Arvin Hart Fire Company Fire Station Historical Perspective 1954 to Present

When the fire district was formed in 1954 there was an obvious need for a fire station to house the equipment that was on order.  The first fire station or garage was a barn with a canvas cover on Cowin’s property on Kellogg Road. The first brick and mortar fire station was located on Campbell Road on property donated by the Cowin family.  Several members of the newly formed department were Cowin’s or were closely related.  The land at the corner of Campbell and Kellogg Road was a swampy lot that was being filled by bark from the then operating West Virginia Pulp and Paper Co.  Several parcels of land around the town were filled with bark that was stripped from the logs to make paper. The largest concentration of bark is a large ravine between Brickyard Road and what is now the Turning Point sub-division on County Route 75.  As a result of the decaying material in this large dump several of the homes in Turning Point have methane detectors as a gas is produced by the rotting bark and travels through crevasses in the ground.

Back to the fire station; the first fire station was built atop the bark fill with little gravel below the floor.  Subsequently there was a 3” list to the floor in the meeting room and the members were able to have office chair races from one side of the building to the other.  The original two bay station had a meeting space and a bathroom that shared the heating equipment. The cement block station had a flat pitched roof and the water flowed off the back of the building when it rained or when the snow melted.  As with all flat roofs, leaks were common.  There were two entry doors, one on the east side and one in the back, off the unpaved parking lot.  Housed in the station was the 1932 American LaFrance pumper that once belonged to the City of Cohoes and the new 1.  GMC, John-Bean high pressure pumper with 750 gallons of water. The meeting room was separated from the apparatus . s by a folding door at the time.

As time passed the District purchased a Metro Might van which it used as a “rescue” truck.  It was loaded with borrowed or donated equipment used at fires and vehicle crashes.  When the Metro-Mite step van was purchased it was squeezed in between the two trucks that were already parked there.  In 1961 another John Bean was added to the fleet and parked at Station 1.

Eventually a third bay was added to the station with two bathrooms, a men’s and women’s room.  In addition an overhead door replaced the folding door so that trucks could be parked into the meeting room if necessary.  Space was tight. Two more small additions were eventually added, the Commissioner’s office/conference room and a larger kitchen and another room that would eventually become a bar.

As the fire district grew there was a demand for more equipment and additional stations to cover the 42 square mile district.  The next was Station 2 which was the former McDermott Road one room schoolhouse.  The building and land was purchased at a minimum price from the Stillwater School District.  This station was bare bones to say the least, no bathroom or running water. This became known as the “tanker” station.  The building housed a surplus Air Force 2 ½ ton6x6 airfield fuel truck that was converted into a water carrying truck which could transport about 750 gallons.  Eventually in 1965 the district purchased a Salisbury Bison Series tanker with a Ford C-800 chassis and 1500 gallons of water.  The ’65 remained at Station 2 for some time.

In the early 70’s the idea of a fire station closer to Saratoga Lake came to fruition by the purchase of an acre of land on State Route 423 near Jack Halloran Road.  A two-bay metal building was erected on land which was donated by the Decker family who owned the farm at that location. Carl Decker, who owned the farmland, belonged to the fire company and at the time was married to Ray Brook’s daughter.  Both Carl and Ray served as chiefs in the fire company and the station was later dedicated to Ray as the “Brook’s” station. When the station was completed the 1961 International/Bean and the Salisbury Tanker were parked in the Station.

By the mid-seventies the fire company was operating three stations, the main station or “Cowin” Station, the schoolhouse and the newest station on the hill on State Route 423.  It was soon realized that the school house station just wasn’t doing it and a piece of property on George Thompson Road was donated by the Mackey family to build a new fire station.  The new Station 2 was completed in 1996 where the fire company stationed a pumper and the water rescue equipment which progressed from a rowboat to a hovercraft, to the second generation air boat that is currently used as an all-season rescue craft.

Eventually station 1 became too small and was sinking into the bark fill.  A new station was built on the same land donated by the Cowin’s back in the mid-50s.  It was a challenge, but the new station fit on the property with sufficient outside space and parking.  After the station was built a narrow plot of land between the back parking lot and Lansing Road was purchased at a very reasonable cost from the Bob Kellogg family and remains as green space today.

When the fire district took over the Riverside Fire District in 2000 we inherited another station which was built in the mid-fifties, Station 4 or the Riverside Station.  The land includes a pavilion with kitchen which the fire company leases out for events during the summer.  The fire company currently responds 3 command vehicles, 4 engine/tankers, 1 heavy rescue, 2 general purpose pick-up trucks, a water rescue unit and two rescue boats, an air boat and a ridged inflatable swift water platform, a long way from our humble beginnings in 1954 when our first used fire engine was housed in a barn with a canvas door.