Greenwood Lake Volunteer Fire Department

Greenwood Lake Fire District

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Department History

The end of the Civil War marked the beginning of an era of palatial lakeside homes and grand European-style hotels in Greenwood Lake. The Erie Railroad, which had a line and depot on the lake's East Shore, published brochures advertising thirty lakeside vacation resorts along with lots for sale in the "nucleus of a future village."


Many came to Greenwood Lake for a vacation and stayed to build a home. 


By the 1880's, the need for fire protection was obvious and a bucket brigade known as the Pioneer Fire Company was formed. Equipment was primitive. Buckets were donated and huge locomotive wheels were used to sound the alarm.


It needed a strong arm to swing the sledgehammer hanging beside the steel wheel or to hand water-filled buckets on the line. The arrangement was not satisfactory.


In March 1923, a notice was published in the Greenwood Lake Buzzer: "Anyone interested in fire protection for this area, please attend the meeting in Good Shepherd." Only 14 men attended that first meeting, but by March 23, 1923, the Greenwood Lake Fire Department was officially organized with 56 charter members.


Jacob C. Deer was elected chief. Frank Conklin and William Utter were assistant chiefs and other officers were Emil R. Juengling, President; Harry J. Sudman, Secretary and Wilbur Conklin, Treasurer.


Until 1924, the new fire company relied on donations and benefit performances to raise money for the necessary equipment. When the Village of Greenwood Lake was incorporated, the volunteer fire department voted to become part of the village government. The firehouse was completed just in time for the first official village meeting in March 1924. Early newspaper reports show that a primary concern in preparing that first village budget was in estimating the proper amount of fire hose to buy.


 In 1927, with the number of fires increasing, it was found necessary for one man from the company to be assigned to traffic control. This was the first step toward the forming, on October 11, 1935, of the Greenwood Lake fire police which today has grown to six members.


It needed a strong arm to swing the sledgehammer hanging beside the steel wheel or to hand water-filled buckets on the line. The arrangement was not satisfactory.


In March 1923, a notice was published in the Greenwood Lake Buzzer: "Anyone interested in fire protection for this area, please attend the meeting in Good Shepherd." Only 14 men attended that first meeting, but by March 23, 1923, the Greenwood Lake Fire Department was officially organized with 56 charter members.


Jacob C. Deer was elected chief. Frank Conklin and William Utter were assistant chiefs and other officers were Emil R. Juengling, President; Harry J. Sudman, Secretary and Wilbur Conklin, Treasurer.


From that inauspicious beginning, the equipment inventory had grown to: two 1948 Mack open-cab pumpers with a total carrying capacity of 850 gallons of water, an 1965 Hahn custom pumper with a 500 gallon capacity, a 1970 Hahn custom pumper with carrying capacity of 600 gallons, and a 1973 Ford custom cab-over tanker with a carrying capacity of 1,650 gallons. The Department also has a 1959 International 4-wheel drive utility truck and uses 45 plectrons.


In June 1971, the Greenwood Lake Volunteer Fire Department hosted a "wetdown" for the new firehouse, a four-bay, brick building desperately needed to house the new equipment which had outgrown the original two-bay, wood frame firehouse built in that first year of its organization. The new firehouse has a paneled, carpeted meeting room and a steel-reinforced concrete storage balcony which was completed and furnished by the men of the department.


Although 1975 was a relatively quiet year for Greenwood Lake's 51 fire fighters, the department has had its full share of activity in former years. In January 1974, as a heavy snow storm began, the alarm sounded for a fire which eventually destroyed one of the lake's oldest buildings. Mother's Discotheque was formerly the Linden House. The original building was built in 1848 and was one of the earliest resorts. Many other of our grand hotels have been lost in this way. The Brandon House, Shamrock, the Long Pond, Inkowa House, Point Lookout, the Grandview....all were old wood buildings which were lost in fires. Even the best efforts of the department were in vain, and with our mountainous terrain, the men in the department must often climb half-way up with equipment to reach a fire. When the woods become dry, the men are often called to extinguish brush fires, but the worst in the last decade kept the department out for five days.


