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The General Warren Emergency Company #2

       Organized May 15th, 1854   


On Sunday evening, January 22, 1854, Rev Dr. Freeman of the Presbyterian Church on Clinton Street was delivering an address from the pulpit when someone in the audience, after hearing an alarm, went outside to investigate, only to come back shouting “We’re all on fire”. As the doctor described it, ‘there were coattails flying, and a retreat of men, women, and children, leaving me to suspend services without the Benediction’.

The cause of the alarm was the burning of a barn, and the loss was estimated at $2500.00 and as a direct result, the Citizens of  Warren were to support through private fundraising, the purchase of the necessary apparatus for a Hook and Ladder Company.

On January 28, 1854, a meeting was held at the Ballroom of the American Hotel, and the meeting was a success. Sufficient funds were available to purchase the equipment needed, and Rescue Hook and Ladder was born.

On April 24th, 1854, the newly formed Village of Warren had appropriated $1200.00 for a fire engine and hose carriage and 400 feet of hose, and on May 15th, a new Engine Company came into being. In early September the Rockland County Messenger published the following announcement: “Just as we go to press, this splendid machine, with hose carriage attached, is passing our office. The Machine, and the newly uniformed company belonging to it, rather eclipsed the glory of the old ‘Rescue'”.

This is the History of the General Warren Emergency Company as told through the lens of the Haverstraw Fire Department. The ‘splendid machine’ described above is none other than the Button Pumper our brothers responded with 150 or more years ago, and as for ‘Eclipsing the Glory’ of Rescue, well, that’s what the paper said.

This story is gleaned from Newspaper Articles; Village, Department, and Company minute books, as well stories handed down from Generation to Generation. We hope this content is accurate and feel free to contact the us with any suggestions, corrections or additions.


The formation of a Fire Department was one of the controlling reasons for the Incorporation of a portion of the Township of Haverstraw into the Village of Warren. Several disastrous fires had visited the community and while a Hook and Ladder company had been formed by popular subscription its equipment only permitted it to act as a bucket brigade to extinguish fire. Prior to the incorporation of the village considerable agitation was afoot in the community to purchase a fire engine but efforts to do so by subscription failed. The only solution was Incorporation where this problem and others including water supplies could be solved by taxation.

Warren Fire Engine Co #1 nee Hand Engine Co #1

On May 15th, 1854 the Warren Engine Company No.1 was organized and the following officers and members are considered charter members:
G. Meyers, Foreman; H VerValen, E.M.Farrington, W.W. Oldfield, D. DeNoyelles, S. Requa, G.B. Bullis, J. Miller,W. Seasby, G.Snedeker, G. Anderson, H. Stagg, W. Schank, S, Newman, S. Fowler, G. Ward, P. Schoonmaker, N. DeGroat, H. Jones, F. Glassing, T. Brennan, T. Murphy, R. Mackey, W.Ferdon, J. Phillips, J. Serat, M. Flynn and L. Whittaker. This company was accepted by the Board of Trustees and joined the Warren Fire Department. However, they were a company without a truck, hose or home, and it was several months before they received their machine and moved into their firehouse.


The first fire attended by the company was mutual aid, and was to Garnerville N.Y. on September 7th, 1854. It involved a barn a little west of the Garner home, what is now 18 Railroad Avenue. Rescue Hook and Ladder was called to this fire, and the Rockland County Messenger commented “We saw a number of Warren Engine Company members assisting their brothers of Rescue Hook and Ladder at this destructive occurrence. This is as it should be. They expect their machine every day on the Steamer from New York”.


On September 21st, 1854 the machine did arrive on the river steamer Armenia from New York City for there was no train service into the village in those days. It was manufactured by L. Button & Company of Waterford, NY and was known as a Piano or Piano Box, so called because it was thought that its box-like body resembled a piano.
The suction hose was permanently attached and carried in what was called the “squirrel tail” style because when it was not in use it was swung up over the top and held in place by a large brass pipe. The pump had 7” cylinders and a 5” stroke. This type of engine was one of the best geared and fastest engines of its day. It was equipped with lengthwise parallel arms known as “brakes” which were manned by the company members and which operated the pump. Apparently the members were anxiously awaiting its arrival for the Messenger comments “just as were going to press this splendid machine, with hose carriage attached, passed our office on her first journey through the village not forgetting to give us three hearty cheers for which mark of respect we return Louis Wambold, the Fireman, and his gallant comrades our most sincere thanks.

