The Story

 

In 1889, the Schunnemunk Lodge, No. 276, of the Knights of Pythias was established in
Highland Mills. Being that the members were all civic minded, they decided to form a
dedicated force of men to provide fire protection within Highland Mills. Thus the precursor
to what would become the Highland Mills Fire Company was established in 1890. They
met on the second floor of the east wing in the meeting hall of the Highland Mills Hotel,
which sat at the corner of what is today Park Avenue and Route 32. George A. Lamoreaux
was the proprietor of the hotel, a member of the Knights of Pythias, and a charter member
of the fire company.

 

The membership reached 60 members and the first officers were:
George Cromwell, President; Edgar L. Requa, Vice President; Harry Cromwell, Treasurer/Secretary; and William Frost, Foreman. The company continued to meet in the hotel untilthe Knights of Pythias Hall (in the location of the current Town Hall) was built.


In 1899, both Highland Mills and Central Valley met in their own districts regarding forming
fire districts. Mr. Cowan, president of the Central Valley-Highland Mills Water Company,
reported that there were 23 or 24 hydrants in town. There was no movement in terms of
forming an official fire district until the great fire in the Knights of Pythias building on April
30, 1900. The town clerk, and member of the fire company, Harry Cromwell, was credited
with saving the town records. Action was finally taken on forming the fire districts and in
1902, they were officially formed in both Highland Mills and Central Valley. The Highland
Mills meeting was held in the Highland Mills Hotel, ironically in the same hall where the
fire company first met in 1890. Three fire commissioners were elected to serve three
years. They were George W. Green, Harvey Birdsall, and Israel Owens.


On December 14, 1904, the Highland Mills Fire Company was officially organized with
the following officers: George Cromwell, president; Belding S. Pembleton, vice president;
Israel Owens, treasurer; Harry K. Eames, secretary; and Nathan Lent, assistant
secretary. In that same year, the company purchased a hose cart and hose and
constructed a small apparatus room west of Route 32 behind what would become the first
firehouse. Meetings were held on the second floor of the new Highland Improvement
Building, which sat on the site of the former Knights of Pythias building (and the building
that is now Town Hall). In early 1906, the fire company started the process of obtaining
an official charter from the State of New York. The charter was officially granted on May
26, 1906. In 1908, the first badges were purchased, which were about the size of a ten
cent piece. The company also fielded a basketball team in 1908 and 1909, but that was
short lived as the team folded due to lack of interest (and opponents). Many members of
the company were also members of the Highland Mills Band, which was very popular in
the area. The band rented the fire room in the Highland Improvement Company Building
once a week and would be associated with the company for years to come. In 1911, the
first 12 uniforms were ordered followed by another 6 in January 1912. In June of 1912,
the Monroe Fire Department invited the fire company to march in their parade in
September 1912. This would be the first parade in which the fire company marched and
the Highland Mills Band would lead the men in formation.

 

In July 1913, the firecommissioners purchased two extension ladders, one 30 foot and one 40 foot, for the useof the company. In September 1913, Harry Knight Eames was elected the first officialchief of the Highland Mills Fire Company, as up to that point, the foreman was considered
the head of the company for firematic purposes. In October 1913, the Randolph Thorne
and Elbert L. Fitch came in front of the company to explain the need for a new piece of
apparatus. The company agreed and committed up to $200 for the purchase of a new
hose cart. The remainder, if needed, was requested from the commissioners. The
company also requested an additional $35 from the commissioners to purchase chemical
extinguishers. In January 1914, the fire commissioners purchased a new hose cart and a
chemical engine for the use of the company. The new hose cart (Hose Co. #2) was placed
on the ridge (in the area of what is now Ridge Road) near to Frank Hunter’s farm. In early
1914, William Armstrong donated a windmill for the company to use as its first fire whistle.
The members of the company dismantled the windmill and re-assembled it on the
Townsend property, behind what would become the company’s first firehouse. In
December 1914, the company decided to change from a company to a department, and
would remain so for the next 28 years until the formation of the Woodbury Fire District. In
January 1915, Mark Leonard and Joshua Cromwell were appointed the first delegates to
the Orange County Volunteer Firemen’s Association. In October 1915, the first honorary
firemen were chosen as George (J. J.) M. Cohan, Charles Rushmore, and Richard E.
Thibault, all prominent men of society with local ties. A ladder cart was purchased
sometime in 1917 and the first hook and ladder was placed into service in January 1918.


In March of 1920, the company established a committee to investigate purchasing a lot
for a new firehouse. Later in the month all members voted in favor of purchasing property
and each member was responsible for buying shares that would total $2,200 for the
construction. Each share was $5 with interest of 6% and no member was allowed to buy
more than $500 worth of stock. In April, the deed of Ella Lamoreaux’s property was
searched for potential use in locating a new firehouse. The land, which sat on Route 32
next to the Highland Improvement Company building, was purchased later that month. In
mid-1921, the company sought out a meeting with Central Valley Fire Company to obtain
new apparatus for both districts. This would lead to both companies obtaining new
American LaFrance engines the following year. In December 1921, the idea of securing
plans for remodeling the firehouse (the old apparatus/hose room) and securing plans for
a new firehouse was introduced. A committee of seven was appointed to begin the
process. In January 1922, the committee presented a set of plans for remodeling the
existing firehouse and building an addition for the anticipated new fire engine. On May
22, 1922, a motion was made to ask all present members whether or not they would
support a new firehouse instead of remodeling the old one. It was unanimous and the
amount to spend on the new firehouse construction was set at $7,500. The same
committee that secured plans for the remodeling, were appointed on the new building
committee. In September of 1922, a new American LaFrance engine was delivered,
followed by the firehouse construction being substantially complete in October of 1923.


