FIRE - RESCUE - EMS
Crescent Hose Co #2
On a stormy winters night, December 19th, 1858, the town of North East was hit by it's first major destructive fire as of record. A row of buildings from the Presbyterian Church, east to Main and Lake streets was consumed by the flames. Thirteen and one half years later, fire once again struck the town of North East and erased from sight a number of wooden buildings on Main Street. In 1878, North East Borough Council took it's first step in the area of fire protection, purchasing a hand-forced pump for $36.05. This pump would prove to be inadequate only six years after purchase. By the year 1884, the residents of North East demanded better fire protection. Borough council responded with the construction of a ten mile water system that supplied downtown hydrants from a reservoir on the hill. The project cost the Borough of North East $20,000.00 and was completed in 1885. With this completed water system and the interest of many residents, the idea of an established fire fighting organization was formed. On the evening of December 31st, 1885, the Citizens Hose Company was formed at Main and Vine streets. Citizens Hose Company took residence at Borough Hall on Vine Street. On the same exact evening, on the other side of town, the Fuller Hose Company was formed after a donation from Ezra N. Fuller of one hundred dollars.With the completion of the water system and two hose companies on either side of town, the North East Borough enacted Ordinance 60 (see right) on Match 3rd, 1886, along with making Mr. Frank Wells the first Fire Chief of the fledgling North East Fire Department.
Early documents pertaining to the meetings of the Citizen's Hose Company are unable to be uncovered. The minutes of the Fuller Hose Company indicate that they were aggressive in attempting to become an able hose company. Exactly why two fire companies were formed is not known. It is often believed, and a commonly accepted theory, that the Citizen's Hose Company was formed to protect the Borough only, while Fuller Hose was formed to protect the borough and outlying areas. This is not the case. That decision was not made until the early 1920's at Borough Council's request after it had purchased North East's first mechanical pumper for the Crescent Hose Company. The following speculation was offered in "The First Hundred Years" (a book published in 1986 by the NEFD Centeniary Planning Committee:
"The Borough of North East at the time of these organizational meetings was pretty much developed into two
seperate business and residential sections. One was the Clinton, South Pearl, Robinson, and Wall Street area
along with the railroad access which can be called the "southern section." The other, the "northern section" consisted
of Main, Lake, and Vine Streets what is today called the downtown of North East at the intersection of major routes
through town. Upon completion of the water system that serviced all areas of the borough, there apparently were
strong feelings amongst the townspeople in both sections that they wanted a hose company in their section and that
it be the first one established. This competition between the two groups was apparently strong and unfortunatley harsh
in later accounts kept by the Crescent Hose Company. Despite the competition between the townspeople, the
development of two hose companies rather than one was strategically the best result."
A second speculation to the reason for having two hose companies in one town is when the departments were formed, access to either side of town was limited due to Baker Creek. The creek cut through the center of the current town, and only 2 bridges existed to obtain access either side.
In October 1886, the Borough Council installed a fire bell above the town hall and an alarm system was designed. On paper, the Borough was divided into four districts. To sound the alarm and at the same time to alert the firemen to the general location of the fire, the bell would be rung rapidly, and then one, two, three, or four rings distinguishing where the fire is located. A few years later, each fire hall had its own bell tower and fire bell.
On February 13, 1889, the Anti-Saloon League brought charges against the Citizen's Hose Company before Borough Council. The Borough secretary was instructed to request the resignation of all members of the company and pay $50.00 for all hose company equipment. The members resigned, and the Citizen's Hose Company was disbanded. However, on that same night, sixteen of those who resigned offered their services as members of a new hose company, the Crescent Hose Company. Borough Council agreed and all equipment from the disbanded company was turned over to the Crescent Hose Company.
In 1902, Crescent Hose Company replaced it's hand drawn wagon for a horse drawn "fire" wagon. In 1909, the communities first "central alarm system" was installed at the local telephone office. Fire alarms were received by a switchboard operator who in turn called each fireman until the firebell on top each firehall was sounded. In 1910, the first major fire was received by the hose company. The building was a total loss. Two years later in early 1912, the Crescent Hose Company purchased a fire damaged Studebaker automobile chassis and motor for $350. The vehicle had been purchased by Doctor Wishart only one month before. This was the towns first motorized fire apparatus. In 1915, the bell atop Crescent Hose Company was replaced by a single "diaphragm" horn, along with the construction of a Hose Tower inside the Crescent Hose Company. In that same year, a "chemical apparatus" was purchased for $98.40 by Crescent Hose.
