The following Elmira Fire Department historical events were taken from
papers collected by retired Elmira Fire Department Captain William Gordon
Cady and sent to a cousin Ken Sullivan in January, 1998. Bill obtained
them from a fellow fireman who had compiled major events in the history
of the department up until 1981. The text is presented in its original
form, unedited and was chronicled until early 1982. Any reference herein
to the present day are as of 1982. William Cady is a lifelong resident
of the Elmira area with Cady family roots in Corning, Steuben County dating
back to 1828 and Gordon family roots in Wells, Bradford County, beginning
in 1832. He has lived his entire life in Elmira, with the exception of
a four year absence when he served with the United States Army in the Pacific
Theatre during World War II.
||The Village of Elmira was incorporated.
||On May 23rd--John Arnot, Elisha Briggs, and William Dunn
were appointed Fire wardens for the Village.
||Oct. 29th--Resolution adopted: “There shall be no tossing
or throwing of fireballs, or firing of any squibs, rockets or crackers
in said village, and any person guilty of said violation of this ordinance
or in any manner siding or abetting or assisting therein, and the parent
or guardian or master of any child under his care, under 15 years of age,
who shall violate the same shall pay a fine of one dollar.
||The owners or occupants of buildings were required to furnish
“good and sufficient ladders of suitable length to reach the roof”, and
in case of removal of said ladder, they would be fined. They should also
provide fire buckets, one for each floor or again be fined.
||The Fire Wardens of the Village shall be allowed as a compensation
for their services one dollar per day for each and every day spent by them
respectively in performing the duties of their office”.
||Other Fire Wardens were appointed - Miles Covell, John Arnot,
and Abraham Riker were named. Appointment of twenty-three fireman which
constituted the fire company of the Village.
||Opening of the Chemung Canal.The fire alarm system consisted
of the ringing of first the bell of the Presbyterian Church.
||The Village voted to purchase an Engine for the use of the
company, and ladders, firehooks and buckets. Four hundred dollars was voted
by tax towards these purchases and with delivery in 1835 of a pumper, dubbed
“old Gooseneck” at a cost of $250 Elmira’s first volunteer fire company
was installed. Made up of 20 of the leading citizens of the Village. It
was called Torrent Hose and Engine Co. #1.
||$50 was voted to pay the services of the alarm ringer.
||Delivery of the first pumper “old Gooseneck” to the Village.
||Water St. Fire - Destroyed both sides of the street between
Baldwin and Lake Sts. 18 Buildings destroyed. The Neptune Co. pulled its
Button Machine across the Chemung River in order to save buildings on the
south side of the River.Lake St. Bridge, then built of wood, was consumed
||Lancer Co. #4 was organized in January, of this year.
||Ladder Co. #1 disbanded under peculiar circumstances.
||”Resolved that the present Hook and Ladder Company and the
two Engine Companies of the Corporation be paid $50 each. Provided that
such Company be duly organized by the first day of July next.”
||Red Rover Fire Company #3 was organized in August with headquarters
on Water St about opposite the site of today’s Chemung Canal Bank.
||Sept. 3rd - Eagle Tavern Fire - between Baldwin and the
Chemung Canal, now State St. More than a dozen buildings burned.
||Fireman’s Festival at Elmira.
||Young America Fire Engine Company was composed of many of
the “young blades” of the Village. They often challenged the other Companies
to feats of skill and tests to see who could throw water the farthest.
||Young America Fire Engine Company received a diploma from
the State Fair, and a splendid silk banner was presented by the young ladies
||Rescue Hook & Ladder Company #6 was authorized.
||The Smith Fire Engine became the property of the Young America
Fire Engine Company and is said to have never been beaten by any machine
with which they competed.
||A bell tower of brick was built on Market St., near the
site of the former Central Station.The tower was 79 feet high, with a bell
weighing 1 1/2 tons mounted at the top. There was a cat-walk around the
top, and a room just beneath in which resided the bell ringer.
||A charter was granted to the Village by the State to organize
the Elmira Fire Department. It was kept a volunteer organization but the
various headquarters covered the more vulnerable spots.
||Hydrants were placed in the Village.
||Fight between members of #1 Company and Young America Fire
||The Fireman’s Lot was purchased in 1862 in Woodlawn Cemetery
and donated by the board to the Fire Department.
||Southern Tier Sanitary Fair. First Presbyterian Church.
Fair had been a great success, building gutted. Two lives lost.
||The first steam engine, an Amoskeag, was assigned to the
Neptune Co. The effectiveness of this machine, costing $4,000 was very
||All of the fire companies except #5 ceased operations, a
form of “strike”, because the taxpayers refused to vote monies to replace
the rotted fire hose with which the machines were equipped. The citizens
became alarmed when they realized their fire protection had disintegrated
and voted money for a new supply.
||Lake St. Fire - Both sides of the Street between Water and
Carroll St. 26 stores.
||”Ours 4” Hose Company, so named by Mark Twain, came into
||Goodell Hose Company #5 - many of its members worked in
the old Elmira Rolling Mills.
||Water St. Fire- from Exchange Place to Railroad Ave. Both
sides of the street. $285,000 loss. 42 stores destroyed.
||Elmira Hose Company #1 organized.
||Elmira’s paid fire department came into being.
||May 4th - Volunteer fire department disbanded.
||Upon the disbanding in 1878 of the volunteer fire companies,
some of the men were retained by the paid department. Miles Trout, a former
volunteer, became the first chief of the new department.
||Elmira Fireman’s Association formed - its object being to
“perpetuate the memory and history of the volunteer fire department of
||The Legislature passed an act authorizing the Mayor of the
City of Elmira to appoint two Fire Commissioners. They, with the Mayor,
constituted the Board of Fire Commissioners.
||Oct. 1st - The City accepted a fire alarm system installed
by Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph Company of New York City and Boston. There
were 41 alarm boxes about the city.
||John H. Espey was appointed to the department as a call
||Advertiser Fire - $180, 000 loss. One fireman and one civilian
die. J. A. Campbell became Chief of Department.