The village records show that the bill for the fire engine, hose and hose carriage was audited and approved at $1089.00.

From the Messenger:

The engine was warranted to throw a stream one hundred and thirty-five feet high through four hundred feet of leather hose and when the display was finished the street and houses had the appearance of having passed through the second edition of the deluge”.


Along with apparatus and equipment, a system of cisterns were dug throughout the Village after the incorporation in 1854. These cisterns, often supplied by downspouts and storm water, were usually found under the sidewalks throughout town. The handtubs would pump the water out of these cisterns into hoses or buckets which would then be poured onto the fire. It is apparent that there were monthly displays by the company, when the machine was brought out and took suction from the cisterns located in the village streets.


On September 1st, 1854, the Village of Warren purchased from Mr. Isaiah Millburn a building at what is now 36 Middle Street. As you can see from this picture, the bay door has been bricked over, but is quite visible. The flagstaff also still remained. This picture is from the mid 1950’s.


On October 2nd, 1854 the company held their first parade in honor of the arrival of the machine. The Messenger said that the company “passed in procession through Main and other streets, dressed in full regalia, with their beautiful Engine and Hose Carriage which attracted a great deal of attention.” That night the Company together with Rescue Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 and a few other invited guests were entertained at a supper at the Warren Hotel by the Board of Trustees of the Village. The first mention of any fire company in the Village minutes shows that on June 2nd, 1856 “On motion resolved that the application of the members of Warren Fire Engine Company No. 1 for leave to take an excursion with their engine to Newburgh on the 4th of July was received: ‘Denied’.”


In 1857 a second company known as Union Fire Engine Company No. 2 was organized and supplied with a machine similar to the one assigned to our company. They were assigned quarters on Division Street where they would remain for all of their history.


On April 18th, 1859, Rescue Hook & Ladder Company, which had been operating as an independent company using popular subscription for funding, was transferred from the town to the village fire department making the third company in the department. Rescue, who by 1859 had incurred both debt and liability greater than their means, decided to abandon its subscription, and join the Warren Fire Department. As was the standard in those days, Rescue was able to transfer their considerable debt as well as their apparatus to the Village for inclusion into the Warren Fire Department with the Village assuming all of the companies liabilities. In July of 1862, Rescue was Re-Organized as Rescue Hook & Ladder Company #1 and has remained since. They were the Third Company to join the Warren Fire Department. Rescue’s first home as an independent company was on Liberty Street, and was moved to Division Street upon inclusion in the Fire Department. Rescue shared Quarters with Union Engine #2 at this time.


On February 14, 1859 the New York State Legislature passed an Act which provided for, and regulated the election of a Chief Engineer and two Assistant Engineers of the Fire Department of the Village of Warren in the County of Rockland. The first convention held under this Act was on May 8 1859 in the United States Hotel and Samuel A. VerValen of Rescue was elected the first Chief receiving 52 votes over Belding Barnes, of Warren Fire Engine Company No. 1, who got 46 votes. William Oldfield of Warren No. 1 was named First Assistant and Benjamin Felter of Union No. 2  Second Assistant. This system was to stand until June 7th, 1934, nearly 75 years.


On March 16th, 1857 Edward Pye, Esq., former County Clerk and first Village President was accepted as a member of the Company and subsequently served as its Treasurer up until the time that he formed a company of volunteers and left the village to participate in the Civil War. He later became the Colonel of the 95th New York Volunteers and was killed in action. During the period of the Civil War it is apparent that the strength of the department was cut by enlistment’s. However, a Firemen’s Association was formed during the war of members thereof subject the to draft of the first class under the conscription and each member contributed $50. They asked that the village contribute an additional $900 or as much as might be necessary to secure exemption. Such proposition was so voted at a special election. The drain caused by the war was evident at the election for Chief held on May 15th, 1862 when only 26 votes were cast at which Belding Barnes of Warren No. 1 became the first Chief from this Company.


