Alplaus Volunteer Fire Company Early Beginnings
Before 1900, the Alplaus area was a sparsely populated rural area; existing fire brigades in Schenectady or Scotia or local “Bucket Brigades” handled fire emergencies. Neither was a very effective means of fire protection.
In 1902, the Schenectady Railway Company built a trolley bridge across the Mohawk River, ending Alplaus. This produced a “building boom”, with easy access to Schenectady. This also increased possibility of fires.
One of the first such fires recorded occurred at 6:30 am, December 1, 1908 at the Morris residence on the corner of Alplaus Avenue and Brookside Place. Despite the efforts of neighbors using a chemical fire extinguisher on wheels which was brought over from McLanes’s Hotel in Rexford behind a team of horses driven by J.A. Boyce, by noon time there was nothing left but a smoldering foundation.
This created an immediate interest in the purchase of fire truck for Alplaus, however, funds were never raised.
A few years later, Hanigan’s Coal Yard at the railroad crossing on Alplaus Avenue burned. A small part of the facility was saved by water pumped from a D&H locomotive tender that had been brought from Schenectady.
Interest in the fire protection increased to a point where two gentlemen organized the Alplaus Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. in 1917. A shed was built to house fire buckets and a locomotive tire for use as an alarm gong was mounted at the corner of Alplaus Avenue and Mohawk Avenue. A fire district was created with boundaries extending from the Scotia Village line to High Mills on route 50 to the Saratoga County line, a much larger district than at present!
Ten years later, this group formed the nucleus of the Alplaus Volunteer Fire Company No. 1.
After several major fires in the area the time seemed right to establish a proper fire department in Alplaus. On September 11, 1928, the Glenville Town Board formed Glenville Fire District No. 2. This district is much smaller than the one created in 1917. On the following December 3rd a Board of Fire Commissioners was elected. The first Commissioners were:
• Chester W. Mathews
• George J. Pfaffenbach
• Willet B. Bruce
• Ira A Tripp, Treasurer
During 1929 and 1930, this group addressed the many issues of forming a fire department apparatus, housing and lastly man power.
During this time the Commissioners purchased the land for the current station on Alplaus Avenue and erected a one bay station in 1931 for $6,026. In 1949, this building was doubled in size to accommodate another pumper at a price of $29,000.
With the delivery of the new Buffalo pumper in April of 1931, the old LafRance chemical truck was housed in a rented garage on Glenridge Road between the underpasses to provide protection on the other side of the D&H tracks.
In 1934, it was realized the LaFrance at the Glenridge Station should be replaced, so a ford one and a half ton chassis was purchased and after much effort by a few members a pump was mounted, and the body from the LaFrance attached and it was painted a proper color.
This Glenridge unit operated until the late 1940‘s when Bruce Drive was constructed. At this time, a 1948 Mack pumper was added to the fleet and the station was increased in size. The old Glenridge units later found about 1980 in Wadhams, New York where Ray Granados of Bowie, Maryland obtained it as a collectors item.
In 1959, the 1930 Buffalo was replaced by a current year Mack Pumper. The Buffalo was sold to Harmony Corners Fire Department, Saratoga County and is still operated as a Parade Unit.
1966 saw two events, which affected the Alplaus Fire Department.
The first was the establishment of Glenville water District 11, which gave us hydrants throughout the area.
The second event was the closing of Alplaus Avenue for the construction of the new bridge. Since this effectively isolated the Mohawk Avenue neighborhood a 1957 Dodge pickup truck was purchased equipped and stationed at the member’s home on Mohawk Avenue for the Duration of the construction. Fortunately, its services were never required.
About 1970, with the increasing demand for emergency medical service, a small Chevrolet van was obtained as a donation from General Electric to service as a Rescue Truck. It was completely overhauled and equipped by the members for its duty.
In 1980, when a larger unit replaced this truck, it necessitated the construction of an addition at the rear of building. This was accomplished through the labor of the members.
In 1977 the members rallied around and built a 30 foot x 50 foot picnic pavilion. Over the ensuing years several enlargement and improvements have been done including an enclosed kitchen.
1983 the Board of Fire Commissioners opted to build a 40 foot x 50 foot addition to the Fire Station, known as west bay.
In the late 1980‘s there were a number of incidents on the Mohawk River and it was deemed necessary to obtain a boat to used for calls on the water. A Yankee Airboat was purchased so that it could be operated on water and ice. The purchase was made possible through a Grand from senator Hugh T. Farley of Niskayuna.
In September 2000 the arrival of a new American LaFrance Pumper was added.