Watkins Glen Fire Department proudly protects 5000 people living in an area of 57.7 square miles. We operate out of 1 station that protects a primarily rural area. Our department is a public department whose members are on a volunteer status.
This is a brief history. Since 1852, this organization has changed names, locations, equipment and personnel many times. It all began as Seneca Hose Company #1. James Haywood was the first foreman of this fifty man bragade, I say a brigade because, that's what it was, a bucket brigade. Four years later another company surfaced, Ballard Hook & Ladder. On March 27th, 1862, the Board of Trustees of the village of Watkins Glen passed local Ordinance # 7, chartering the fire department. The new department had a chief ehgineer, one assistant chief and as many engine, hook & ladder, bucket brigades or other companies as designated by the board. After fifteen years, Seneca Hose Company disbanded, forming other fire companies, Champion Hose, Glen Hose, Lake Hose, along with Ballard Hook & ladder. In 1875, the trustees purchased a hand engine; Citizen # 5. Glen Hose Company had the responsibility for the new pumper. The other equipment at this time consisted of 2 hand engines, 1 hook & ladder and 3 hand drawn hose carts. ( an 1862 Silsby still is in our possesion!) Properties near 5th St., Durland Ave. and North Glen Ave. housed hose carts. The fire companies didn't own horses. The local stable owners furnished horses to pull the engines when needed. August 3, 1880 the trustees purchased a LaFrance steamer, including 750' of hose, for $3,000. Three monthes later, when the Jefferson barn burnt, this very wise purchase was used to save the business district. August 5,1896, Norman Steamer & Hose Company was formed. August 4, 1910, Ballard Hook & Ladder became Rescue Hook & Ladder. These two companies later consolidated in 1962, forming the present day, Watkins Glen Fire Department. There has been much change over the years. Fire prevention education, fire fighting tactics, Emergency Medical Services and remarkable advancements in fire fighting equipment, have changed the face of our department. The numbers of responses have lessoned and when called upon, situations are handled, quickly and safely. Now, one firefighter with one pumper can flow more water at idle, than Seneca Hose Company's buckets could deliver with all 50 men ! Department names, station locations, equipment and personnel have changed several times, but the message remains the same. PROTECT, PRESERVE AND SERVE. Now the Watkins Glen Fire Department is staffed by 60 Volunteer Firefighters. The Equipment is owned by the Village of Watkins Glen and they contract to provide services for The Village of Watkins Glen and two additional Townships (Dix & Reading). The area is mostly rural. The population swells greatly in the summer with tourists, and motor racing events like Watkins Glen International Raceway's NASCAR's Bud at The Glen (150,000 + spectators). We also have offer EMS Rescue Squad, an active Rope Rescue Team that provides high angle rescue services to our residents and Watkins Glen State Park Gorge (over 1 million visitors during the sumer of 97). New York State Electric & Gas has natural gas storage deep under ground in abandoned salt caverns. Texas Eastern's terminal north of the village, is a major storage and distribution point for the northeastern United States. This location controls pipe line operations and fills many propane tank trucks. We are located on the southern end of the largest Finger Lake, Seneca. In the Heart of The beautiful Fingers Lakes Wine Country.