At the meeting of the Village Board, held on March 23rd, 1863 the first ordinances governing the Fire Department were adopted. These ordinances provided for quarterly inspections of the Fire Department and disciplining members thereof who refused to obey any order of the Chief Engineer at such inspection or at any fire or alarm thereof and who, upon conviction thereof, were subject to a fine of one dollar and fifty cents. The first uniform of the company consisted of a light blue shirt, white leather belt and cap with red band but apparently this outfit did not last long for a description of the inspection held on September 4th, 1862 has them dressed in red shirts and glazed caps. Following this parade the two engine companies proceeded to the dock at the foot of Main Street, then known as Bogert’s Dock, subsequently called the R.P.W. Dock and the Emeline Dock and proceeded to participate in a “friendly wash–both playing powerful streams.” Following that each of the three companies proceeded to three of the hotels at the invitation of Chief Barnes to partake of some refreshments. ”


In July 1869, Steam Fire Engine No. 5 was formed and almost immediately became Lady Warren Fire Engine Company No. 5, thus making four companies in the department, which then consisted of one hook and ladder, two hand engines and one steam engine. They were housed on Division Street as Rescue was moved to Liberty Street some years earlier.


According to the Village Minutes a petition was presented to them on March 31st, 1870 “praying the Board to Change the name of Warren Fire Engine Company No. 1 to General Warren Engine Company No. 1, which was, on motion, granted. Thus the metamorphosis of the company name. Under an Act of the Legislature passed April 14, 1874 the Corporate name of the Village was changed from Warren to Haverstraw and the Fire Department was changed accordingly.


On December 4th, 1876 a company known as Mutual Hose Company was formed but it only lasted two years being disbanded on September 2nd 1878 on recommendation of the Board of Engineers for neglect of duty.


Following this Triumph Hose Company No. 1 was organized on September 25th, 1878. This company was originally housed in Division Street but moved into General Warren’s rooms on the south side of Middle Street when our new rooms were built. It lasted until June 1902 when it disbanded and was succeeded by Cosgriff Hose Company No. 4.


During the year 1881 internal strife developed in the company which came to a head with an attempt to discipline former Chief John A.Miller, a member of the company, who was expelled for non-attendance at an inspection on April 21st, 1881 and who refused to pay his fine of $1.50. After several hearings were held before the Board of Trustees at which Mr. Miller and the Board of Engineers testified, the company was peremptorily disbanded on recommendation of the Board of Engineers by the Board of Trustees at meeting on December 6th, 1881, and the Board of Engineers were instructed to reorganize the company. An item appeared in the December 15th, 1881 copy of the Messenger which said that “When No. 1 Engine first came to Haverstraw the best men in the Town used to attend the meetings of the Company. No dissension among the members in those days. “It is interesting to note from the Village Minutes–meeting of January 3rd, 1882 the following — “Pres. Osborne moved that the Corporation Attorney be authorized to prosecute the parties who took furniture and etc. from General Warren Engine House on the night of the 6th day of December in order to procure such property. Carried.

Because of the importance of this event in the history of the company there is quoted in full an article which appeared in the December 15th, 1881 issue of the Messenger:

“Fire Department”

“At the last meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Haverstraw General Warren Engine Company No. 1 was disbanded as a company and the Board of Engineers of the Department were instructed to reorganize the company. Tuesday evenings a number of persons who had been notified met in the Corporation Room and proceeded to the organization of said company. The result of the selection of officers were as follows: Foreman Frederick Glassing, Assistant Foreman, J. Brehm, Secretary Joseph Albert, Treasurer Christian Meyer, Stewart Jacob Hahn, representative on the Board of Engineers Leonard Stock, Jr.; the reorganized company starts off with a list of twenty-five good members with the prospect of many more. The utmost harmony prevailed at the meeting which augurs success for the reorganization. Speeches were made by various persons, which were listened to with marked attention. The company then proceeded to
some necessary business when they adjourned to meet Monday night 19th inst. Let harmony and peace prevail.”


In addition to the above officers the following members constituted the Company as recommended to the village Board by the Board of Engineers and accepted by the former at meeting of January 3rd, 1881:–Frederick Ohler, Leonard Stock, Jr., Jacob Siebold, Gabriel Pfeister, Christian Spissinger, Joseph A. Schmidt, Jacob Hafele, E.P. Burd, Leonard Stock, Sr., Joseph Dennis, Frederick Mardorf, Henry Hahn, Henry Rembe, John Lunkenheimer, Terrance McGowan, and George Stock. For many years the company was known as the “Dutch Company” and after reading the above Roster it is not difficult to understand how it derived this moniker.


