Department History Museum

Our History

The following was written by the former department historian, the late Richard Simmes, using documents found in the department's archives:

When the Glens Falls City Fire Department found that they could no longer, in any way guarantee the Town of Queensbury fire protection, plans to furnish our own protection became necessary. The idea of forming a Fire Company, to be located outside the city has been discussed for a period of years. One of the ideas explored was to have one company with the fire truck housed in some central location and the personnel to be drawn from the entire Town of Queensbury. It was suggested that the Town (of Queensbury) buy a truck and house it in the city (of Glens Falls). Then one or two city firemen would drive it to our fires. Our volunteer firemen would then take over the job of actually fighting the fire. These and some other ideas were discussed and abandoned. Finally the western part of the town formed a company known today as the West Glens Falls Volunteer Fire Company. For a while they tried to protect the town with a homemade truck. This proved inadequate.

Early in 1948, a few men met at the home of Bernard Codner on Mountainview Lane. It was at this meeting that a definite decision to organize a fire company in the Town of Queensbury was made. While we all knew we had a job on our hands, I doubt if any one of us realized just how big that job was to be. We don’t have a definite count of the number of meetings and gatherings held, but I feel confident in saying that, few if any days passed that some steps towards its forming was not taken by somebody. Subsequent meetings were held about the area. Some were at Dr. Wiswall’s pet hospital on Glenwood avenue in the Pine View Road School on Pine View Road, in the Glenwood School, in the school at the corner of Aviation Road and Mountain View Lane (known today as the Prospect School) and in Owen Kane’s garage on Bay Road. As our efforts began to take shape, these meetings grew in number of men attending and in enthusiasm. More men who had belonged to the volunteer fire company joined in the work and were a big help. On October 26, 1948 an application for incorporation was signed by:

Edward C. Bennett

Owen Kane

Bernard Codnar

H. Dewey Miller

Charles Chamberlain

C.H. Olmsted

Arthur Goldman

Leland Pierce

Wallace Hall

J. Floyd Sleight

Wheeler Howe

Jesse Smith

Charles Howe

George Stewart

Curtis Harrington

Howard Wallace

R. George Wiswall

On October 29, 1948 the Queensbury Town Board composed of H. Russell Harris, Curtis Lampson, Meridith Bentley, Raymond Walkup and Henry Sleight officially approved our organization.

On October 30, 1948 Supreme Court Justice D.F. Emery approved our Incorporation.

Our charter is dated November 19, 1948.

On December 14, 1948 at a meeting held at the present day Prospect School at the corner of Aviation Road and Mountain View Lane, our final organization was accomplished. The following names were listed as Active and Charter Members:

Alfred Abrams

Owen Kane

Karl Anderson

John Lanfear

Raymond Bates

Fred Leuenberger

Charles Chamberlain

Harold Dewey Miller

Bernard Codnar

Daniel Morrell

John Curley Sr.

James Mulholland

John Curley Jr.

Warren Northup

John Dunn

Leland Pierce

Harold Gardner

J. Floyd Sleight

Arthur Goldman

Jesse Smith

Wallace Hall

Robert F. Stott

Louis Hartman Sr.

Edward Trombley

Louis Hartmen Jr.

Norman Walbridge Sr.

Zenie Hewitt

Norman Walbridge Jr.

Wheeler Howe

R. George Wiswall

Charles Howe

Howard Wallace

The following Officers were elected and installed:

Chief - Bernard Codnar

1st Assistant Chief - Owen Kane

2nd Assistant Chief - Raymond Bates

President - R. George Wiswall

Vice President - Arthur Goldman

Secretary - Wheeler Howe

Treasurer - Fred Leuenberger

Director (One Year) - J. Floyd Sleight

Director (Two year) - James Mulholland

Director (Three Year) - Louis Hartman Sr.

April 4th, 1949 saw the purchase of an F.W.D. fire truck for $10,822.00 ($110,000 in 2018). It was equipped with 1000’ of 2-½" hose, 400’ of 1-½" hose, two booster reels with hose and two Hardie Fog Guns. It was to be painted red, trimmed with gold leaf and lettered QUEENSBURY CENTRAL VOL. FIRE CO. on the doors, the number of the truck on the cab and the letters Q.C.V.F.Co. on the hood. The number "1" was assigned by the company and number "317" was assigned by the Warren County Organization.

Records show that it wasn’t until September 17th that the Fire Company would see its first fire call - It was a brush fire at Robert Reed’s house on Bay Road.

