Rotterdam Fire District No. 2 was created in September of 1922 with Commissioners Roy Hamilton, Ford Neff, Harry Lord, and William Close. The newly created fire district encompassed the northern portion of our present fire district and did not have a fire station or any firefighting equipment, rather it was created so that the residents could establish a fire company with sufficient and suitable fire fighting equipment.
During the ten years proceeding 1922, the neighbors within the immediate vicinity of a fire responded with courage and good judgement to form a "bucket brigade," but the City of Schenectady Fire Department generally was called to extinguish practically all major fires. The neighbors organized fund raising events to obtain the necessary fire fighting equipment for establishing a fire company, but due to financial hardships they were unable to fulfill the requirements to reorganize the fire district.
Two devastating house fires occurred in 1932, one on Greenpoint Avenue and the other on Altamont Avenue. These fires motivated the residents of the fire district to establish two fire companies. The fire district was officially reorganized on March 14th, 1934 with Commissioners Michael Della Rocco, Fred Johnson, Homer LaViolette, Alvah Cameron, and Earl Harley Sr. and recognized Beverly Hose Company as the fire district's first fire company. The fire district recognized Edgewood Hose Company on May 15th, 1934 as its second fire company.
The Beverly Hose Company began in the very early 1930's when a group of neighbors met at each others residences, Wager's Store (now being Gabriel's), and Bigsbee School to organize a means of establishing a fire company. The outcome of numerous meetings and fund raising events was an International Truck donated by Mrs. T. Oathout and garage bay donated by F. Johnson on Beverly Street for quarters. The neighbors rebuilt and equipped the International Truck into an efficient fire fighting apparatus. Since the newly organizing fire company was quartered on Beverly Street, it was concluded to name it Beverly Hose Company.
On March 14th, 1934, in the Carman Fire Station, the Beverly Hose Company was accepted as the first fire company in Rotterdam Fire District No. 2. with E. Harley, Chief; C. Burgess, Assistant Chief; J. Bourdeua, Forman; C. Schwartz, Assistant Foreman; N. Phillips, President; G. Wager, Vice President; A. Tyburski, Secretary; F. Ogden, Financial Secretary; B. Smith. Treasurer, T. Oathout, F. Perry, and M. Komes, Trustees; and members H. Kurschel, S. Senecal, E. Francis, W. Tomack, D. Willoughby, A. Evans, J. Riely, and J. Nixon.
During the 1930's the developing fire company began to grow. A Brockway pumper was purchased from the Scotia Fire Department to complement the original International apparatus. Problems with the International caused its replacement with a 1935 Chevy. As the fire company began to grow, larger quarters were found and the Beverly Hose Company moved to Bower's Garage, 1064 Curry Road, at the corner of Floral Avenue.
The 1940's brought growth to the fire company and to the fire district. In 1942, the fire district was enlarged to include "No Man's Land" and the Brockway pumper was replaced with a new Dodge pumper. With the help of Edgewood Hose Company, after many hours of work together, the Rescue Squad, our fire district's ambulance service, became a reality. In 1947 the fire district grew again to include the southern area of Helderberg Avenue and County Line Road, thereby completing our present fire district of approximately four square miles. The 1940's came to an end with the plans for a new fire station.
The Edgewood Hose Company began in 1934 when a group of neighbors, who had been trying for years to establish a fire company, received a 1930's Checker Model M Taxi from New York City from Rheinhold Vogel Sr. and a show room bay at the Vogel Brothers Garage. From 1932 to 1934, the neighbors reconstructed the Checker into a chemical fire fighting truck, which was like a soda-acid extinguisher. Since the newly organized fire company was quartered across the street from the Edgewood Post Office, it was concluded to call it Edgewood Hose Company.
The Edgewood Hose Company was accepted as the second fire company in Rotterdam Fire District No. 2 on May 15th, 1934 with A. Lenz, President; P. Mathieson, Vice President; T. Summers, Secretary; L. Kverek, Financial Secretary and Treasurer' E. Townsend, Lieutenant; and members A. Lenz, G. Hock, F. Pechal, L. Zadrazil, J. Riely, R. Hamilton, P. Groncki, L. Zubal, H. Linscott, W. Jackson, L. Demarco, R. Vogel Jr., G. Vogel, R. Vogel Sr., P. Von Stettina Sr., A. Niedhammer, C. Johnson, S. Von Stettina, L. Bohunicki Sr., W. Reynolds, S. Szyzewski, M. Bohunicki, and H. Metz.
