THE HISTORY OF PEARL RIVER HOOK & LADDER COMPANY NO. 1
The first fire company to form in Pearl River was the Hook & Ladder Company Co. No. 1, which was chartered on July 10, 1903. The first engine the company used was a hand-pulled pumper that was stationed at Joseph Fishers Livery Stable on Central Avenue. The original firehouse that was constructed in 1904, was a two story wooden structure that mysteriously burned to the ground in 1906.
On July 15, 1907 Porter Tygert agreed to construct a new firehouse for $1996. The new building was a large two story wooden framed structure with an attic and a huge four-story house tower, topped by an open balcony. This building survived for three years when again, in March of 1911, a fire broke out and destroyed the structure. The men of the company then decided to spend $4400.50 to build a two story brick fire house, that wouldn’t be as capable of burning. After this building was created the company then started turning towards horse drawn equipment. For the next forty years the firehouse survived and was remodeled with a new enclosed staircase, a recreational room and an addition of equipment.
The Pearl River Fire District was established on January 20, 1941, when both companies sold their trucks to the newly created Board of Fire Commissioners for $1.00. Pearl River's largest fire occurred on June 8, 1944 and lasted four days. This fire destroyed a six-car railroad train and a majority of what was then known as the Comfort Coal and Lumber Company. Besides all six cars, the fire also spread to six or seven building from the rear of Central Avenue. The blaze also spread north destroying everything in its path and eventually jumped the street to Washington Avenue, where it continued to destroy sheds and barns in the area.
In October of 1968 the members of Hook & Ladder decided to demolish the firehouse and rebuild another brick firehouse for $180,000. Between demolition and construction, Hook & Ladders apparatus was stored in Excelsior’s firehouse. In 1972 Hook & Ladder was equipped with a 1967 100 foot Maxim aerial truck, and a 1958 1,000 gallon Seagrave pumper. Then in November of 1972 the Seagrave was replaced with a 1,250 gallon young pumper.
In 1978, the Pearl River Hook & Ladder Co. No. 1 marked a milestone with its 75th anniversary. Along with Excelsior Engine Co., the Pearl River Fire Department hosted the Rockland County Volunteers Firemen’s Association annual convention and parade.
In 1981, the 1966 Maxim 100 foot mid-mount ladder was replaced with a 1981 Pierce Arrow/LTI rear-mount aerial. The Maxim, was sold to Dewey Fire Company, in Hellertown, PA. After serving the Dewey Fire Company for many years, Ex-Chief William “Billy” Harris Jr. purchased the Maxim, who was an active member of Pearl River Hook & Ladder Co. No. 1. Ex-Chief Harris passed away suddenly in 2008. In 2010, two members of Pearl River Hook & Ladder approached his family about purchasing the truck and restoring the ladder. This ladder is currently owned by Michael Crean (an active H & L Co. No. 1 member since 1976) & Bill Babcock (a former member of Pearl River Hook & Ladder from 1980-1993 & a current member of the Florida (NY) Fire District since 1993).
In 1984, the Pearl River Hook & Ladder Company took delivery of twin Ford C-8000/ Pierce engines. One engine replaced the young pumper and the other engine increased the number of frontline apparatus at Hook & Ladder to two engines and one ladder. Both engines were equipped with 1250 gpm pumps and 500-gallon booster tanks. Engine One radio call sign was 12-1250 and Engine Two was subsequently designated as 12-1251.
In 1990, the 1981 Pierce Arrow/LTI 100 foot rear-mount aerial was replaced with a 1990 Pierce Arrow 105 foot rear-mount tower ladder. The 1990 Pierce had a 1500 gpm pump and carried a total of 149 feet of ground ladders.
In 1995, the 12-1250 was replaced with the 12-1750 a 1995 Pierce Lance II 1750 gpm pump/1000 gwt generator. Some special features of the engine are its top mounted pump panel and rescue body. The 1750 was purchased with knowledge that the Lederle laboratories, a 550 acre pharmaceutical research center, was disbanding their fire brigade. The 1750, currently serves as our first line engine and second due apparatus to all alarms within the Pearl River Fire District.
In 1997, the Pearl River Fire Department and the Nanuet Fire Department formed the first Technical Rescue Team in Rockland County. The Technical Rescue Team was trained in rope rescue, trench collapse, confined space rescue and building collapse. Rockland County Office of Emergency Services currently oversees the Technical Rescue Team.
In 1999, Hurricane Floyd ravaged Rockland County. The Pearl River Fire Department responded to over one hundred calls for assistance. Emergencies included multiple automatic alarms, structure fires, rescues, wires down, pump outs and flooding conditions.
In 2000, the 12-1251 was replaced with the 12-1250 a KME Excel 1250 gpm pump /500 gwt generator. The 1250 currently is our second due engine to all alarms within the Pearl River Fire District. It is also holds our Firefighter Assist and Search Team equipment which responds regularly to mutual aid requests.
In 2003, Pearl River Hook & Ladder Co. No. 1 celebrated its 100th anniversary. The anniversary was marked with cerebration for the company’s outstanding commitment to the community.
In 2004, the Pearl River Hook & Ladder Co. No. 1 purchased one of our old ladder trucks for the use as a company antique. The 1949 Peter Pirsch (12-65) was used as our company’s front line aerial from 1949 to 1966 when it was replaced with the Maxim. Currently the Pirsch is ninety percent refurbished, members continue to update the hydraulics.
In the summer of 2010, the 1990 Pierce Arrow 105 foot rear-mount tower ladder was replaced with a 2009 Pierce Velocity 100 foot steel rear mount tower ladder. The 1990 Pierce ladder served the Pearl River community for twenty loyal years, the ladder was sold to the Livonia Fire Department (NY) where it operates as Ladder 258.
In 2012, during Hurricane Sandy firefighters braved intense wind and other dangerous conditions to serve the residents of Pearl River. The department responded to approximately eighty incidents within a forty-eight hour period. Incidents included: wires down, wires arcing, trees on a houses, structural fires, automatic alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, evacuations, life support assistance, one technical rescue, and other hazardous conditions.
Today, the Pearl River Hook & Ladder is celebrating our 112th year of providing fire protection for the community of Pearl River. Our current membership totals over ninety members. We have three front line apparatus (1 Ladder & 2 Engines) and two support vehicles (1 Mini Rescue & 1 Support Vehicle). In 2014, Hook & Ladder responded to a total of 270 emergency calls.