Up until 1880 Rescue had been meeting in Osborne Hall on Liberty Street but in this year a new building was erected for them in Middle Street which they occupied up until the time they moved to the present Municipal Building. At meeting of the Board of Trustees held March 6th, 1882 a resolution was passed to raise the sum of $1000 for the purpose of purchasing a suitable house for General Warren Engine Company No. 1 and passed by the taxpayers on March 22nd. This new building was built on the west side of the building then occupied by Rescue in 1883 and the Foreman was advised at meeting of the Village Board of December 5th, 1883 that the new house was ready for use.

At meeting of the Board held January 7, 1884 the Foreman, Frederick Glassing, Jr. was presented with 36 keys for new engine house for No. 1. The company was still in possession of the hand engine and several more cisterns had been constructed throughout the village one of which was in the street in front of the new fire-house.


On April 18, 1884 Union Fire Engine Company #2 was disbanded for disorderly conduct and insubordination and the Corporation Counsel was directed to procure the furniture removed from the Union Firehouse. This, of course, reduced the Fire Department to four companies but the hand fire engine belonging to Union was put in storage and maintained by one of its members. The Village minutes show that on April 7th, 1887 permission was granted to test the old Union Fire Engine. On May 5th, the Village granted a request from General Warren Engine Company #1 to change the name on the newer Union fire engine to General Warren Engine Company #1, and respond with this apparatus. Lady Warren was to take over the Union Firehouse on Division Street and to remain there until a new building was built on Broadway.


During 1884, an application was received by the Village Board to supply the Village with water, and shortly thereafter construction was commenced on a pressurized water system. By 1885, it was recommended to the Board of Engineers that fire hydrants be placed throughout the Village to improve fire protection. This work was to commence the next spring, and by July 6th, 1886 it was reported that 13 hydrants were in service. By October 5th, 1886 it was reported that 37 hydrants were in service and this set the stage for the another transformation in the Companies and in the Department.


With the advent of the Pressurized Water System, pumps were no longer needed to draw water from the village cisterns, and as a result, the village sold the Lady Warren Steamer, and put all of the hand engines in storage. Four wheeled Hose Carriages were purchased by the Village and distributed to the companies In a later development, two wheeled hose carts were purchased to replace the bigger and heavier 4 wheeled variety, and the 4 wheeled versions were kept by the companies and used as Parade Carriages. Our old engine was last seen on public display at a parade in the Village on June 17th, 1903. Interestingly, the old Engine, which was purchased in 1857 for Union was stored in a barn behind the Corporation Rooms on Fourth Street until 1930, when it was accidentally destroyed.


With the discarding of the old hand engine and the receipt of the new hose carriage, the company name was again changed in 1887 to General Warren Hose Company #2.


As the department continued to grow, space became a major issue. Lady Warren #5 was housed along with Union #2 in the Division Street Quarters from around 1870, which of course caused Union to petition the Village to remove Lady Warren from “their” quarters. The petition was upheld by the Village and Lady Warren was decamped to Osborne Hall on Liberty Street, where they stayed until Union #2 disbanded in 1884. At this point, Lady Warren was assigned to the Union firehouse where they stayed until a ‘New’ Firehouse was built north of the Village Center.


On June 5th, 1895 the Relief Hose Company #3 was organized making the fifth company in the Haverstraw Fire Department, meeting at a building on the Northeast corner of Westside and Gurnee.


Cosgriff Hose Company #4 was organized in June, 1902. This company was a direct descendant of the Mutual Hose Company which was organized in 1876 and Triumph Hose Company organized in 1878. This is the last mention of a ‘NEW COMPANY’ in the Village minutes.


The Haverstraw Fire Department was to see its greatest disaster on January 8, 1906, when the eastern boundary of the village was devastated by a Landslide caused by Clay and Sand mining below street level. In an all out effort to secure raw materials for the brickyards, unscrupulous operators ignored obvious warning signs including cracked streets, home foundations, and seismic movement. The disaster claimed 19 lives and as many as 21 homes, started a fire as coal stoves and lamps ignited, and destroyed a half-mile portion of the village near Rockland, Liberty and Allison streets, leaving eight houses precariously perched near the landslide. The Haverstraw Fire Department was to bury 4 Members this fateful day.

