Fifty Years of Fire Protection
a history prepared for our 50th anniversary in 1996 – and then some
The Hoags Corners Volunteer Fire Company was incorporated on October 30, 1946. The purpose of the Corporation was:
(a) to preserve and protect from loss and damage by fire, lives and property in its locality;
(b) to acquire and own fire apparatus for use by the Corporation in the protection of persons and property from injury, damage, loss or destruction by fire; and
(c) to own and acquire land and to construct and erect buildings for corporate purposes and for the use of the members of the Corporation in connection with the housing off fire equipment and apparatus and for providing a place of meeting for members of the Corporation and other purposes as may be requisite and necessary relating to the operation and function of the Corporation.
Over the years this mission was accomplished by a number of different Chiefs and Board Members, and later Fire Commissioners, and through quite a few different methods.
First Board of Directors
The first members of the Board of Directors to start implementing plans to achieve the stated goals were: Eugene Holterback, Kurt John, Heinz Stute, Edward Birmingham, Justus E. Hall, and Stephen F. Lukovits.
The Town Board Members that consented to the formation of the Hoags Corners Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. were: Authur L. Cummings, John E. Powell, Charles Daniels, Harry Honig, and George Weiffenbach.
Chief Justus E. Hall
The first Fire Chief in Hoags Corners was Justus E. Hall who served from 1946 through 1954 during which time he was so interested in the Fire Company and the safety of the community that he donated the site and building.
Chief Alfred Rahmig
Alfred Rahmig as chief from 1955 through 1976 was responsible for a few notable additions to the Fire Department to help in its firefighting efforts–the purchase of E.22 (15-1) a 1964 GMC- 750 pump 500 gallon pumper, and a 1968 GMC Tanker TA-7 (15-8) 1600 gallon tank 250 gear PTO pump. He also brought a considerable amount of safety to the Department through his purchase of the first Scott Air Packs.
As the needs of the community kept growing, the Department saw the need to expand to larger quarters. The property where the firehouse is presently located was purchased in 1976, with the start of construction in 1978 and the completion and occupancy in 1979.
Chief Rudy Jahn
Rudy Jahn (chief from 1977 through 1985) brought along with his term as Chief some changes in how the Department responded to fires and how the money to run the Department was generated. Up until then, the firefighting equipment (coats and boots) were stored on the firetrucks. This caused quite a scene at calls as the men responding scrambled to find matching, or at least close to fitting, boots and coats that fit around them. Rudy had the men respond to the firehouse, get their gear, then go to the fire — a much more organized firefighting force arrived at each scene.
Hoags Corners Fire District No.1
The major change that occurred during Rudy’s watch was the implementation of the present Hoags Corners Fire District No.1 in 1981. This allowed the collection of taxes to fund the Fire District and brought on board five Fire Commissioners to oversee the expenditures of taxpayer’s money.
First Board of Fire Commissioners
The first five Commissioners were: Alfred Rahmig, William Schiermeyer, Jr., Karl Gelotte, Warren Wells, and William Lobdell, Sr. The Commissioners are elected to a five year term with a single seat being up for election yearly.
Rudy also purchased the first custom pumper for Hoags Corners, an E-I pumper (15-6) with a 1250 pump and 1000 gallon tank. Possibly the most cost effective truck purchased by Chief Jahn, or anyone else, was a 1952 Dodge 4×4 brush truck. It was bought surplus for $1 and is still in active service.
In 1980 as firefighter safety became more of an issue, Rudy started the change from the old style firefighting gear, rubber rain coat type, to the modern Nomex turn-outs. With the firefighters better protected they now needed a better way to be notified of a call. The siren was loud enough if you were close to the station and the wind conditions were right, but this was not always the case. Individual pagers and chargers were acquired and the days of the modern firefighter began with 10 pagers and a base station.
Chief Richard Shakerley
Richard Shakerley, chief from 1986 through 1987, “blessed” the Fire Company with the beginning use of LDH (large diameter hose) which enables the Company to get huge volumes of water to the fire scene. Acting basically as an above-ground water main, LDH allows a number of hoses and appliances to be operated off one supply line.
Dick also brought an active training program to the Fire Department which better prepared and protected firefighters under his command.
Chief William Schiermeyer
William Schiermeyer was chief from 1987 through 1992. Since the Department started, many of the original methods of fighting fires and responding to emergencies have changed. With those changes have come changes in the actual calls themselves. While the Department was started mainly to fight fires, it now has a lot of accidents and medical emergencies in the District. Fortunately, Hoags Corners Ambulance handles most of these calls quickly and professionally.
CFR (Certified First Responder) Program
Bill, however, saw the need for the members of the Fire Company to get specialized training in medical emergencies and other life-threatening situations. The program he established was the CFR (Certified First Responder) Program. This program is taught by the County and the State and trains members to a level just below EMT (Emergency Medical Technician).
The Responder first on scene can establish a clear airway, check for trauma and stop major bleeding on a patient or accident victim until the ambulance arrives, giving the person a much better chance at having a good outcome from the situation.
In continuing to upgrade and increase the number of fire apparatus, Bill was heavily involved with the purchase of the Company’s next new truck (15 -7). This truck is another E-1 custom pumper and the first responding truck to most fire calls.
Chief Jeffrey Root
Jeffrey Root was chief from 1992 through 1995. Jeff had the unenviable task of not only running the Fire Company, but of trying to bring it up to speed in the managerial department. This meant BFIR’s, OSHA compliance, NFPA guidelines and myriad other paper work and computer files. This work was accomplished under Jeff as Chief and continued through his service until h resigned in 2013.
Again in the ongoing area of personal safety, Jeff instituted physicals for all current and new members of the Fire Company. These physicals include mask fit (for Scott air packs), lung capacity, EKG, and Hep-B shots. Tracking of all this information is kept on computer and constantly upgraded as needed or demanded by OSHA or NFPA.
Jeff continued the Company’s diversification with the purchase of a rescue truck (R-15). This vehicle goes to all calls to serve as a Command Center. It is equipped with Company’s Fire Police radios, ropes, backboards, cribbing for vehicle stabilization, water rescue suits, and various other safety equipment and tools, further increasing the Company’s ability to respond adequately and appropriately to all calls within the District.
Chief Dan Work
Dan Work was chief in 1996. Dan’s job as Chief may seem to be laid out neatly in front of him. The Company has the trucks it needs, most of the fire and safety equipment, a well-trained and able department of volunteers along with two very capable Assistant Chiefs (Ken Bornhorst and Joe Crandall). What else could he possibly need?
How about photo copiers, fax machines, a second telephone line, a more modern computer, a five-year plan, more office space, and many other time saving devices to accomplish mandated goals without having the needed time to do them?
The Fire Service is being swept quickly into the next century and Dan’s job along with the whole Department and the Board of Commissioners is to have the Hoags Corners Volunteer Fire Company poised and ready to enter the year 2000 with the confidence, ability and the desire to protect people and property in the Hoags Corners Fire District #1.
Chief Ken Bornhorst
Ken Bornhorst served as chief from 1997-1999. Ken was heavily instrumental in implementing fundraising efforts from grant writing to organizing the annual Golf Scramble.
We’ll be posting more about Ken’s service, as well that of as his successors, as we continue to build our historical record.