With the continuation of the 1930's the Edgewood Hose Company began to grow with more personnel, additional equipment, and greater experience. In 1939 the fire company moved from Vogel's Garage to Von Stettina's Blacksmith Shop on Amsterdam Avenue. In March of 1941, the Edgewood Hose Company received a new Dodge pumper to replace the Checker chemical truck. The Edgewood Hose Company along with the Beverly Hose Company sponsored a carnival to establish the Rescue Squad.
After World War II the Edgewood Hose Company received an OCD pumper (Office of Civil Defense fire engine on a Dodge truck body) to complement their 1941 Dodge pumper and were planning for a new fire house.
1950 began with both fire companies moving into and sharing a new fire station, our present station. During the early 1950's, the Town of Rotterdam installed water mains and fire hydrants throughout our fire district. The early 1950's also saw the New York State Thruway constructed through our fire district. After many meetings, discussions, and liaison committee sessions the Beverly Hose Company and the Edgewood Hose Company merged into one fire company on January 1st, 1955. While the merging process was in committee, a great discussion ensued for a name of the combined new fire company. It was concluded that both hose companies were Rotterdam Volunteer Fire Companies of Rotterdam Fire District No. 2; therefore it was decided that our name shall be Rotterdam Volunteer Fire Company of Rotterdam Fire District No. 2. (to many, we are known as just Rotterdam Fire District 2). The 1950's were marked by the disasters of the Town Tavern fire and the Palma Lumber Yard fire. The completion of Shoparama, the first shopping center on Altamont Avenue in 1955 was evidence of our growing fire district. The fire district purchased a new 1956 Mack Fire Engine with a 750 gpm pump, 300 gallon booster tank, and a deck gun to replace the 1935 Chevy pumper. Another new Mack Fire Engine with a 750 gpm pump, 300 gallon booster tank, a turret gun, and a windshield for the back step was purchased on 1957 to replace the OCD pumper. The 1950's ended with the 25th Anniversary.
The disaster created by a tornado traveling through the middle of our fire district from Guilderland Avenue through Colonial Gardens and Colonial Manor, across Helderberg Avenue and Curry Road to Greenpoint Avenue and then through Coldbrook, as well as the disastrous Ice Storm of 1964, remind us of the early 1960's. The completion of the Curry Road Shopping Center, indicate the growth of our fire district in the mid 1960's. The fire district replaced the 1941 Dodge pumper with a new Gerstenslager Rescue Truck in 1966. The 1960's ended with plans to expand our fire station.
The 1970's began with the Town of Rotterdam's Sesquicentennial. The completion of an addition to our fire station, the combination of two apparatus bay doors to have a large overhead apparatus door, and the fire district's purchase of a new 1972 Mack Fire Engine having a 1250 gpm pump, 250 gallon booster tank, jump seats with air packs, and 4 inch hose replaced the 1942 Dodge pumper. During the 1970's, 4 inch hose replaced the double 2 1/2 inch supply hose lines on our supply and attack engines. Our fire district continued to grow with the opening of the Rotterdam Mall in the mid 1970's. The members of the fire company built a fire fighting brush truck from a military 2 1/2 ton, 10 wheel drive truck in 1977. During the late 1970's the Rescue Squad began extensive heavy rescue training, By the end of the 1970's three quarters of the fire company were trained with an expertise for heavy rescue and vehicle extrication.
1980 began with our Rescue Squad merging with the South Schenectady Hose Company's Ambulance Corps to form the Rotterdam Volunteer Emergency Medical Corps. An automatic daytime mutual aid response from Carman, Pine Grove and South Schenectady Fire Departments was devised in 1981 to assure availability of fire fighting equipment and personnel during the critical first working shift hours. Our 1957 Mack Fire Engine was replaced with a new 1982 Ward-79 Fire Engine having a 1250 gpm pump, 500 gallon booster tank, 20 gallon foam tank, top mounted pump panel, jump seats with air packs, and a deck gun. Also in 1982 a centralized dispatching program was devised. On January 18th, 1988, Rotterdam Fire District 2 experienced a tragedy no fire department ever wants to experience. After a working structure fire, while crews were cleaning up at the fire house, Captain Duane Ahl suffered a heart attack and passed away. This remains the only Line of Duty death in Rotterdam Fire District 2 history. Duane Ahl was a beloved member of the fire company, and will never be forgotten.
