PLATTSBURGH -- More than a dozen firefighters somberly watched their flag be lowered Sunday as dispatch sounded the final call for Rescue Hose Co. No. 5.
The fire company was founded in 1895, and in 1981, it refocused its mission to become a primary source of air supply for firefighters throughout Clinton County.
"We have two trucks, 291 and 292, that hold tanks. We fill those tanks with clean air using an air compressor, and then we bring them to the scene of fires," said Kelly Donoghue, president and chaplain at Rescue Hose 5.
"We're there for the firefighters. If they need a backup tank, Rescue Hose has it ready for them."
As of Dec. 31, Rescue Hose 5 will no longer be active in the community.
The City of Plattsburgh had paid about $30,000 a year to support the department, with each fire company in the county chipping in $700.
The city, facing financial strains, decided in May to cut the Rescue Hose 5 budget.
The closing ceremony held Sunday signified the end of more than 110 years of dedicated service.
"It is a sad day," said Scott Alger, fire-prevention chairman of Rescue Hose 5.
"But with the economy, taxes, fuel prices and everything else, the budget had to be cut. Unfortunately, our station was part of the cut."
Rescue Hose 5 Fire Chief Keith Matott said the company was given many options, but the best solution available was to close and merge with Mooers and South Plattsburgh fire departments.
"Our trucks will be going to Mooers and South Plattsburgh, and most of our members will be transferring to different stations as well. I'll be going to Beekmantown as a firefighter."
One of the quietest attendees Sunday was Ambrose Kipp, an 85-year-old active firefighter for Rescue Hose 5. He has been with the company since 1949 and continues to serve the department on a regular basis.
"He drives the truck for parades, helps organize special events and attends all the county meetings as a delegate," Alger said. "He has never officially retired."
At one point in the mid-1960s to mid-1970s, Kipp and six of his sons were steady firefighters for Rescue Hose 5.
"Roll call was funny because all you would hear is, "'Kipp, Kipp, Kipp, Kipp, Kipp, Kipp, and Kipp,'" laughed Bruce Kipp, one of Ambrose's sons.
"We've since all gone off to different stations and departments, but father has stayed at Rescue Hose."
PARADE OF TRUCKS
As part of the closing ceremony, Rescue Hose 5 was saluted by a parade of trucks from all the fire departments they have served over the years. The trucks slowly circled the station, blowing horns and blaring sirens, as fellow firefighters waved goodbye to Rescue Hose 5.
Afterward, Donoghue gave a short speech and thanked everyone for attending the ceremony. The station's flag was lowered and presented to Ambrose Kipp for his 59 years of hard work and loyalty.
"I have mixed feelings about today," Matott said. "I'm excited to face new challenges and begin the next chapter, but it's disheartening to watch this station close after so many years."
After the ceremony, Rescue Hose 5 members posed for pictures, shared memories and discussed plans for the future.
"I'm just glad our mission is being upheld by Mooers and South Plattsburgh fire departments," Donoghue said. "We're really appreciative, and we hope to see our station live on through them."
Shortly after the symbolic closing ceremony for Rescue Hose 5 ended, the fire company was back on duty -- alerted to a structure fire on Stafford Road.
The firefighters immediately geared up, filled air tanks and headed out to continue their community mission.
Courtesy The Press Republican