Friday, August 31, 2012

Inwood Fire Department at 125 years

Long before there was a "Five Towns,"  residents of The Branch formed fire companies to protect their property.  In the days before the introduction of electricity minimized the risk from coal stoves and open fireplaces, fire was a constant threat to safety.  Since wooden buildings were far more common than brick structures, a neighbor's fire might quickly turn into a community's disaster.

On January 19, 1887, at a  meeting in the Lord Avenue cottage of  Edward Rhinehart and his wife, plans were made for the organization of a fire company for their community, which was then called Westville.  At that meeting, the Electric Hook and Ladder Company was created.  A year later, when a post office was established, the community was renamed Inwood.  A second company, the Citizen Hose and Engine Company, was formed in 1902 by some of the younger members of Electric Hook and Ladder Company.

The first Inwood firehouse (above) was crowned by an observation tower so fires might be spotted before they became a problem.

Members Edward Archibald and Frank Parise have produced a comprehensive history of the department.  Their work spotlights development in Inwood's firefighting community from its inception through the events of September 11, 2001.

Part of the comaraderie of fire companies has always been the drill competitions.  Here the "Mud Ducks," Inwood's drill team (above), excelled early in their history.  Only three years after their founding, Citizen Hose and Engine Company took first place in the 1905 Southern New York Tournament.

Archibald and Parise also mention that Inwood still holds the World's Record (established in 1919) for the horse drawn hose contest.

The early years were punctuated by the purchase of the first motorized apparatus (1917) and the construction in 1926 of a new fire headquarters, erected on the northeast corner of Wanser and Doughty Boulevard (above).  The building was extended in 1952 and an annex built in 1984.  The years that followed have seen improvements in equipment and communications, but the dedication shown by the members of our local fire departments have always set the highest standards.  We salute you all.

Further reading:,42586

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