HISTORY OF THE
BALDWINSVILLE FIRE DEPARTMENT
Fires have had more to do with the physical alteration of Baldwinsville and its economic life than any other single factor. Unfortunately there is little information of the early fire fighting.
The village became highly fire conscious when a fire in 1870 wiped out 13 south side businesses, including Heald, Sisco & Co., predecessor of Morris Machine Works. This brought about that firm's removal to its present location on Genesee Street. It should also be emphasized that Morris and its employees have always played a major part in the fire fighting in Baldwinsville.
In the period between 1882-1887, the village acquired a steamer pumper and leather hose. The volunteer fire department was disbanded and to so-called paid department was organized. The paid department consisted of 10 men and a chief.
The first major improvement in the fire fighting system came with the installation of the village water system with hydrants in 1890. Prior to that time water for fire fighting was pumped from the river or from a series of underground cisterns. In 1898 a hose cart with 900 feet of hose was purchased as was a hook and ladder. The equipment was sometimes pulled by hand and agreements were made with trucking companies that the first to attach to a cart and respond to a fire would receive $3.00
The next major improvement came in 1921 when the village acquired its modern fire fighting apparatus. A 750 gallon pumper built by American LaFrance was delivered and the Gamewell fire alarm system with alarm boxes installed throughout the village. The Gamewell system is still in use and just recently the pumper was returned to Baldwinsville.
On July 5th, 1942, ten men started the Baldwinsville Volunteer Fire Company which two of those men are still contributing a great deal to the fire department; they are past chief John Harrington and life member Ken Farrell.
In 1955, after much deliberation with village officials, a vote of the people approved a bond issue for the construction of a new fire station. In December of 1956 - a long awaited dream of the members of the fire department - the dedication of the new fire station. It has since been named the Howard B. Harrington Fire Station in honor of the man who served 32 years as chief.
1960 saw the purchase of the aerial ladder, a much needed piece of equipment and in 1964 a tanker-pumper was purchased. In 1970 the Richard Perkins Fire Station was built on the south side of the village to meet the projected growth on that side of town.
The History of The Maltese Cross
The badge of a fireman is the Maltese Cross. The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection; a badge of honor; and its story is hundreds of years old.
When a courageous band of Crusaders, known as the Knights of St. John, fought the Saracens for possession of the Holy Land, they encountered a new weapon unknown to European warriors. It was a simple, but horrible device of war. The Saracen's weapon was fire.
As the Crusaders advanced on the walls of a city, they were struck by glass bombs containing naphtha. When they became saturated with the liquid, the Saracens hurled a flaming torch into their midst. Hundreds of the Knights were burned alive; others risked their lives in an effort to save their brothers from painful fiery deaths.
Thus, these men became our first firemen, and the first of a long list of courageous fire fighters. Their heroic efforts were recognized by fellow Crusaders who awarded each hero a badge of honor - a cross similar to the one firemen wear today. Since the Knights of St. John lived for close to four centuries, on the island of Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, the Cross came to be known as the Maltese Cross.
The Maltese Cross is your symbol of protection. It means that the firemen who wears this cross is willing to lay down his life for you, just as the crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow man so many years ago. The Maltese Cross is a fireman's badge of honor, signifying that he works in courage - a ladder rung away from death.