About Us

                            1917 -  Celebrating 100 Years of  Continued Volunteer Service - 2017

  The Sparrowbush Fire Department was organized on April 24, 1917. A few days prior a house had caught fire on Main St. and was extinguished with the aid of a small hand pump that a neighbor had made for his own use and the teamwork of the men who gathered at the scene.

      This fire made people realize that there was a need for a fire department with the town. The first meeting was held in the Old Town hall and a charter was drawn up with 53 names appearing on it. The department was the Sparrowbush Fire Department of the Water Supply District No.1. It covered a one mile radius from the firehouse.

     The first piece of fire fighting equipment was a two wheeled hand pulled chemical truck which held about 250 gallons of a mixture of soda and water. A bottle of acid was attached to the top of the tank and when this was dumped into the mixture the result was a stream of water with enough pressure to fight fires.

    The hand cart was housed in a private garage on the upper end of town which also served as a meeting room. For an alarm system, a large railroad engine tire was hung on each end of town and these were struck with large hammers to summon the firemen.

   In 1919, a Ford fire truck was purchased to replace the hand cart. This was housed in the private garage until 1920 when the Town Hall, which was part of the Hammond Estate was acquired by the department. Upon moving to their new quarters, the name was changed to the Hammond Chemical Company. An Addition was added to the building for a truck house. This building served the community for a good many years.

   The year 1925 added an Oldsmobile fire truck to the department and in 1931 a new Ford was purchased to replace the older one. In 1940, the district was extended to a two miles radius from the firehouse. As with a great many fire departments, then and now, money was a problem. In 1940 a bond issue was voted down and in 1942 the commissioners found it necessary to refuse to answer any fire calls outside the district. 1944 saw the first siren installed replacing the engine tires as an alarm system.

   In 1947 the Oldsmobile was replaced by a new Ward LaFrance which was approved by a bond issue. This was also the year that the name was changed back to the Sparrowbush Fire Department. In 1953 a fire protection district was established which extended the coverage to the Sullivan County line. A used American LaFrance was purchased from the Mack Motor Company in 1954. It was formally owned by our neighbors the Port Jervis Fire Department. The American LaFrance was kept in service until 1961 when it was replaced by a Mack which also came from the PJFD.

   In 1954 another addition was made to the alarm system, A local man, Francis "Pete" Skinner, who was disabled volunteer to handle the fire phone and dispatch the members. He handled this job with great efficiency until his death in 1964.

  The year 1957 saw the department looking for larger quarter because of the larger size of new equipment. These quarters were not to be realized for many years. In 1965 the department became incorporated and once again changed its name. It became known by our present day name the Sparrowbush Engine Company #1.  The Fire District was expanded to include the former Fire Protection District.

  The new fire house became a reality in 1970, and is still being used today as our Station 1 at 79 Main St. Also in the latter part of 1970 a new International 1,700 gallon tanker was added to the fleet and replaced the Ward LaFrance. The following year a 750 gallon Seagraves pumper was finally delivered. Shortly after delivery of the Seagraves the Mack was retired once again leaving the department with two pieces of apparatus.  

  With the increase use of the Delaware River for recreational use and canoeing/rafting, the need for a water rescue and dive squad became apparent. The squad was formed from qualified divers within the department and a 17 foot rescue boat was added to the equipment.

  Because of the population density increasing within the district, once again the need was felt for another piece of equipment, a fast attack truck. In 1975 the department took delivery of a Saulsbury Mini-Pumper. This unit is still in service today after going through two refurberations. In 1993 the department had A & M truck center place the original Saulsbury body and tank onto a 1993 Chevy 1500 chassis. In 2001 the body was refurbished by Wildefire Equipment.

  Over the years the department has added services and equipment to the company due to the increase of residents getting sick and the increase of traffic within the town. In 1975 the department expanded to provide first aid care for the district with members becoming qualified as EMT's. Today we have 15  State Certified EMT's. In 1989 the department added a 2500gallon pumper-tanker built by 4Guys Fire Apparatus to the fleet. The company purchased a set of Lucas Rescue tools to be used for extricating patients from automobiles that were involved in motor vehicle accidents. In 1991 the International Tanker was replaced with a new GMC 1800 gallon tanker built by R Tuno Inc. This tanker was refurbished in 2006 by Wildfire Equipment and now has a 1800 gallon Polly body and tank.

   With the increase of EMS calls in the district the district purchased a 1992 Chevy 1500 chassis and added a utility body and used it as an EMS and Dive Squad response vehicle. This unit is used still used today as an EMS response vehicle with the utility body being refurbished back in 2003. In 1996 the district replaced the Seagraves Pumper with a White/GMC 1750gpm pumper built by Central States Fire Apparatus.  In 2003 the District purchased a HME/Central States heavy Rescue with a 9ft walk in body to use for Dive Squad responses, motor vehicle accidents and fire scene support. The rescue is equipped with a 4 4500psi bottle cascade system, rescue airbags, TNT rescue tools for auto extrication and 9000 candle watt  light tower for night operations.

   With the increase of population on the north end of the district in the late 80's early 90's the district felt the need for a substation to be built. On October 27th 1990 the dedication of Station 2 at 1027 St Rte 42 to the community residents was held on property that was donated to the district by George Dean.

  Present day the district has a total of 12 pieces of equipment strategically placed in the district. Among this equipment we have an air boat and a jet ski for water rescue operations and a Kuboto that was recently donated to the company.  We have 70 members on the rolls and of those 35 are active firefighter. We have 15 active state certified EMT's, 15 members trained in dive rescue and recovery, 10 members trained for technical rescue.

  In 2011 the district purchased the first of three chief vehicles with the the other two being purchased in 2012. All three were purchased used from fire departments in Maybrook and Cronomer Valley, NY for the purpose of command vehicles to alleviate the use of the fire chief's personal cars. In 2012, a GMC 3500 series utility vehicle was leased to replace the 1991 Chevy to be utilized as a medical response unit and tow the boats, utility trailers. Also in 2012 the department assisted in the formation of the Orange County Technical Rescue- Rope Division Team consisting of the Sparrowbush, Port Jervis, City of Newburgh, West Point and Cornwall FD's. We also combined with the Port Jervis and Huguenot FD's that year to form the Battalion 8 Water Rescue Team. In 2013 a truck committee was put together to spec out a new engine to replace the '89 Autocar. We took delivery placed into service on December 6th 2015, a 2015 Spartan Gladiator 2500 gallon pumper tanker built by Custom Fab and Body and is equipped with TNT Rescue Tools, SCOTT Air-Packs, 3,000 gal. porta pond, 6-man seating, light-tower, generator. This new engine replaced the '96 Central States engine which was sold the Nome, ND Fire Department. 

  In the end of 2012 the battalion was awarded a federal grant that provided Sparrowbush, Port Jervis, Huguenot, Cuddebackville and Otisville FD's with all new mobile and portable radios, 1 Mobile for each Chief officer and apparatus and 1 portable for each officer and apparatus riding position, in the UHF frequency utilized by the County for fire ground operations. In 2013 a joint regional technical rescue grant with Port Jervis was awarded by the State of NY to provide  needed water rescue and technical rescue equipment along with 2 new rubberized boats. In 2015 we also received a federal grant to replace our outdated Interspiro SCBA with new SCOTT manufacturing SCBA, and a new Baur SCBA Fill station/compressor system. This year the Sparrowbush and Port Jervis FD's were awarded another regional technical rescue grant to provided training in swift water rescue and confined space rescue.

 Through the years we have met many challenges and are looking forward to the same in the future.

© 2020 Sparrowbush Engine Company