The people of Bethany used to depend on the bucket-brigade for fire protection, as the many fine old cellar holes in town will testify, and it wasn’t until after the neighbors had formed a fire department (and had operated it successfully for five years) that Bethany finally decided to organize a company whose purpose was declared to be “To protect life and property.”
An organizational meeting was held on September 24, 1934, with Wallace S. Saxton, the First Selectman, presiding. The first order of business was to elect a temporary chief (Wallace Saxton) and a temporary secretary (Irving W. Clark). A resolution was then prepared to be presented at the October Town Meeting. It read: “Be it resolved, that we, the people of the Town of Bethany, recognize the newly organized Bethany Volunteer Fire Department….and that we donate said Department the schoolhouse known as Center School, situated on Amity Road, to be used by them as headquarters and firehouse.”
Center School was under the jurisdiction of the School Board and, because it was a complicated process to transfer ownership of the building, the use of Center School did not come to the fire department until December 1934. In the meantime, the Department was conducting business: it considered the donation of a chemical truck, adopted a Constitution and By-laws, elected its first officers, and became incorporated.
The first election of officers was held on October 3, 1934. Those elected were: Orville D. Crooker, Chief; Raymond Short, Captain; Stanley H. Downs, 1st Lieutenant; John Harrison, 2nd Lieutenant; Charles C. Booth, Sergeant-at-Arms; Walter W. Hayes, Secretary; and Irving W. Clark, Treasurer. Members of the Executive Committee were: Jerome Downs, William Edmondson, Edward Hollweg, Irving Johnson, and Wallace Saxton. Trustees were: Chief Crooker, Mr. Saxton, and Edward Sherbut. The Auditing Committee was John Edmundson, Irving Johnson, and Nelson J. Peck. The Charter Members of the Department were the officers listed above and the following: Luis F. Dion, James Harrison, Laurence Peck, and J.H. Swander.
On December 18, 1934, the Department purchased a 1935 Ford V-8 1 ½ ton chassis – the foundation of the No. 1 Truck. The Department’s first Firemen’s Dance was held on December 14, 1934. The Department raised $106.40, increasing their treasury to $109.00.
The first meeting to be held in the new firehouse was on March 5, 1935. Some modifications had been made on the schoolhouse: doors replaced a wall and the floor had been reinforced to withstand the weight of the Ford truck (which was ready for its first test with Woodbridge’s hose in April). Meetings were held downstairs in the basement.
The minutes of the April 23, 1935 meeting record the “first Fire Report”. There were no details as to the location but a brief note was made that they discussed the “probable origin”.
On July 28, 1942, the Department purchased its second truck, a 1924 Seagrave pumper. The truck had originally been used by the manufacturer as a demonstrator and was bought from the Orange Fire Department, where it had served for eight years. While pumping at a fire early in 1950, it suffered a cracked block and was retired. To replace the Seagrave, the Department bought a new Ford heavy-duty truck chassis and built it into an “efficient fire-fighting machine, most of the work having been done by the members of the Department.”
In 1951 thru the outstanding efforts of the members of the Fire Department and with financial assistance of the town, the Center Station Firehouse was constructed on Amity Rd. It served the Town and the department well for over 55 years. The first firehouse, Center School, was eventually given back to the town. It was relocated a couple of times before it was moved to its current home on the Bethany Community School campus and refurbished to its original condition. The foundation and basement of that school house, our first Firehouse, are under Center Station located at 460 Amity Rd. and are still accessible. The 1950 Ford heavy-duty truck chassis, the third truck operated by our Department, Truck 3, is what many have come to know as the Muster Truck and is still owned by the Association.
In 1964, the Fire Department, having the foresight to realize a new fire station would eventually be needed in the western part of town, began negotiations with the Ansonia water Co t purchase property on Bear Hill Rd. From this idea, and thru the efforts of department members and local contractors and suppliers, arose a structure to continue the protection of life & property of the townspeople which we serve. In May of 1972 the building was opened and dedicated in ceremony, and is now known as The Edward H. Hinman Firehouse, aka Hinman Station.
After many years of searching for placement, planning and construction, our current home, Headquarters, was constructed, dedicated and opened to us in 2007.