In the 1990's there was no exception with continued growth. 1992 saw the arrival of two new apparatus, a 1992 Pierce Lance pumper with a 1500 gpm pump, 750 gallon tank, and an all enclosed 6 man cab, replaced the 1956 Mack Fire Engine. Also purchased was a 1992 Pierce Lance 12-man cab Heavy Rescue Truck, which replaced the 1966 Gerstenslager Rescue Truck. With the arrival of these apparatus, and following safety regulations, we stopped firefighters from riding the rear steps of trucks. Purchased in 1994 was the first official Chiefs vehicle, a 1994 Jeep Cherokee. In 1997, a Pierce Saber pumper with a 1500 gpm pump, 750 gallon booster tank, and an all enclosed 6 man cab was purchased and replaced the 1982 Ward-79 pumper.
The early 2000's continued to bring new changes to the fire company. In 2001, a Ford F-550/BME Fire Engine with a 500 gpm pump, and a 250 gallon booster tank was purchased. This apparatus replaced the 2 1/2 ton military brush truck. The final outdated piece of apparatus, the 1972 Mack Fire Engine, was replaced by a 2003 Pierce Quantum Fire Engine, with a 1500 gpm pump, 750 gallon booster tank, and a 6 man cab. Our newest piece of apparatus is a 2010 Pierce Velocity, with a 1500 gpm pump, 500 gallon booster tank, and a 4 man cab, which replaced the 1992 Pierce Lance pumper. We will soon be replacing the 1997 Pierce Saber pumper. The first decade of the 21st century brought many changes to our station as well, including a fully refurbished "Rec Room", new apparatus floors, new gear lockers, and solar panels added to the roof of the fire house.
The Rotterdam Volunteer Rescue Squad District 2 was the fire department's ambulance operated and staffed by the firemen of Rotterdam Fire District 2 for a period of 38 years. The rescue squad began in December of 1942 and continually served the community until December of 1980 when an agreement was completed to merge with South Schenectady Hose Company Ambulance in January of 1981. This merger formed an all volunteer independent ambulance corps known as the Rotterdam Volunteer Emergency Medical Corps. In 2004, Rotterdam Volunteer Ambulance and White Eagle Volunteer Ambulance merged, creating Rotterdam Emergency Medical Services (REMS).
Through the efforts of the members of the fire department and auxiliaries devoting hard work and the dedication of campaigning door to door soliciting support and funds to start a new ambulance service in the community, a carnival was held on Hungry Hill by the fire companies of the fire district as a fund raiser. The proceeds of this carnival purchased a 1938 Buick Ambulance in 1942. This was the beginning of the rescue squad. The ambulance was stationed in a garage in the back of the former Edgewood Federal Credit Union building on Altamont Avenue. Although the ambulance barley fit in the garage, it served as the rescue squad's quarters until 1950 when the present fire station on Curry Road was completed.
The rescue squad's first call was a response to a house fire at the Thomas Middleton residence on Tower Street near what is now the Price Chopper Store. The housekeeper for the Middleton's was severely burned in the fire and was rushed to Ellis Hospital. During 1943, the first year of operation, the newly created rescue squad responded to 140 calls. In 1950, when the rescue squad moved to our present fire station, the 1938 Buick Ambulance was replaced with a 1950 Buick Ambulance. In the early 1960's the 1950 Buick Ambulance was replaced with a 1960 Ford Ambulance. In 1968 a Cadillac Ambulance was purchased to replace the Ford. By the end of the 1960's, the rescue squad had responded to an average of 250 calls per year. In 1974, the 1968 Cadillac Ambulance was replaced with anew 1974 Cadillac Superior Ambulance. Medical emergencies and transportation calls for the rescue squad increased dramatically through the 1970's. In 1980, the last year of the rescue squad, the District 2 firemen had responded to 728 calls of assistance from the community.
Through the years, the rescue squad raised its level of training for its members to better serve the fire district. The last year of the rescue squad, there was a total membership of 28 firemen which included 4 Paramedics, 9 Emergency Medical Technicians, and 14 Advanced First Aiders with CPR certification, all providing their time on a volunteer basis as those members did in 1942 when creating the rescue squad.
The firemen who served on the rescue squad were dedicated and proud to serve their community with a most important service. Although the rescue squad no longer exists in name, it definitely exists in spirit.