On January 10th, 1950 Mrs. H. Dewey Miller requested permission to form a Ladies Auxiliary and her request was granted. On that same date, the men received the first delivery of coats, boots and helmets.

On February 22nd, 1950 a committee, chaired by Seward Ball and assisted by Clate Ramsey, J. Floyd Sleight, Ralph Blanchard and Jesse Smith were charged with the task of building a new firehouse. It was then that a 20’ by 40’ building was agreed upon with the materials being donated by the Woodbury Lumber Company and the A.C. Warner Company. A special meeting was held May 25th, 1950 to finalize the plans for the location of the proposed firehouse. The choices were Foster Avenue, Pine View Road, Lafayette Street or Aviation Road. None of the 51 members present considered the Lafayette Street or Aviation Road site - the majority voted to build the station at 1 Foster Avenue (ironically, the present day Station # 1 is located at 17 Lafayette Street and Station #2 is located at 145 Aviation Road). President J. Ernest Miller turned the first shovel of dirt June 8th, 1950 to break ground for Queensbury Central Volunteer Fire Company Station # 1. The cost of the site was $1000.00 (Just over $10,445 in 2018 dollars). At a meeting held June 13th, 1950 the membership authorized the addition of a second story on the new firehouse.

October 10th, 1950 marked the first regular business meeting held in the new firehouse. The Officers and the Building Committee asked the Ladies Auxiliary to assist in the planning of the kitchen area. It was agreed to borrow $4,000.00 from the National bank & Trust Company for this endeavor.

On November 14, 1950 it was decided to install a flashing light at the intersection of Glen Street and Foster Avenue. This project was completed July 5th, 1952. It was also decided to have two men stationed at the firehouse every night. The station remained virtually unchanged until June 1957, when $3,500.00 was borrowed from the National Bank & Trust Company to enlarge the station.

In November 1957, Queensbury Central took delivery of a Chevrolet truck ($4,463.00). It was given a designator of number "2" in house and "318" countywide.

The worst fire in the area as far as loss of life was at 6:40am on November 10th 1959 at the residence of Charles Harris in Jenkinsville (Bay Ridge) on the east side of town. Queensbury Central responded to a mutual aid request with one truck and several men. Eight people lost their lives, a mother, father and six children ranging in age from six months to six years old died in the blaze.

The largest fire ever in this area was in April 1962. What started out as a grass fire on Saunders Road (West Glens Falls) was driven by strong winds and an underestimation of the fire’s potential from the start, which caused the fire to spread over 720 acres of grass, brush and valuable timber. 15 homes were destroyed, 50 firemen were burned - 16 required treatment at the hospital while others were treated at the scene. 28 fire companies from Warren, Washington, Saratoga, Essex and Rensselaer counties joined the 5 Queensbury fire companies and the City of Glens Falls Fire Department in fighting the blaze. The Warren County Sheriff’s Department, the New York State Police, the Sheriff’s Patrol and the Civil Defense personnel assisted the Fire Police in keeping open fire lanes and residents and spectators out of danger. At one time, the fire front was estimated to be 4 miles wide. At its height, over 2000 men, women and teenagers battled the blaze. The National Red Cross designated the area a "Disaster Area".

With the construction of the Adirondack Northway (Interstate 87) in the early 1960s, and the population of Queensbury continuing to grow, a new station was needed to better serve our district. This lead to the construction of Station 2, located on Aviation Road, almost directly across the street from where the first meeting of the department took place 20 years prior. Construction on the 2nd station was completed in 1969 at a cost of $41,000 (equivalent of $298,000 in 2018 dollars) and was dedicated on November 2nd, 1969

Before pagers and radios, this is how we were alerted to calls. A 'relay system' comprised of members, in which one member would receive and emergency call on a fire phone in their house, then relay it to another member, until eventually every member of the department was alerted to the fire. One of these members would be tasked with going to the firehouse to set off the siren as another form of alerting.

J. Floyd Sleight breaking ground for our first station on Foster Avenue (Circa 1950, colorized 2019)

The ceremonious "ladder cutting" officially opened Station 2 on Aviation Road on November 2nd,1969

The Charter

This is a scan of the original minuets from the chartering of Queensbury Central, circa 1948

First Installation Banquet

The first installation banquet at Foster Ave. Notice that the walls are still unfinished and the wooden tables were hand built by the members. (Colorized 2019)

"The Fleet"

Tower One, Engine 316 and Engine 317 in front of the new station 1 on Lafayette street on August 17th, 1995

The firehouse on Foster Avenue. Used until 1989. (Colorized 2019)