The history of the Carmel Fire Department is one that has been vibrantly and consistently developing since the start of the early 1900's. Interestingly, prior to becoming a formalized district, there were various groups of residents within the town of Carmel that efficiently "maintained [fire safety] without a burden to the village or its beneficiaries" (Putnam Courier). Moreover, these historical initial versions of firefighters, within Carmel, was led by Ellsworth Fowler with accompaniment of Henry B. Zickler and J. Franklyn Hyatt. Along with other residents of the town, the original firefighters of Carmel sounded the fire alarm by means of shouting at each other to warn others of the dangers ahead.
However, on October 23, 1914 Mrs. Stephen Ryder, the initial and primary activist of the creation of the Carmel Fire Department, called a meeting to order of all local taxpayers. This primary meeting not only came about to discuss the creation of the first fire protection committee, but also to confer on the notion of the taxpayers contributing to the fire protection of the town through increasing membership and enhanced equipment of those times. Ultimately, the Carmel Fire District was created by a resolution of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Putnam on November 10, 1914. By September 21, 1915, the Board of Fire Commissioners of our district adopted a motion to incorporate the Carmel Fire Department. Moreover, on September 23, 1915, Justice Joseph Morschauser of the Supreme Court of New York, executed our certificate of incorporation and hence the Carmel Fire Department became officially recognized by the state of New York as an official fire department.
On November 10, 1915, the town board gave its consent to the department and by November 23, 1915 the directors submitted a list of names that they considered eligible to become active members of the Carmel Fire Department. Additionally, the department's first annual meeting was held on January 3, 1916 whereby the first officers of the department were elected. However, prior to this meeting, on December 31, 1915 the newly appointed Carmel fire fighters excitingly welcomed the arrival of two pieces of apparatus that were shipped via a train box car from Anderson, Indiana. In fact, Mr. P.G. Howe, the designer and engineer responsible for the design and manufacturing of the apparatus, traveled to Carmel to ensure their safe arrival.
Although they traveled a treacherous eight days to arrive, the town was enamored to own their first two pieces of fire apparatus used to fight fires alongside the small chemical extinguishers they originally employed. Today, the original "Buckeye" stands strong and tall within the Carmel Fire Department walls and can be viewed by the residents as it stands at the front of the firehouse looking out towards Route 52.
In 1922, the department purchased another piece of apparatus- a GMC Buffalo. The cost of this apparatus was approximately $5,000 which was appropriate for the economic times. Also, nearly a decade later in 1939, the Carmel Fire Department upgraded their equipment for safety and purchased an additional truck apparatus officially known as the Diamond T Model 200, which was highly recognized as one of the most charming and beautiful trucks in America.
Excitingly, in November of 1949, the Carmel Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary was created and later became to be known as the Carmel Fire Department Auxiliary. The Auxiliary's support remains unwavering and has recently provided a significant amount of inspiration to the fire department parades, as they win prestigious marching trophies at various county parades.
Interestingly, in 1953 the Carmel Fire Department moved from its original location on Gleneida Avenue, next to an old Revolutionary War cemetery, to a newly created firehouse on Fair Street. This second home of the department is currently known as the headquarters of the Knights of Columbus Chapter in Carmel, New York. It was not until December 6, 1953 that the department held their first official annual meeting within the new building.
In 1964, the new 12-5-1 Oren Ladder truck had its introduction into the fire department by hosting the infamous wet down, whereby the department welcomed the sixty-five foot ladder, hosing it down for the first time indicating "good luck" for the truck. In 1965 this new colossal ladder truck took part in its first mutual aid call to the Baxter House fire in Mahopac, NY.
Although the Baxter House fire of 1965 was a large fire, one of the largest fires the town has ever seen occurred on October 22, 1974 which was known as the Downtown Fire. During this enormous fire, more than 200 volunteer firemen from around the county of Putnam answered the call that fateful night as the fire viciously tore through seven businesses, five offices, and four apartments on Main Street (Route 52). Unfortunately, this was categorized as one of the worst fires of the century within the town of Carmel.
After this devastating fire, the Carmel Fire Department purchased a Large Diameter Hose and became the first departments to own such innovated equipment of this particular era. The Large Diameter Hose allowed firefighters to provide an increasing amount of water to fight future fires.
Once again the Carmel Fire Department became ahead of the curve in the race of fire department advancements as they purchased the infamous Seagrave in 1980. This apparatus was 1,750 gallon pumper and was the first of its kind within Putnam County. The various upgrades in equipment became valuable during the 1989 F2 Tornado in King's Grant whereby the department set up a command center to keep a safety watch over the condominium residents and any unstable structures effected by the tornado.
In 1990, the third largest fire for the Carmel Fire Department encompassed the Barns Medical Center on Stoneleigh Avenue. This became one of the most notable fires of our current generation, as the fire raged on for a lengthy amount of time and residents recalled seeing flames within the night skies. Various men and women of the department fought the fire and can still recall the events of that particular night.
Finally, with the turn of the century, the Carmel Fire Department has encountered many notable fires such as the infamous Rite Aid Putnam Plaza fire of May, 2000, as well as the St. James Catholic School electrical fire. Nonetheless, many recall the infamous "Wendy's" fire of 2006, whereby many of our neighboring departments joined to help fight this mighty blaze that became a part of the history of the town of Carmel.
Over the years the Carmel Fire Department has encompassed approximately over 300 members. Currently, as of 2015 the fire department contains 110 members, and is 100% volunteer. Our members are extremely dedicated to providing the community with professional fire protection services.
Furthermore, the Carmel Fire Department averages nearly 350 fire and emergency calls per year. Throughout the years, the department has utilized various trucks since the department's inception and will continue to provide the services our town requires with the help of our neighboring fire departments when needed.
We honor our past 100 years of service to the town of Carmel and look forward to the next 100 years to come.