Lake George Fire Department: Serving Community on Land and Water
The Lake George Fire Department answers hundreds of calls during the course of a year.
One of its most overlooked and perhaps underappreciated services is the rescue boat it maintains.
“It answers any alarm on the lake,” said Dennis Galloway, a former long-time firefighter and active fire company supporter. “Our basic service area is the lower half of the lake from Bolton Landing south. However, we have gone as far north as Hague.”
In summer, the boat is docked at the foot of Amherst Street, near the Shepard Park Beach.
The all-volunteer fire department, first organized on Aug. 8, 1891, celebrated its 122nd birthday this week. It is owned by the Village of Lake George, but relies heavily on public donations for specialized equipment and services. The department is currently undertaking a fundraising campaign.
Galloway, a Poughkeepsie native and U.S. Army veteran, moved to Lake George as a young man and was an active fireman for 26 years beginning in 1948, after returning home from the Pacific in World War II. He is still a fire department member.
Both Lake George as a community and firefighting techniques have changed dramatically since Galloway first joined. Volunteers must undergo extensive training, quite often at their own expense, to keep up with constantly changing practices and regulations.
Also, the department responds to all kinds of calls that require sophisticated training, from environmental contamination to serious motor vehicle accidents.
The rescue boat is just one of the department’s many services that the public perhaps knows little about, and may take for granted.
In 2011, the boat sustained about $12,000 worth of damage from the late summer storms Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, Galloway said. Insurance covered about $9,000 worth of repairs and the $3,000 difference was paid for by contributions including a $2,000 gift by Lake George Rotary Club, Galloway said.
The Lake George Fire Company, a separate non-profit entity under the fire department, provides fire education and safety programs as well as water rescue services not funded through taxation, Galloway said.
The acquisition and most maintenance of the boat has been funded through the years largely by donations, fund-raisers and grants such as the Rotary Club’s gift, he said.
“The rescue boat is a critical piece of equipment and has been in operation for more than 15 years on Lake George,” Galloway said. “It is the only rescue boat on the lower half of the lake staffed by volunteers.”
In addition to this marine service, the fire department also has its own scuba team that responds to calls with an Achilles Dive Boat.
The department was first organized by the town and then reorganized by the village on Aug. 8, 1891. At the time, it was called the James H. Carpenter Hose Co. No. 1 of Lake George, named after a prominent Lake George citizen.
In the mid-1890s it was changed to the Lake George Hose Company and then in 1930 to the Lake George Fire Department.
The James H. Carpenter Hose Co. No. 1 of Lake George was formed after a disastrous fire at the Hubbell Saw Mill on May 28, 1890. The sawmill, which was located on Lake Avenue, was owned by F. B. Hubbell and his two sons. There was no fire insurance and it put 30 people out of work.
Today, the department has a new fire station located at the corner of Ottawa and Amherst streets.
Line officers are 1st Assistant Chief Jason Carmody, 2nd Assistant Chief: Paul Sullivan, Captain: Jason Berry, 1st Lieutenant: Mike Berry, 2nd Lieutenant: Matt Oswald.
Company officers are President Barb McGuirk, Vice President Hank Chrzanowski, Secretary and Treasurer Hugh Sullivan, Board of Directors Howard MacDonald Jr., Chris McGuirk and Don Fangboner.
The department, which has about 45 members, held its annual membership meeting on Tuesday and is always looking for new people who wish to actively participate as firefighters or fire police.
For information contact Chief Alan Moon by calling (518) 668-5083, extension 11. The public’s support is needed to keep the department fully maintained and equipped. Donations may be sent to PO Box 828, Lake George, NY 12845.