By Karl Wick:

Chief Charlie Gaston standing next to the “Blitz Buggy” and George Winslow next to the tanker.

On February 18th 1930, Mr. Phil Fischer Sr. and Mr. P.J. Spohrer, with the support of some other residents formed the Saint Remy Engine Company No. 1 to provide fire protection to the inhabitants of the Saint Remy area. Before that time, the closest fire department was at Port Ewen and many parts of the town were totally unprotected from the ravages of fire.

The original Certificate

The first officers of the department were Chief Phil Fisher, Captain S.J. Spohrer, Lieutenant Kenneth Krom, Chairman W.L. VanVliet, Secretary Phil fisher Jr, and Treasurer Harry Havlin. These dedicated men raised monies and on the first day of June in 1930 purchased a Federal chemical engine. Members donated their time to construct a garage for the engine.

This first fire station was located near Buzdygan Lane on the “Rifton Road”, and the certificate of electrical inspection for the building is dated August 15, 1934. It lists Phil Fisher as Chief.

The department was completely supported by donations and fundraising for its first fifteen years. In 1938 the old Federal was replaced with a LaFrance Brockway chemical engine and, a year later, on the 29th of August, a “modern” American Lafrance 750 gallon per minute pumper (purchased from Engine Company 4 of the village of Valley Stream near New York City ) was added to the fleet. This truck came complete with an oil can, bell and mechanical siren. It probably carried only two or three hundred gallons of water, which was the standard at that time. The LaFrance turned out to be a great truck once it arrived at the scene, but it was geared for city streets and was rather slow climbing our many hills.
1924 Lafrance Pumper This truck is the 1924 American Lafrance Pumper.
Note the right-hand drive.

Bill of Sale

American LaFrance did not offer left-hand drive until 1929.
This was a chain drive pumper.

In 1944, because of increasing demand for fire protection throughout the Town and the high cost of equipment, the Saint Remy Fire Department was officially set up as a tax supported district. The other four Fire districts in the Town were set up as well.

At about that time, the Fire Commissioners purchased the former “Redmen’s” hall in the center of the hamlet and added on a garage. Saint Remy now had a real fire station with a community meeting hall.

Redmen’s Hall ca 1900

In 1952 the District purchased a new Federal pumper boasting a 500 gallon per minute pump and carrying 500 gallons of water. (In 1952 this was an unusually large amount of water, but then as now, our firefighters planned for the future and for the best protection of our residents.)

At the Port Ewen Parade ca 1971

As time went on, the population in the central part of the township grew and it soon became apparent that a second fire station was needed to provide proper protection to the many residents living in the Union Center area. Thus, in September of 1963 the Town board deeded a portion of the former Union Center School Property to the Fire District. On October 10th the following year a building to house fire apparatus was dedicated. It held three vehicles: A 1952 Jeep brush truck with a midship pump and a small water tank, a 1948 International tanker purchased from Clintondale for $1.00, and a 1953 Chrysler station wagon used to carry extra equipment. At this time, the main station in the village housed the 1952 Federal pumper and a 1939 Dodge tanker. The tanker was a converted oil truck and had been purchased in the late 1950’s. It was later replaced by a 1951 White tank truck. The new station and additional fire siren brought us many new members from Union Center.

In 1966 the old school house next to the new fire station was set ablaze by children and burned down. This was during the day and only a few men were around to hear the sirens. They managed to save the trucks and fire station with no damage. On September 6th, 1971 (on the site of the old school house) a block addition to the station was dedicated. It was built completely with donated labor.

Throughout the intervening years, Saint Remy has changed trucks a few times. Pumpers were purchased new in 1972, 1981 and 1991, and other vehicles such as tankers and utility trucks have been purchased as used and reconditioned by the firefighters.

Our 1997 fleet consisted of a 1981 GMC Pumper/Tanker with a 750 GPM pump and a 1500 gallon tank, and a medium rescue (carrying much needed auxiliary equipment for fires and rescues) at Station I, and a 1991 Peterbilt-Beck Pumper/Tanker with 1500 GPM pump and 1500 gallon tank and a 1972 Chevrolet Tanker holding 1600 gallons of water and a 350GPM pump at Station II.