The Birth of the Cheshire Fire Dept.
The Birth of the Cheshire Fire Department
From the memory of Andrew Burt
It all started with discussions, at one of the grocery stores, on the various experiences in the area with the fire protection we were getting. I had related to the incidence that I had, when in March of 1945, during some heavy winds, part of our chimney for the furnace blew down. We called the fire department for aid. After what seemed forever, the fire truck arrived. They sent one man, the driver, to handle the emergency (That was what the contract with the Town required). Lucky for us, it wasn't a fire. After a period of several discussions, many of us agreed, we needed our own fire department.
Now the work really started. We had to investigate, what was needed to organize the company. And did we have a lot to learn. There was a lot of red tape that we were not aware of. One of our first tasks, was to come up with a set of bylaws. We formed a committee for the task. The committee decided, it might be best to get copies of bylaws from some of the more rural fire departments, for we were truly novices. After many months of study and discussion, we had our bylaws. Our next job was to get our legal status* and in due time we accomplished that. We were now the "Chesnire Fire Department. "
In the meanwhile, work had begun on the old fire house. ** It had been neglected for many years and fallen into disrepair. One of our first concerns was the foundation wall. The west wall had pretty much fallen out and the others were in need of major repairs. The floor, where we would park the fire truck, was hardly capable of holding the old chemical cart. We had our work cut out for us and no money. But we were up to the challenge and determined to have our own fire department, so we worked from 7:00 P.M. until it was too dark to see, several nights a week. All the original members pitch in. **** (As I look back, the cooperation was great. No one person or group tried to run things. We all pulled together. No egos got in the way. We really believed in our cause.)
We put on bingo games (at the Grange Hall) and raised maybe ten to fifteen dollars for our nights effort. But it was money and that's what we needed. ( That doesn't sound like much today, but at the time it bought a lot of material) Soon our efforts started to show. Our spirits got a boost and we knew we had crossed another hurdle. We had the fire house ready for our truck. But there was only one problem. We needed to buy a truck but we didn't have the money. We had no prospect of getting help from the Town of Canandaigua. We formed a three man committee to find a truck. *** We shopped around for an old fire truck, but we just couldn't come up with that kind of money. But instead of giving up, we decided we would build our own fire truck. We found a 1936 Brockway bakery truck and raised three hundred fifty dollars, by donations, from some of our members. We had our truck (bakery truck that is ). We were fortunate to have so many talented people among us. The truck was stripped down and we designed and built our own custom fire truck. ***
Next we turned our attention to, how we could fiance our department. Because it was too late in the year to have a fireman's carnival, we decided to put on a clam bake. It turned out to be quite a success. It brought in our first real money.
In the spring of the next year, we set a date for our first "Cheshire Fireman's Carnival and Parade". We invited all the Fire Companies, in about a 20 to 25 mile area. A good number accepted our Invitation. We had a real success under way. It became our financial base for Department for many years. Our "Fireman's Carnival" became the 'premiere fireman's carnival' for many years to follow. We had a great following, and we showed them our appreciation, by putting on a great fireworks display every year. People came from all over, and came back year after year.
From then on, it has been a period of steady progress. Today, we have one of the most modern and efficiently equipped fire departments in the area. As members, past and present and the citizens of the Cheshire area, we can share the credit for the fire department's progress, and the excellent protection provided, by having our own department.
Charter Members of Cheshire Fire Department
R. (Sands) Mullen
C. P. Violas
* The legal work was provided by, an attorney from Naples at a very reasonable fee.As I recall, he charged us only for the expenses connected with the transaction. I'm sorry, but I don't remember his name, but it must be on the incorporation documents.
**Howard Kester headed the group that did the masonry work.
**Hank Ellis headed the group that did the carpenter work.
**Don Reed headed the group that did the electrical work.
**Warren Hook, Wesley Collins and Andrew Burt, on the committee to find a truck.
**Bucky Bancroft headed the group that checked out the truck mechanisms. *
**Fran Bancroft headed the group that designed and built the truck.
** Howard Keeney donated the sheet steel and welding supplies for the truck.
**All the Members served as laborers when and where needed .