected. G.Z. Dean was chosen president, J.G. Northrup, treasurer and F.C. Brown, secretary. They together with three others were names to a committee to purchase a hose cart and hose. At a meeting on October 25, 1892, they reported that a cart and 500 feet of hose had been purchased and paid for. Also at that meeting a permanent organization was set up and by-laws adopted. In apparent satisfaction of the purchase, Mr. Dean was elected president; Mr. Brown, secretary and Mr. Northrup, clerk. The name of the new organization was to be The Cheshire Fire Hose Co.
In January of 1900, the company voted to hold an annual ball, the proceeds of which would go towards the purchase of a hook and ladder cart and a 60 gallon soda-acid extinguisher on wheels. Mr. George Haskins donated a Star auto chassis to the company on which the department mounted a 60 gallon chemical tank, 500 feet of hose, and three ladders. This truck lasted until 1935 when three disastrous fires in two weeks, one of them Mr. Haskin’s own home, destroyed about $15,000 worth of real estate.
In the spring of 1935, representatives of the fire department, with the authorization of the town, purchased a Diamond T truck chassis from the Maxim company of Middleboro, Massachusetts. It was agreed that the Maxim Motor Company would mount a 500 gallon/minute geared pump, a 100 gallon booster tank, 200 feet of hose, 2 ladders and a hose body carrying 600 feet of 1 1/2″ hose, certain tools and two 2 1/2 extinguishers. To save money, a windshield for the truck was ordered but not installed by the company. The cost of the entire piece was less than $4500.
Equipment Program Success
The Hose Company moved from its old quarters, the Town Hall cellar, next door to the old trolley substation sometime after trolley service was discontinued in Cheshire, In 1956, an addition was built to the building and a 1,100 gallon tanker truck was purchased. Fifteen years later (1971), an active equipment replace program began and since then a 1977 Dodge Mini Pumper was purchased for $25,000, a 1987 Ford 1000 gallon pumper was purchased for $111,000, a 1991 International 1800 gallon tank truck with a 500 gallon pump was acquired for $79,125, the first new tanker the department ever owned. Most of this equipment stands ready to serve the community today.
New Fire Station Took Patience
After two years of exploratory and analytical activity, the Cheshire Fire Department Study Committee, on March 8, 1982 finally reached the unanimous decision to recommend the acquisition of Lamb’s Garage on South Street for a new fire station. On the following May 10th, at a special town meeting, the voters approved (95-57) the recommendation of the committee and appropriated the $200,000 for the purchase and renovation of Lamb’s Garage as a fire station for the town. The State Director of Accounts however ruled that the May 10 vote was illegal and that the $125,000 for the acquisition of the property and the $75,000 for the renovation had to be voted separately. Another town meeting was called for August 11th, and the appropriation of $125,000 for the purchase of the building was passed (198-47) but the $75,000 for the renovation failed to pass as an improper vote was taken on the Article. At a third Special Town Meeting on October 19th, the voters approved (61-12) the $75,000 remodeling and reconstruction funds. Both funds were to be repaid by means of a 10 year loan. The new fire house was on its way. Like so many other remodeling projects, this one took longer and cost more then planned and it was necessary for the townspeople to further appropriate $145,000 to complete the renovation in November of 1985. Finally all work was done and everyone was proud of the new facility. The Hoosac Hose Company occupied the building in December, 1986 and held a well attended open house on June 7, 1987.
Fire, Water and Chemicals
Today, we find the Hoosac Hose Company a well-equipped community support department ready to respond with a variety of emergency services and equipment never envisioned by the originating fathers. The company is currently equipped with SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus), equipment for fire or chemical emergencies, Amkus Jaws of Life to extricate trapped victims of auto or industrial accidents, an inflatable rescue boat, and numerous specialty pieces of equipment appropriate for a modern community service function. Equipment has been recognized as only one aspect to proficient service. The road for trained personnel has been recognized and satisfied. Today, Hoosac Hose Co. members, in addition to fire fighting, are trained in fire prevention, underwater search and rescue techniques and EMS (Emergency Medical Service).