A SHORT HISTORY OF THE MARGARETVILLE FIRE DEPARTMENT
Originally compiled by Glenn Gavette
Sometime shortly prior to September 30, 1887, a meeting of interested individuals was held to bring about the first organized firefighting unit in Margaretville. It was through the urging of Dr. J.H. Banker, that this meeting was held. Thus, he is considered to be the founder of the Margaretville Fire Department. The organization was named the Thomas Winter Hook and Ladder Company.
The second meeting of the Company was held September 30, 1887. At this meeting, a resolution was passed calling for the Village Trustees to pass an ordinance organizing a fire department and asking the village to appropriate funds for the same.
There was no further meeting until June 3, 1890. At this meeting, for some unknown reason it was moved to change the name of the Company. On the sixth ballot the name Excelsior Hook and Ladder was chosen.
Meanwhile on March 25, 1890, a meeting was held to organize a Hose Company. The name chosen for this company was Pakatakan Hose Company. Around the end of 1890, the Village purchased the first vehicle for fire fighting, a hand drawn Hose Cart at the cost of $120.
The treasury of these companies was established through loans from the members, to be repaid when the individual companies could see their way clear to repay them. Weekly drills were held by each Company to train the men.
Until 1897, these Companies were entirely separate from each other, each governing itself. In 1897, the Margaretville Fire Department was formed to act as a governing body for these two companies and to coordinate their efforts and activities. Until this time the Foreman of these Companies had been responsible to no one. Now they maintained charge of the men in their respective companies, but they in turn were responsible to the Chief of the Fire Department, who in return was responsible to the Village Board.
In February of 1900, the Department held its first annual banquet. It was primarily a moneymaking project, open to the public. Two hundred ninety-two suppers were served at $.25 per person. In 1901, 431 were served, and in 1902, 440 were served, attesting to the popularity of the affair.
In 1900 the Department had 48 active members. Twenty six of these were in Excelsior Hook & Ladder Company and 22 in the Pakatakan Hose Company.
From April 1900 until October 1902 the Department answered no calls.
Since its inception, the Department has always been active in county and state fire organizations. It first joined the Volunteer Firemen’s Association of New York State in 1891 and joined the Delaware County Firemen’s Association in 1899 when it was organized. It has been active in both organizations since.
In 1923, the Village purchased the Larrabee pumper. At this time it was moved to disband the Excelsior Hook & Ladder Company of 36 years and the Pakatakan Hose Company of 34 years and form one company to be known henceforth as the Margaretville Fire Department, Engine Company No. 1.
In 1937, the Village contracted with the newly formed outside District, which covered most of the Town of Middletown and part of the Town of Hardenburgh, in Ulster County, for coverage. This Fire Protection District furnished the Fire Department with two International Pumpers. In 1948, with funds raised by the members of the department, the International Emergency truck was purchased. In 1952, the 25-year-old Larrabee was replaced with a 1952 Dodge pumper. In 1958, one of the outside District pumpers was replaced with a Mack pumper. In 1967, the other outside District pumper was replaced with a John Bean High Pressure fire fighter on a four-wheel drive International chassis, keeping the Margaretville Fire Department one of the most up to date fire fighting organizations in the County.
By 2016 the Margaretville Fire Department had over 55 members. They respond to an average of 125-150 calls per year. Many of these calls are to set up landing zones for Medevac helicopters in support of Margaretville Hospital.
The Margaretville Fire Department and its members would like to thank the Margaretville Hospital Auxiliary and its Board of Directors for this prestigious honor.