One very tragic call was in March 1972 when little Walter Starr was reported missing. The search was kept going for an entire week, but to no avail. He had fallen through the lake's ice and had drowned. He was discovered many, weeks later when the ice had melted. 


But not all fire department activity is so sad. Each January the department celebrates with a dinner and presents the Les Garrison Jr. Memorial Award to the fireman of the year. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the department built a parade float which has been a spectacular hit in each parade since then. This is not the department's first float. Their entry in Warwick's Village's Anniversary Parade received front page coverage in the Middletown Record.


To honor our first chief, the meeting room of the new firehouse was dedicated as the "Jake Deer" Room. After the business of the department is finished, the men enjoy the good fellowship of cards, food and drink in the Jake Deer room. This is the nature of most volunteer fire departments: hard work, the business of the company, then the comradeship which follows.


Charter Members


JACOB C. DEER

WM. E. UTTER

ARTHUR E. ESCHE

WILLIAM MARTIN

WILBUR J. CONKLIN

VINCENT WOOD

HAROLD K. STANLEY

WILLIAM RYERSON

FRANK L. CONKLIN

W. B. PHILLIPS

JAMES W. E. TURNER

GUS A. TROSTEL

F. J. WELLES

FRANK L. MILLER

EDWARD LOPEZ

EMIL R. JUENGLING

CHARLES DONALD, SR.

HAROLD BALL

EDWARD RYERSON

CLIFFORD SAYER

MERRITT HAZEN

PHILANDER C. RYERSON

BEAUFORD F. DUNN

W. A. WRIGHT

FRANK M. HIX

GEORGE M. HUBBARD

VAN WYCH FERRIS

THOS. F. BRENNAN

RALPH HORTON

CHARLES HUNTER

JOE F. GARRISON

SAMUEL JENKINS

PETER MERGENTHALER

GEORGE E. BALL

GARDINER STORMS

LLOYD SEAMAN

EDWARD T. FORBES

HARRY J. SUDMAN

A. W. SPEIER

GEORGE HUNTER

JOHN DRAAK

WILLIAM H. REHBERGER

EMMETT BALL

LYNN M. SAXTON

TOM JOHNSON

EDWIN JUENGLING

MAX BECKER

ABRAHAM MARR

HAROLD CONKLIN

JESS DONALD

JAMES W. TURNER, SR.

NORMAN BROWN

SEELY UTTER

JAMES CONOMOS

HEBERT LLOYD

GEORGE WEIDIG

Past Chiefs

Jacob C. Deer..................................................1924-1925
William E. Utter..............................................1925-1926
Jacob C. Deer..................................................1927
William E. Utter..............................................1928-1931
Jess Donald.....................................................1932-1936
Philander C. Ryerson......................................1936-1937
Leslie Garrison................................................1938-1941
Herbert Wilson................................................1942
Joseph O'Leary................................................1943-1944
Leslie Garrison................................................1945-1947
Frederick Christman.......................................1948-1949
Bernard Miller.................................................1950-1951
Ross Miller.......................................................1952
Bernard Miller.................................................1953-1956
Henry Sudman.................................................1957-1958
Robert Schnitker..............................................1959-1960
Raymond Huber...............................................1961-1965
Ted Ryerson......................................................1966-1968
John Morgan....................................................1969-1972
Raymond Huber...............................................1973-1974
Edward English................................................1957-1976



















Past Presidents


Emil R. Juengling...........................................................1923-1925

W. B. Phillips..................................................................1926-1931

Jack Schleich..................................................................1932-1934

Theodore Greck..............................................................1935-1938

John Murchio.................................................................1939

Michael Scotti.................................................................1940-1947

Jack Welchman..............................................................1948-1949

Leslie Garrison...............................................................1950-1956

Bernard Miller................................................................1957-1958

Frederick Christman......................................................1959-1960

Henry Sudman...............................................................1961-1962

Thomas Lyons................................................................1963-1964

Robert Harrington.........................................................1965

Robert Schnitker............................................................1966-1969

Bernard Winstanley.......................................................1970

Harry Foy, Jr..................................................................1971-1974

John Rader.....................................................................1975-1976