Fires during the early winter months of 1925 in Halfmoon and Crescent causing a tragic loss of two lives resulted with the realization that residents were powerless to save them.
Aroused by the helplessness, residents of the community set the wheels in motion to organize a fire department in order to protect themselves and their property.
On April 13, 1925, 19 public-spirited residents met at the Halfmoon District No. 1 schoolhouse to formally organize the Halfmoon Volunteer Fire Company.
The 19 men spearheading the formation of this unit were Jared Clark, Charles Clute, Edward Faulkner, Stephen Faulkner, Milton Frigheit, Warren Green, Earl Groat, Randall Lasher, Raymond Lasher, Tom Dwyer, Burton Rice, Arthur Sabourin, Cornell Sickler, Harold Smith, Lloyd Taylor, Wellington Vickery, Lowell Vickery, Abraham Walker, and Peter Woodin.
Following preliminary discussion, the group named a chairman and took up a collection totaling $100.00 for use as operating funds.Â They then elected the following men to serve as the first officers: President Milton Freight; Vice President, Peter Woodin; Captain, Earl Groat; Assistant Captain, Arthur Sabourin; Secretary, Lloyd Taylor; Treasurer, Harold Smith.
The next order of business was adopting a suitable name and functioning as a duly organized company; holding regular meetings, contacting residents for financial assistance, and putting on fundraising suppers, etc. Initiation of these efforts resulted in the involvement of a great deal of time, planning and shear hard work; ultimately leading to the successful organization of the first fire department for the community.
Cornell S. Hawley, a prominent Albany businessman and a native of Halfmoon, who once served as Secretary to United States President Grover Cleveland, presented the fledgling firefighting unit with a donation of $250.00 to help it overcome its financial burdens. As a tribute to his generosity, the company was renamed C.S. Hawley Chemical Company.
A short time later Charles Clute donated a vacant lot in the village to the company, and with the donation of free labor, the only expense to be faced was for materials to construct a firehouse. A building was built and a 50-gallon chemical tank, mounted on a tow-wheel cart, was purchased. The company was ready to fight fires.
All through the latter half of the twenties, these dedicated pioneers gave unselfishly of themselves in both time and money to provide an effective fire protection system to some 175 homes that were in Fire District No. 1. Today there are more than 7,000 homes served in the district.
In 1930, the company continued its forward thrust purchasing a new "Model A" Ford chassis from John Newton, local Ford dealer in Crescent. From here on and all through the 1930s, the company was truly equipped and capable of fighting fires. The community showed its appreciation for its fire company by supporting its many fundraisers.
Prior to the establishment of the fire district, which now covers 26 square miles, within the Towns of Halfmoon and Waterford, the community decided to drop the C.S. Hawley Chemical Company name in favor of the Halfmoon Fire Company, Inc.
In 1948, a fire truck was purchased and the company financed it as it had all other equipment until the establishment of the fire district. Named as the first Fire Commissioners were William Connerty Sr., Orvil Dunham, and Perry Pelkey.
In 1955, the land on which our present firehouse is located was purchased from Charles Kilmer. Great progressive strides were made until 1960 when the Fire Company gained the approval of a bond issue for a new firehouse and pumper. Delivery of a new modern Ford truck was accepted in 1961, and a move to our new firehouse took place in the fall of the same year.
In 1965, a 1500 gallon Ford tanker was purchased. This equipment was backed up by a 1952 Ford Tanker.
In 1974, a new firehouse was built on Route 32 at the lower part of the fire district to help serve the needs of a fast growing community.
In all these progressive years, the company maintained their leadership in the community sponsoring one of the largest Cub Scout packs in Saratoga County, and Boy Scout Troop 36, along with sponsorship of local youth athletics, and participating in local and civil affairs. The company is also proud to be part of the Saratoga County Air Bank, Southern Section.
In 1980 the Junior Firemen were started and proved a great success.
In 1981, it was a momentous occasion when women finally were accepted into the fire department. In noting this achievement, the company reminds one and all that it has not forgotten those women who were the "original firefighters" during World War II. These valiant women gave their support to continue quality fire protection for the community while their men were away fighting a war, and the company here and now acknowledges that dedication with the deepest of gratitude.
In 1988, with the rapid growth of our community, the voters approved a $500,000 bond issue which included a 40'x56' two story expansion of the main station, a new truck and new equipment. Two bays were added and improvements to the grounds including pavement of the roadways.
In the late 1980s, and early 1990s, the population in Halfmoon continued to grow at a rapid rate. New housing developments were being built. Bishop Howard Hubbard Apartments - a home for senior citizens - brought a new challenge for fire fighting. Pre-plan, mass casualty, and evacuation became a significant concern in our training program. Mutual aid cooperation and coordination between fire, ambulance, and emergency services generated training programs in which Halfmoon Fire Department participated enthusiastically.
In 1991, E32-1 became our newest attack vehicle. This 1991 Pierce has a 1250 pump with a 500-gallon tank. This also has a 6-man cab, built-in generator, and a 40-gallon foam tank. The truck is designed to carry extra air bottles since Halfmoon serves as an Air Bank.
"Jaws of Life" - a 1991 Lucas tool in E32-1 provided a new approach to extricating victims from vehicles. A second set placed on E32-2 was portable and lightweight, allowing us to bring the "jaw" to the scene without restrictions. This meant that we could use them in buildings or hard to reach confined areas.
In 1990, we established a First Responder program for the Halfmoon Fire District. This program is currently being serviced with Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), First Responders, and CPR qualified firemen. MED 32-4, a Ford station wagon was put into service. The First Responder program has increased our calls by 1/3. Today basic life support function continues to provide excellent service to our residents.
The old jewel of our fleet is the 1967 brush truck F32-6. Fully rehabilitated in 1993, this four-wheel drive gets us where we need to go off road. This old truck is multi-functional and serves Halfmoon and neighboring fire districts just like our senior firefighters - with experience and dependability.
In 1994, a traffic light was installed in front of the main station for emergency equipment to get in and out of the bays faster. We respond to an average of 400 calls a year.
In 1995, our baseball field was dedicated to John Ceramuga Sr. who dedicated over 55 years of service.
In 1997, we received a grant from Senator Joseph Bruno's office to purchase a boat for water rescue. We purchased a 24 foot Sea Ark with 150 HP motor. Training began, and the boat is used for ice and water rescue on the Hudson and Mohawk rivers.
In 1999, we replaced Station 2 on Route 32 with a new modern station. Truck ETA 32-3 was replaced with a new Ferrara 1250 pump 1000-gallon tank. We added a light tower to ER32-1 for lighting of scenes. Also added was 3 AEDs to the chiefs' vehicles to better enhance the response to cardiac calls, and a portable Hurst Combi tool for auto extrication.
We received a grant, once again, from Senator Bruno's office for equipment. We plan on using it to purchase 2 more AEDs and voice amplifiers for air masks.
Halfmoon Fire Department acknowledges those who have served the community with dedication and commitment. We remember all those who no longer answer the call. We salute our current members, and the members of the Ladies Auxiliary for their dedication. The department continues to train and work toward saving he lives and property of our residents.