The Civil War took many of Newburgh's firemen into service. A "war notice" is on record from Fire Chief Leonard in 1862 ordering the companies to comply with state law and give to the village clerk a list of all members between the ages of 18 and 45, or they would be drafted and sent off with the New York National Guard.
The village grew and incorporated as a full-fledged city in 1865, and further protection was needed. 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.
Other companies continued to use hand pumpers to throw water onto fires. That became a problem on June 9, 1873, when the entire block along the river between Third and Fourth streets burned down, causing the loss of a warehouse, barge, dock, lumber yard, carpenter shop and coal yards totaling $113,000 in value. The department added more steam to powered pumpers.