It is believed that Charles E. Rushmore donated a Pierce-Arrow Touring car to the fire
company in the 1920’s (sometime between 1926 and 1928). The men of the company
completely re-assembled the car to carry two 35 gallon chemical tanks, 200 feet of
chemical hose and a 20 foot extension ladder.


In 1942, both the Central Valley Fire Company and the Highland Mills Fire Company were
joined and the Woodbury Fire District was formed encompassing the entire Town of
Woodbury. The first Chief of the new district was Robert Cromwell, Sr. from Highland
Mills. In December 1973, the first female member, Debra Hauser, was elected. In 1997,
due to space limitations, and the general age of the existing firehouse, plans for a new
firehouse were secured. The firehouse, dedicated on October 4, 1997, is the current
home of the Highland Mills Fire Company and is known as Station 1. In 2007, the people
of the town elected to create a village encompassing the entire boundary of the town. This
resulted in the Woodbury Fire District being terminated due to state law.

 

The department
would now be under the control of the Village of Woodbury Board and is currently known
as the Village of Woodbury Fire Department.

History of HMFC

Old Barn where current Station 1 is located off Route 32.jpg
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American LaFrance at John Poore House Fire 1941.jpg
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1971 Ladder (1962 utility truck).jpg
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1922 Oct Parade 2.jpg
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1920s Pierce Arrow Touring Car.jpg
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1922 Oct Parade 1.jpg
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Group firemen in front of funeral home
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Firemen HM Elm Street
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Firemen Group HM RT 32
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1/3

Highland Mills Fire Department


Foreman
William E. Frost (1890‐1908)
William E. Monroe (1909‐1910)
Randolph S. Thorne, Sr. (1911‐1913)


Chief
Harry K. Eames (1914‐1918)
Alois P. Muckenhoupt (1918‐1919)
Samuel F. Cole (1919‐1921)
Frank E. Hunter (1921‐1922)
Clarence T. Turner (1922‐1923)
Robert L. Cromwell, Sr. (1923‐1942)

Highland Mills & Central Valley Fire Departments formed Woodbury Fire Department in 1942.
First Chief of Department elected in April, 1942

Robert L. Cromwell, Sr.  1942‐1943
Leroy Fowler  1944‐1945
Carl Earl 1946‐1947
Fred Adams  1948‐1949
Roscoe Hunter 1950‐1951
Robert L. Cromwell, Jr.  1952‐1953
Mark O'Brien  1956‐1957
Walter Carey, Jr.  1958‐1960
George Van Houten 1962‐1965
Adrian Jones  1968‐1969
Henry Potter  1970‐1974
Albert Lewis  1976‐1977

Kenneth Jones  1977‐1980
Glenn Hansen  1980‐1985
Scott D. McClennan, Sr.  1985‐1989
John Jones  1992‐1995
Scott D. McClennan, Jr.  1995‐1999
James W. Reilly  1999‐2001
Clifford Weeks, Jr.  2001‐2003
Dominick Prozzillo  2007‐2009
John Jones 2009‐2011
Scott D. McClennan, Jr.  2011‐2013
Pasqaule Prozzillo 2013‐2015
Scott D. McClennan, Jr. 2015‐2017

John Jones 2017

Dominick Prozzillo 2017-present

Woodbury Fire Department
Chief of Department‐Highland Mills Members

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George Cromwell (1890‐1907)
A. V. Wells (1908)
George Cromwell (1909‐1910)
William Wilson (1911‐1912)
F. K. Lynch (1913)
Elbert L. Fitch (1914‐1918)
William Tannery (1919)
Frances Earl (1920)
Henry Hull (1921‐1931)
Walter Belding (1932)
Theodore Jones (1933)
Howard Barton (1934)
William Roche (1935)
David W. Adams (1936‐1937)

Edward E. Jones (1938‐1939)
F. Lee Blanche (1940)
R. Henry Hull (1941‐1942)
Roscoe Hunter (1943)
Carl Earl (1944-1945)

Edward E. Jones (1946)

Edward Lasell (1947-1948)

Fred Adams (1949-1950)
Alfred Paas (1951)
William Wilson, Jr. (1952)
Bryant Cocks (1953)
Robert L. Cromwell, Sr. (1954)
Walter Carey, Jr. (1955)
Walter Stanfield (1956)
Mark O'Brien (1957)
William Hunter (1958)
Miles Conklin, Sr. (1959‐1966)
Bryant Cocks (1967)
Ferris Tomer (1968‐1969)
Albert Lewis (1970‐1973, 1977‐1980)
Kenneth Jones (1974‐1977)
Sal Pelo (1981‐1984)
Clifford Weeks Sr. (1985‐1989)
William McClennan (1990‐2000)
Scott Danielson (2001‐2012)
Douglas DeSisto (2013‐2016)

Dominick Prozzillo (2016-present)

Highland Mills Fire Company Presidents

 
 
 
 

Title. Double click me.

 

16mm film courtesy of the James Seaman family.