Equipping the Volunteer Firefighters
Equipment is vital to any fire company and a source of pride. From the time of the earliest hand-drawn engines and hand pumpers to the development of the latest hi-tech equipment, fire companies have taken great pride in maintaining and demonstrating the abilities of their equipment.
In July of 1877, the DeLand Fire Company held the first equipment demonstration in Fairport, stretching 650 feet of hose down North Main Street and throwing a stream of water up 40 feet. A parade led by the Fairport Cornet Band followed, ending up on West Avenue at Shaw's Hall where a grand ball was held as a fundraiser for the purchase of a hose cart.
By September, the company had raised $600 for the purchase of a hook and ladder wagon with six ladders ranging from 9 to 40 feet in length, hooks, pike poles, axes, lanterns, ropes, two dozen buckets and two small hand Babcock extinguishers.
The wagon was stored in the Herald Building (subsequently the Fairport Hatchery and now recreational vehicles). The hose cart, hauled by 20 men and carried about 100 feet of hose, was also stored in the same building. In 1878, Levi DeLand arranged to purchase a Silsby steam fire engine to add to the DeLand Fire Company's fire fighting ability.
The first motorized equipment, a Brockway truck, purchased from the American LaFrance Company, was made between 1918 and 1919. Within several years, the entire company was motorized, including a hook and ladder truck, a 350-gallon pumper, and 1,000 feet of hose. All of that equipment cost $11,000.
By the early 1950's, the Fairport fire companies maintained four completely motorized pieces of equipment. A combination truck, consisting of a pumper, 150 gallon booster tank and 1,000 feet of hose, was housed on the north side of town in a small firehouse on North Main Street.
The main fire house, located next to the municipal building on South Main Street and erected in 1931, accommodated a second combination truck with a pumper, a 350-gallon booster tank and 900 feet of hose; a triple combination hook and ladder truck with ladders, poles and a smaller pump, and 900 feet of hose; and an emergency truck or squad car which carried search lights, blankets, an inhalator-resuscitator, first-aid equipment, and a foamite generator. In addition, there was also a surplus auxiliary pumper. Each truck was equipped with gas masks and chemical hand extinguishers as well.
In subsequent years, the fire companies have continued to upgrade their equipment and facilities. In the early 1970's, a new structure was built on West Whitney Road to house equipment for that part of the town. It was named Stewart Station in honor of long-time firefighter Clair Stewart, who began his service in 1926, and served as chief from 1940 to 1964.
In 1981, the main Fairport firehouse includes among its vehicles a 4-door Hurricane pumper with a Hale 1,550 gallon-per-minute pump and a 750-gallon tank that carries a crew of six; and a truck designed to fight grass fires and to aid in auto extrication and off-road rescues.
In addition to these, the department has three more pumpers, a ladder truck, and three rescue trucks. Nearly all of the vehicles carry EMS supplies. One of the newest pieces of equipment is a thermal imaging camera that allows firefighters to see through dense smoke to identify victims or hidden hot spots.
Prior to 1916, a fire alarm consisted of the general blast of the fire whistle followed by another series of one, two, three or four blasts, depending on which quadrant of the village the fire was located. District one was to the southwest of the canal, two was to the southeast, three was to the northwest and four was to the northeast.
In 1917, a new alarm system was installed along with fire alarm boxes, and in 1921 a new fire whistle was installed in the municipal building. By the 1950's, each segment of the village was identified by a signal code and there were approximately 17 alarm boxes available. Today there are only two alarm boxes, one at the East Church Street station and one at the Whitney Road (Stewart) station. The area signal codes are gone, and the volunteers are alerted either by radio dispatch or by digital pagers. The fire whistle itself consists of a series of double blasts.
The Fairport fire companies have responded to an increasing number of calls over the years as the population of the community continues to grow. In 1962, they responded to 130 alarms. By 2000, the number had grown to 760.
The Fairport companies protect the village of Fairport, and the areas of Perinton generally bounded by Ayrault Road in the south, Baird Road in the west, and the town lines in the east and north. The volunteers of the Bushnell's Basin, Egypt, Penfield, and East Rochester fire departments cover the other areas of Perinton.