Men Who Served as Chief of The Thornwood Fire Company
"The History of The Thornwood Fire Department Is A Rich and Colorful One"
Over A Century Ago, in what was known as Sherman Park, a group of men got together and decided that organized fire protection was needed. This was due to the growth in the community, thus forming the Sherman Park Fire Company.
The original Sherman Park firehouse was a one bay garage located at the west side of Manhattan Avenue near Hancock Place, across from the former Holy Rosary Church property. This area today has been converted to a residential neighborhood. Housed within this facility was a hand pump, the first and only piece of firefighting equipment, which is still in existence today. Pike poles and hand pails rounded out the inventory. The hand pump, mounted on a trailer, was drawn by hand from place to place, with a rope for the firefighters to grasp.
in 1907, eight years after the formation of the Sherman Park Fire Company, a group of men formed what is now known as the Hawthorne Fire Company. This caused the Sherman Park Fire Company to change their name to Thornwood Fire Company No. 1.
As the community grew and motorized equipment came into use, the first piece of motorized apparatus was purchased in 1917. It was a Ford chassis with a special body for use as a fire truck. The Model T was shipped unassembled via the railroad. Members of the Fire Company assembled it in no time. When assembly was complete, firefighter Charles Fischer went to the Ford builders where the necessary hook-up to pull the hand pump was installed. The 1917 Ford Model T is still one of the oldest operating pieces of firefighting equipment in the State of New York. It was restored in the early 1990's by Heritage Restorations in Pawling, New York. This was made possible by major fund raisers and took over two years to complete the project. The "T" is the centerpiece of our apparatus decals, banners, and patches proudly worn by the firefighters today.
As Thornwood began to grow in size and population, an additional firehouse was necessary. At the same time, the School District was in need of a new school. The Thornwood Fire Department purchased the old school building which would become their new firehouse. This would be located at the corner of Commerce Street and Edwin Street. This project was done at the Fire Departments expense, with assistance from voluntary contributions made to the department. The members of the department worked day and night to build a new foundation which would receive the old school building. This building exists today next to Casa Rina Restaurant and can be identified by the bell tower on top of the building.
Records show that another Fire Company existed on Franklin Avenue called the Pioneer Fire Company. Past records are not that clear as to their history. Both departments were operated independently under the direction of a captain and two lieutenants each. Monies to operate the two departments were raised through donations, membership dues, and fund raisers. Despite these efforts, the funds raised were not sufficient due to the purchase of two pumpers, protective clothing for the men, and additional firefighting equipment. In 1932, the Thornwood Fire District was formed in order to raise the much needed funds through taxes. At this time, the Thornwood Fire Company donated it's property, building, trucks, and other equipment to the newly formed Fire District. The First Meeting of the Board of Fire Commissioners was held on February 10, 1932. The Board appointed William McManus as the first chief of the Thornwood Fire District.
In 1963, the present firehouse was built at 770 Commerce Street. This land was donated to the Thornwood Fire Company in the early 1900's by the Masbeck Family. It is a modern building capable of housing 5 pieces of apparatus. The apparatus housed at this location today includes a 2005 Peirce Rescue Pumper, a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado, a 1986 Pierce Pumper, a 1991 Pierce Pumper, and a 1998 Sutphen Tower Ladder.
In 1982, a group of eight teenagers formed the Thornwood Fire Department Fire Corps. This group was formed in an attempt to attract younger people into community service. Their purpose was to assist the firefighters when the call of duty arose. We are proud to say that many of our best firefighters came through the Fire Corps, and still continues today.
Presently, there are 65 active volunteer firefighters serving in the Thornwood Fire Co. No. 1. Volunteer service to the community is a proud tradition indicated by the number of families serving in the department. There are over 14 families within the department and one family represents four generations of service, three of which have served as Chiefs and Commissioners.
Since the birth of the department, the job of firefighters everywhere has changed to include not only fire protection, but also automobile extrication and rescue operations. In order to achieve these goals, the department purchased many pieces of advanced equipment, such as the Lucas Extrication Tool, the Vetter Rescue Air Bag, two Rescue Boats, and state of the art bunker gear. Our newest Technological device is the Bullard Thermal Imaging Camera. This is the only thermal imaging camera in this area.* All of these improvements have been put into service to make the Thornwood Fire Company No. 1, one of the most progressive fire companies in the area.
*indicates that this statement has since changed over the years.