The Long Ridge Association was formed in 1926 to benefit the community. The association was involved with many projects; one of the earliest was organizing school children to paint street signs. The association was incorporated in 1928 and at a July 4th picnic it was decided that fire protection would be added to the list of duties. The association was re-incorporated in 1930 as Long Ridge Fire Company, Inc.
At the July 4th picnic, two men from Westchester County demonstrated two model T ford trucks. The first truck was equipped with two 35-gallon chemical tanks, while the second and larger truck boasted two 40-gallon chemical tanks, a 32-foot ladder, brooms and pails. The members of the association raised enough money toward the purchase of the trucks and paid the men for both trucks that same day.
The next day, on July 5, 1928, 19 men met to form the company and name officers. Fred Smith was named Chief, Edward DeForest and Walton Scofield as Captains, Kenneth Miller and Bertram Williams as Lieutenants, and Hugo Shlatter as President. The other 13 members in attendance were: John J. DeForest, Victor Miller, Charles S. Horner Sr., Watson Horner, Louis Horner, Herbert Cooke, Raymond Turl, Alfred Nolan, Martin Nolan, William Foley, Bonfelio Preli, Benjamin Preli, and Angelo Preli.
The original alarm system consisted of two locomotive tires, which when struck with a hammer, could be heard from a great distance. One tire was stationed at Fallon’s Store on Old Long Ridge and Rock Rimmon Roads and the other at the Blacksmith’s Shop on Huntington Ridge Road and Old Long Ridge Road. One recorded instance of the alarm’s usage was for a Barn fire at Den Road and Long Ridge Road. J. King Hoyt, one of the members, spotted the fire and raced to the Blacksmith’s shop to sound the alarm.
Since the two Model T’s did not have a permanent home they were stored in several locations. The smaller truck was stored in a barn, which is now the dining room for the Long Ridge Tavern at 2635 Long Ridge Road. The truck was often jump started by rolling it down the hill. The larger truck was originally kept at the DeForest barn, but later moved to Fred Smith’s barn.
The first recorded fire occurred on Halloween Eve, 1928. Thirteen stacks of hay were ablaze on the Edmund Burke Farm on the West Side of Long Ridge Road, just south of Wildwood Road.
The chemical tanks on the trucks successfully saved a house on Riverbank Road, but many of the members wanted a real fire pumper. A committee was formed and received assistance from Bedford Village who had a 300 GPM Seagrave with a centrifugal pump, and Sound Beach Fire Department who had several Seagraves.
The committee met looked at several pumpers to replace one of the model T’s: Abrams – Fox which had a 600 GPM rotary gear pump, and an American La France 500 GPM gear pump on a GMC chassis. The committee wanted a centrifugal pump because of its better qualities. They contacted Seagrave and received a demonstration in Kent, CT where they saw a Seagrave pumping from a draft of 22-24 feet. The committee was pleased and bought the 1930 Seagrave 500 GPM. The pumper came with a price tag of $5,500. The company put $1,500 down with $800 a year for the next 5 years. To go with the new pumper, they also bought 1200 feet of 2 ½ inch hose from the Fabric Fire Hose in Sandy Hook, CT. The hose cost $1,200, or $400 a year for 3 years. A carnival was held as a fundraiser and with the revenue generated, the company was able to pay off its debts by the end of the year!
The Seagrave arrived in 1930 and was stored in Henry Crissey’s barn on the corner of Parsonage and Long Ridge Road. The members renovated the barn, reinforced the floor and put up a chimney.
The state of Connecticut determined in 1931 that all schools must have indoor toilet facilities. The Long Ridge School on Old Long Ridge Road couldn’t comply with the new mandate and was abandoned as a school. Members of the Fire Company were successful in obtaining a lease to the property from the Town government because there wasn’t a clear title. In 1932 and 1933, Edward Deforest, John DeForest, Charlie Walker (not a member) and other members donated their time to renovate the school. Class rooms were gutted, a hall was added upstairs, the cellar hollowed, a well dug and an oil fired steam-heating system was installed. They reinforced the floor and installed new toilets in the basement. All of the work was donated with the exception of a mason who was hired to plaster the hall.
In 1934, a compressor and two air horns were installed to replace the locomotive tire alarm.
The Stamford Fire department taught training sessions for the 5 volunteer fire departments, Long Ridge Fire Company, Turn of River Fire Department, Belltown Fire Department, Springdale Fire Company, and Glenbrook Fire Company. Two members from each department were present for 10 sessions, each 2 hours long. Those two members in turn conducted their own training sessions for the rest of the members in their department. Some special training sessions were held at the New Britain Teachers College; these lasted 5 days with morning, afternoon and evening sessions. Some men even trained downtown on weekends.
Prior to World War II, rumors were rampant about war and sabotage so members were assigned to stay at the firehouse to prevent damage. At the same time, the company replaced the remaining model T chemical tank with a 1940 Seagrave that delivered 500 GPM with a 150-gallon booster tank and 1500 feet of 1 ½ inch hose, the first in the area. The cost of the new engine was $6,500.
After the war, Mel Dicher joined the company and later became president. He received an unclear title for the school property from Mayor Quigley when the Town and City were consolidated in 1949. A court ruling said if no one claims the title within one year it would be handed over to the company. No one came forward and a clear title was presented to the Long Ridge Fire Company.
In 1950 a 750 GPM Seagrave with a 500-gallon booster tank was purchased to replace the 1930 model. The engine was also the first of its kind in the area. In the mid-fifties, plans were in progress for the building of our present fire station, which was built in 1956, with a cost of $115,000.
Until after the war, the company shared the City’s police radio system. After 1949, the two engines were known as units B and C on the city police radio. In late 1960, a base station was purchased, plus mobile radios and 25 home receivers, the beginning of the modern paging system. Shortly afterward, the Gabewell Alarm System was installed so the Riverbank School could be tied in. At the same time, there was talk of adding Signal Tender’s quarters to the area above the meeting hall. The idea fell through when neighbor Dean Kinaid offered the house to the north of the station for $25,000. The market price was $30,000, but he donated the difference to the fire company. In March of 1961 the house was occupied by Lew and Edna Horner who served as signal Tenders for 12 years.
The 60’s and 70’s brought a lot of progression for the company. After a bad series of fires in 1960, a Seagrave 750 GPM – 9003 was ordered and placed in service in 1961. A 30 KW generator was purchased in 1963. The generator provided enough power for the firehouse and adjacent houses. Another 750 GPM Seagrave was purchased in 1965 and an International scout with a plow was added to the fleet in 1968. More space was eventually needed in the station, so in 1969 a fourth bay was added. During the seventies, progress continued with the purchase of a 1000 GPM Seagrave Diesel and a second fire station was constructed at 2619 High Ridge Road in 1980.