HISTORY OF THE TROY, N.Y. FIRE DEPARTMENT
| ||On January 5, 1789 a
group of freeholders met at Ashley’s Tavern
and changed the name of ‘Ashley’s Ferry’,
their recently settled community on the banks of
the Hudson River, to Troy. By 1791 Troy became a
town, and in the same year the larger Village of
Lansingburgh to Troy’s north purchased a ‘Philadelphia’
style hand engine. |
All was generally well in the small town called Troy
until the afternoon of October 6, 1793 when fire destroyed
14 houses and stores. This loss stirred the citizens
of Troy into action, Subael Gorham was appointed Superintendent
of the settlement's fire hooks, axes and ladders, and
an act of the New York State Legislature compelled the
citizens to purchase buckets and firefighting tools.
A second fire at the NW corner of State and River Streets
in Asa Anthony’s Store, during the early hours
of December 12, 1797, spread and destroyed the hardware
store of Benjamin Heart. Early the next year Troy incorporated
into a Village and purchased a Newsham style hand engine
from a New York dealer. It arrived on a Hudson River
sloop and was housed in a small wooden building to the
south of the courthouse. In 1799 a narrow shed to house
the village hooks and ladders was erected in the center
of State Street.
A second engine company, Neptune Engine No. 2 was organized
in 1803 and housed on the NW corner of State and Third
Streets. A large fire which started at midnight March
18, 1810 destroyed an entire block of business buildings
on the east side of River St. from Congress St. to State
St. Mutual aid was utilized for the first time with
help from the villages of Lansingburgh and Waterford.
In 1812 a third engine company, the Washington Volunteers,
purchased an engine capable of taking ‘suction’
from a cistern or other standing water source through
a hose, a great improvement on the earlier engines which
had to be supplied by a bucket brigade in order to pump
water through their deck mounted nozzle. Rapid growth
of the Village resulted in Troy’s incorporation
as a city on April 12, 1816, population at this time
By 1820 Troy had grown to 5,623 and was the 35th largest
city in the U.S. The same year, on June 20, a devastating
fire destroyed 69 stores and dwellings and 21 outbuildings
along River and First Streets. This small conflagration
caused a new flurry of fire control effort resulting
in the purchase of two new engines and the formation
of Hook and Ladder Company No. 1. During the 1820’s
the new city suffered few fires but the 11 or 12 fires
occurring during the decade did cause great loss.
By 1830 Troy had grown to 11,556 residents, and was
the 19th largest city in the U.S. Fast becoming an industrial
city due to it’s iron production, Troy lost its
first rolling mill, that of the Troy Iron and Nail Co.,
located on the Wynantskill to fire on January 10, 1831
when a fire being used to thaw out the company’s
water wheel spread. The night of January 25, 1834 saw
the first use of a fire hydrant on the City’s
new system when the Franklin House Hotel at Fulton and
Third Streets suffered heavy damage in a 2 AM fire.
The City lost it’s first firefighter in the line
of duty on January 10, 1835 when simultaneous fires
destroyed the Read, Armstrong and Co. Brewery at Ferry
and Fifth Sts. and Brittnell’s Soap and Candle
Factory, 411- 421 River St. Clark W. Segmann and possibly
some other firefighters died from cold exposure on this
–18 degree night. The decade saw the formation
of a number of engine companies, hose companies and
two additional hook and ladder companies.
Having long rung the church bells for alarms of fire,
on December 7, 1843, an ordinance was enacted dividing
the City into three fire districts with the number of
the district with the fire to be rung. No. 1 was south
of Congress St., No. 2 between Congress and Elbow (now
Fulton) St. and No. 3 north of Elbow St. This was supposed
to indicate an approximate location of the alarm for
the firefighters, but in practice the policeman or sexton
at the bell rope was not often able to ring a distinct
1, 2, or 3 possibly due to overexcitement.
On August 25, 1854 at 1 PM Troy suffered its greatest
fire to date when over 100 buildings in 8 city blocks
south of Division St. along the riverfront burned. The
destruction of a number of industries and lumberyards
raised the loss from this fire to a total of $ 1,000,000,
a great deal of money at that time. With the city averaging
between 50 and 75 fires per year, and suffering a great
deal of drunkenness and fighting among the volunteer
companies, several influential citizens began to promote
the adoption of steam power to pump water and paid firefighters
to operate the equipment.
| ||In 1860 the Arba Read Steam Fire
Engine Co. No. 1 was formed. A steam pumper was
purchased from the Amoskeag Co. of Manchester, N.H.
A fully paid engineer was hired to operate this
highly technical piece of equipment, but volunteers
were still heavily relied upon. |
The engine proved practical and soon two more Amoskeags
were purchased, one later that year and a third in 1862.
On May 10th 1862 Troy suffered its greatest loss by
fire. A spark from a locomotive ignited a covered wood
railroad bridge to Center Island, and a strong west
wind drove the fire into Troy and by evening 508 buildings
had been destroyed and at least 8 persons lost their
lives. The financial loss was $3.9 million dollars.
Troy installed a new Gamewell Fire Alarm system in
late 1868 and placed the system in service on March
25, 1869. Alarms were rung on fire station gongs and
the bells of several city churches.
Troy’s last hand engine was replaced with a steamer
in April 1882 when Hope Steam Fire Engine Co. No. 7
| ||The Village of Lansingburgh
was annexed by Troy on January 1, 1901. By 1906
the city had 1119 volunteers and 61 career firefighters.
On May 7, 1908 Truck 2 was formed as the city’s
first fully paid company. Engine 14 became the first
fully paid engine company on February 2, 1912. |
The following year a Knox Chemical-Hose Wagon stationed
with E-8 became the City’s first piece of motorized
fire apparatus. By 1917 the downtown truck (3) and Engine
8 were motorized Seagraves. 1917 also saw the loss of
two firefighters and a battalion chief as the result
of an ammonia explosion during a River St. grocery warehouse
fire. Chief of Department Patrick Byron died 53 weeks
later as a result of injuries suffered in the same explosion.
A squad company was organized on July 8, 1919 and outfitted
with a new motorized Seagrave chemical wagon.
| ||On January 23, 1922, by act of the
City Council, all remaining volunteer companies
were disbanded, the TFD was now a fully paid department.
On November 1, 1923 a second platoon was formed,
firefighters worked a 10 and 14 hour schedule for
a short time. |
In the summer of 1924 the last of the horse drawn
engines and trucks were replaced by motorized apparatus.
A third platoon was formed on January 1, 1959 allowing
Troy’s firefighters a 56 hour workweek. Also in
1959 the fire alarm telegraph system was removed and
replaced with telephone boxes. On February 4, 1973 a
fourth platoon was formed, reducing the firefighters
workweek to 40 hours. The telephone boxes were removed
from the street corners on February 15, 1982. April
1st 1981 saw the TFD take over emergency medical response
in the city and on October 9, 1995 emergency medical
transport was taken over by the TFD.