Joseph Albert
William E. Hughes
Abe Dias
Benjamin Nelson


The age old method to alert the membership to a fire alarm fell upon a Village watchman, who after hearing a resident scream, or when finding a fire, would run to the Methodist Church on Fourth Street and ring the bell to alert the membership. The brickyards had steam whistles that would sound on the north side of town. Near the turn of the 19th century, the Lighting Company on West Broad Street installed a ‘whistle’ on its roof, dubbed the ‘Screecher’, that would be sounded when there was an alarm. This system was in place until 1908, when the Village of Haverstraw contracted with the Gamewell Company to install street pull boxes. 12 new pull boxes were installed throughout the Village. The system remains in place today. 


With the advent of the New Century, motorized auto-cars and flat bed chassis became prevalent in the fire service. Haverstraw had two companies equipped as such, Relief Hose with a Sterns 3-60 Automobile and a Hale pump and Lady Warren with a Pope-Hartford Automobile with a hose bed procured with the help of the Brickyards.
General Warren Emergency would come to accept delivery, on September 27th, 1919, of a brand new Mack Triple Combination Pumper, our first motorized apparatus.


The chain driven Mack AC played a major role in a trans-continental Road Test conducted by the US Army, and based on its war record, we chose this Cab and Chassis for our first motorized apparatus. General Warren Hose Company #2 would come to accept delivery, on September 27th, 1919, of a brand new Mack Triple Combination Pumper, our first motorized apparatus. The Mack had a 300 gpm pump, 300 gallon tank, 40 gallon chemical extinguisher, 1200 feet of 2 1\2″, and assorted tools.We were by this time known as General Warren Hose Company #2. The 1919 Mack Triple Combination pumper served the company until 1936 and was last seen as the village honey wagon well into the 1950’s.


Around the mid 1920’s, there was a need for fire departments to form Emergency companies.  Lighting, salvage equipment, tools for industrial accidents and first aid equipment were being stowed on pumpers, and new trucks without pumps and tanks were designed with this in mind. The General Warren Hose Company #2, the oldest Engine Company in the Village, was so converted.  That only lasted until 1954. 


In 1936, the Village of Haverstraw was to erect a new Municipal Building on industrial land on Maple Avenue. A new Village Hall, Police Station, and Quarters for the 3 Middle Street companies that for over 80 years, occupied buildings designed for hand or horse drawn apparatus.


“The Flashlight and Iodine Truck”

The 1936 Seagrave was the second motorized apparatus purchased for General Warren. This truck was designed to carry lighting, salvage equipment, and in a new development, tools for industrial accidents and automobile extrication. With war clouds on the horizon, and before the advent of the ambulance corps, many departments began equipping fire trucks with first aid and rescue equipment. This was the ‘cutting edge’ technology of its day. The flashlight and iodine truck would also respond with accident victims directly to Nyack Hospital when the need arose. The 36 Seagrave was last seen sitting in Jurgensens Machine Shop on West Street. 


Upon reciept of the 1936 Seagrave rescue, the company name again was changed to General Warren Emergency Company#2 to reflect it’s mission. We were and still are, General Warren Emergency Company #2.


“High Pressure and Whistling Fog”

Our 1954 International Harvester John Bean High Pressure truck was to become the benchmark for all of our apparatus since. The John Bean High Pressure had a 300 gallon tank, high pressure discharges, electric generator, hydraulic extrication tools, lighting, and ‘Indian’ tanks and became the workhorse of the department through the 50’s and 60’s. With the ability to pump water, work accidents, and complete salvage operations, unit 4-EM was born. Shown with our first boat. When we retired this truck in 1977, it went first to the Village as a sewer jet, eventually going to the Village of West Haverstraw as a stake truck.  


“The Jaws and Covered Crew Bench”

Our 1977 FMC John Bean High Pressure truck was a logical replacement for the 1954 International. Designed with a covered crew bench and air pack racks behind the cab, this apparatus carried our first  ‘Jaws of Life’, had a permanent foam dispensing system, and carried 6 firefighters comfortably and safely under cover. The Village donated this truck and excess equipment to a village in the Dominican Republic. It is currently in service in that country.


“In Memory of Marshall”

Our active apparatus is a 1998 Saulsbury Heavy Rescue with a walk-up  Spartan/Gladiator chassis. This truck added integrated extrication tools, light tower, and a 4 stage Waterous pump to the tried and true design of truck 4-EM. Dedicated in memory of Marshall Slack Shulman.