- Fire Department
- History of the Fire Department
History of the Fire Department
The Newburgh Fire Department. 216 years of Courage, Duty, and Sacrifice
Newburgh's Fire Department is one of the oldest chartered departments in New York State being established by an act of the young state legislature on March 24, 1797. It held its first organizational meeting of the five citizen-elected fire department trustees on September 11, 1797.
In March 1889, the city purchased and installed a modern electric telegraph fire alarm system with 23 alarm boxes placed around the city.
In 1897 the Fire Department celebrated its first one hundred years of service to the Newburgh community. While there was ample cause for celebration, the firemen had suffered an unfortunate loss the year before.
The earliest Newburgh fire companies were the Protection Engine Company, Cataract Engine Co., Washington Engine Co., and Empire Hook & Ladder.
The next innovation, in 1894, was the acquisition of fire horses to pull the hose wagons. Men had pulled the engines and hose carts by hand, and it was not unusual for a man to be injured or even run over by a wheel.
First Steam Engine
The department purchased its first steam engine in 1872. In its inaugural test, the engine threw a stream of water over the top of the cross of St. Patrick's Church, 161 feet high, to the delight of the citizens watching.
To encourage young men to enter the fire service in the 1890s, James Chadwick, the president of Lawson Hose, and Ralph Weston, the company's foreman, initiated a junior fire company called Lawson Junior Hose.
Motorized Fire Trucks
As horses were phased out of service, Ringgold Hose on Colden Street was the first of Newburgh's companies to get a motorized fire truck in 1907.
There is good reason for a city the size and configuration of Newburgh to be mindful about fire protection. Newburgh has suffered some devastating and spectacular fires.
With its long avenues and scenic vistas out to the Hudson River, Newburgh was often the site for regional firemen's parades.
In 1934, the volunteer companies disbanded, and a professional department was instituted by resolution of the City Council.