Mount Vernon Fire Department.
MOUNT VERNON was incorporated as a village on December 13, 1851, with a population of 1,370. For two years and a half prior to this date the Home Industrial Association of New York had been actively engaged in selecting eligibly located property where its members could enjoy country homes. The energy and push shown by these early pioneers produced good results and seem to have been emulated by all who followed them. Among the first permanent improvements effected, as in all small communities, was the formation of a fire company, a rather primitive organization it must be admitted, but still indicative of a step in advance. This pioneer corps had its headquarters in every house in the village and was known as the “Bucket Brigade,” being governed by one rule: “When an alarm sounds, grab your fire bucket and run.”
This method worked well for a few years, but soon proved inadequate and on January, 22, 1856, it was decided to organize a hook and ladder ^company. A meeting of the taxable inhabitants was called and a vote taken to authorize the board of trustees to appropriate a sura sufficient to purchase the apparatus and equipments. The generous amount of $150 was ordered to be levied and collected, and on February I, 1856. the board of trustees appointed thirty citizcnsas active firemen. A truck was purchased February 28th, when the Clinton Hook and Ladder Company was organized. Drake P. Todd was elected foreman, and James O. Hunt, assistant.
The present truck company is well equipped, and its members are enthusiastic in their work. The recent addition of snap-harness and the stabling of horses in the rear of building reduces the time in responding to an alarm to a minimum. The company takes its name, not from Gov. Clinton, as many suppose, but from old” Clinton Engine No. 41” of New York city, many of whose ex-members were among the organizers of the Truck Company.
Of the ten chiefs who have commanded the Mount Vernon Fire Depirtraent, “Clinton” has furnished seven. The present headquarters of the company are side by side with Washington Engine Company, and the alarm bell on the tower of the building is owned jointly by the two companies. The company rooms are handsomely decorated with souvenirs, as well as a number of complimentary resolutions from the village of New Rochelle and other places ” Clinton ” has responded to outside calls for assistance. The company has monthly drills, and the discipline is as neatly perfect as it is possible for a volunteer company to be.
The Washington Engine Company was organized June 4, x86o, through the instrumentality of our veteran Chief W. J. Collins, the necessary money having been raised by public subscription on July 3, and the new engine was received with a grand parade and display of fireworks. This event was followed a short time later by the organization of the Protection Engine Company, and these three bodies for several years constituted the entire department.
With the growth to the village came a demand for improved fire service, and our Fire Patrol then took fourth position in line, to be followed soon by the Niagara Hose Company, whose efficient service our citizens have not been slow to recognize. On Feb. 14, i88g, the Steamer Company was organized with a membership of fourteen. Although commencing with little credit and a meagre treasury, it is now one of the most flourishing companies in the department. The first foreman was George S. Yale, of Vernon Park, and he was succeeded by Edwin W. Fiske, the present chief, who has worked hard and faithfully to bring the company up to its present high standard of discipline.
After the Steamer Company came the Independent Hose, organized through the work of First Assistant Chief Frederick Earl, who for several years held the position of foreman. The next addition to the department was the Central Hose Company, the credit for the organization of which is due to Assistant Chief Jewell. It owes much to his faithful services in its behalf. Columbia Hose Company No. 4 was the last to fall in line, and, although but recently organized, it has already attained a high standard of efficiency. Its officers are Frederick Drews, foreman; Peter Brogan, assistant foreman.
The first chief of the department was George R. Crawford, now president of the Westchester Fire Insurance Company, who was elected in September, 1877, serving one year. He was succeeded by William J, Collins, who filled the office three years, and after whom came in turn James Wilkinson and Charles P. Hick, each of whom served one year. William A. Anderson succeeded Mr. Hick and remained in office two years. After Mr. Anderson’s retirement the office was filled by the following gentlemen in the order named: W. H. Van Arsdale and Edson Lewis, who served one year each; Theodore Taylor and Elias G. Pease who served two years each, and the present efficient Chief, Edwin W. Fiske, who is now entering on his third term.
Before the introduction of the Gameweli fire alarm system, all alarms were sounded on the old fire-bell purchased by the Clinton Hook and Ladder Company and Washington Engine Company, and on the school bell on the old Fourth Avenue school house. This primitive system of alarm, if system it can be called, was, as may be imagined, unsatisfactory. The mode of operation was to ring the bells until some members of the company arrived, when the apparatus would be taken out and an aimless search for the fire commenced.
But now all that is changed and no such delays as those entailed by the old system ever occur. The method now in use is complete and satisfactory in every detail.
The discipline and efficiency of the Mount Vernon Fire Department is universally conceded, and it ranks to-day with the best service in the state.
The present department consists of one truck company and steamer, one fire patrol, two hand engines, six hose companies, four of which have the latest improved Gleason & Bailey’s hose wagons, with Hale’s patent snap harness.
The department is governed by the following board of fire commissioners : President, Frank G. Bruce; secretary, A. W. Wallender, and treasurer, J. N. Lockhart. The officers of the department are : Chief engineer, Edwin W. Fiske; first assistant, Fred. Earl; second assistant, William Jewell, and treasurer, John H. Cordes.
Edwin W. Fiske, is the present chief of the Fire Department. He was born in Shamokin, Pa., July 17, 1861. After acquiring a good education he was placed with the Pennsylvania Steel Works of Harrisburg, Pa., where he became a first class mechanic.
Mr. Fiske moved to Mount Vernon eight years agoand immediately interested himself in public affairs. Shortly after his arrival, Steamer Company No. 1, of Mount Vernon was formed, Mr. Fiske becoming, after a short period, its foreman. This office he filled for a period of three years with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of all. when he was elevated to the high position he now adorns, chief of the fire department. In addition to being a member of the Common Council of the City, Mr. Fiske is president of the Firemen’s Benevolent Association of Mount Vernon, a member of the State Firemen’s Association, and also of the National Association of Fire Engineers of the United States, of which body he is vice-president from the State of New York.
As evidence of the popularity of Mr. Fiske it may be stated that he received a unanimous nomination at the hands of the Democratic City Convention last May for the office of Mayor to which office it was claimed he was subsequently elected.
Frederick Earl,First Assistant Engineer, has been connected with the Fire Department of Mount Vernon for fourteen years, and has held the office of foreman and secretary of Washington Engine Company, and also was one of the organizers of the Independent Hose Company, and held the office of foreman of same until elected to his present position. He is also a member of the State Firemen’s Association and First Vice-President of the Firemen’s Benevolent Association of Mount Vernon.
William Tewell. Second Assistant Engineer of the Fire Department of Mount Vernon, is now serving his second term He was one of the organizers of Central Hose Company, No. x, and was its foreman for two years, until elected to his present position.
An oil tank in a warehouse of the Standard Oil Company at Canton, Md., exploded last Sunday night causing a loss bv fire of about $400,000. The flames spread rapidly, the burning oil carrying the fire to the adjoining property. The entire block was destroyed.
A fire in the foundry of the Morgan Iron Works Company at New London, Conn., Friday of last week seriously damaged that building and at one time threatened the safety of the United States Torpedo boat Ericsson, which was tied to the wharf a short distance away. A cold northwest wind was blowing and after two hours hard work by the firemen the fire was subdued in time to save the adjoining buildings and numerous vessels moored in the vicinity. The Ericsson had been taken there for the winter. Preparations were made to tow her to a place of safety should the fire spread. Parts of the torpedo boat’s machinery was stored in the second floor of the machine shop, adjoining the foundry, and it was transferred.