A special meeting was held on January 29, 1919, at Crescent Hose to discuss the need for a fire truck. The company proposed that the old hose wagon be sold, and a new pumper truck be purchased. Realizing that the Crescent Hose Company could not afford it themselves, help was sought from Borough Council. After 11 months, and no results, the Crescent Hose Company took drastic action. The hose company was rumored to be disbanded, and the white Studebaker fire vehicle was taken to Gibson Park, and chained to a tree. Realizing that the company meant business, the Borough agreed to investigate the pumper. In May, 1920, the new 1919 American LaFrance 750 Gallon Per Minute pumper was delivered at a cost of $12,000. There were cheers of joy from the members of the Crescent Hose Company.
In 1930, the first form of SCBA was purchased by Crescent Hose Company. Shortly after, the addition of an inhalator and first aid bag to 1919 made it the first rescue truck.
A realization was made that funding needed to be secured for the success of the hose companies. The Cherry Festival weas formed in January 1946. The first year, the profit was $4,413.89. The success of this carnival inspired the firemen to continue the festival annually, and still continues today.
In March 1947, the Crescent Hose Company purchased it's first ladder truck. A Seagrave ladder was purchased for $1,990. Months later, a truck was purchased for rescue for $1,568.00 and a master stream appliance was purchased for $480.00.
It was in 1949 that the Crescent Hose Company retired 1919, and purchased a 1949 American LaFrance 750 GPM pumper.
In 1954, the first radio communication was established with a base station and mobile radios in fire apparatus. Two years later, members of the companies could have a "home monitor" to receive the alarms. The borough began dispatching for North East in 1957. In 1958, Crescent Hose Company purchased a Chevrolet station wagon to handle the increasing number of rescue squad calls.
In 1962, Crescent Hose purchased a 1952 Dodge Ladder Truck, at a cost of $4301. The ladder truck formerly used was retired. In 1963, the first "ambulance" was purchased, and it was a Cadilac Station Wagon. In 1968, Crescent Hose purchased another new ladder truck, this one with a 1000 gallon tank. The old apparatus was traded in.
On June 1, 1971, the Crescent Hose Company became the local ambulance service for the community of North East. Borough ordinance made this official on July 7th, 1971. In October, due to the overwhelming amount of calls, a van-type ambulance was purchased for $12,645.55. In addition, $1400 spent in radio equipment, and a new inhalator was purchased for $412.00.
The 1970's were a very destructive year for the town of North East. Many fires destroyed many buildings. Perhaps the most memorable was on May 14th, 1977. The main building of the Saint Mary's Seminary caugh fire. The fire involved 15 fire companies from Erie County, New York and the City of Erie. The fire, under Chief Thomas Huber's reign, was a major loss. The fire departments were able to save the Seminary chapel, the faculty residence, and the lower three floors of the six story student building. Total damage for this fire was close to 4.5 Million Dollars.
In 1982, Crescent Hose Company replaced their pumper with a 1982 1500GPM pumper, which is now in service in Texas. The older apparatus was in service in Greenfield until the late 1980's.
Since the 1980's, many changes have come to the fire service. A second ambulance was added due to call volumes. More training became available, and more equipment was purchased.
In 1996, the 50' Snorkel was replaced with a KME 75' Aerial Cat. In 2000, a LifeLine Type III ambulance was purchased, and a twin the exact next year. In 2001, a heavy duty KME rescue was added to the Crescent Hose fleet, and in 2006, the engine was replaced with a KME Predator engine. In the year 2009, both ambulances were "re-chassied" to 2009 Ford E-450 chassis. In 2013, Rescue 218, a 6x6 Polaris Ranger was purchased and outfitted with a Kimtek EMS Sked unit, capable of patient transport from wilderness and otherwise inaccessible locations. In 2015, Ambulance 207 was replaced with a 2015 Braun/Ford F-450.
While the years have changed the company, with rising costs, changing faces, and newer equipment, one thing remains, and that is the dedication of neighbor helping neighbor to make the town a safer place for all who live here, work here, or pass through here.