Department History

Before the East Granby Volunteer Fire Department

Fire has always been the principal destroyer of property in town. Each time a fire broke out, townspeople did all they could to extinguish it with whatever water was available while they waited for fire trucks to arrive from adjoining towns. When the Congregational Church was threatened by a fire in its barn in 1925, the people talked, as they often did, about the need for a fire engine in town. In 1926 Town Clerk Frank H. Dibble's home burned to the ground. Luckily, the Simsbury Fire Department was able to control the blaze long enough for the safe in his basement office to be hoisted out, so most of the town records were saved.

Then in July 1929 at the Nicholson & Viets farm on Nicholson Road across from the Elmwood cemetery, a charcoal fire being used to dry tobacco ignited a conflagration that spread from the barn over cloth-covered tobacco fields from building to building. According to the newspaper Nicholson & Viets lost their barn and all its contents, another shed full of tobacco, a hired hand's house, and tobacco cloth over seventeen acres, which either burned or had to be torn down. The fire spread to Herman Vogt's property and he lost his house and a large tobacco shed. The Simsbury, Windsor, and Suffield fire companies prevented even greater loss. The only good result of the fire was the immediate formation of the East Granby Volunteer Fire Department.

Starting a Fire Department

After the fire at Nicholson & Viets farm, The East Granby Volunteer Fire Department was incorporated in 1929 to serve the town. James R. Miller was elected to serve as the first Fire Chief. Twenty-five men volunteered to serve the Department, and the town bought a 1929 Chevrolet pumper truck, Engine 1. The main chassis, purchased from the Adams & Woodworth (A&W) Motor Car Company of 26 South Main Street, traveled around the northeast to have components added in various places. Norman I. Adams went to Tarrytown, New York, to get the completed fire engine and drove it to town, where it was housed in addition to the A&W Company's garage. This building was later the town garage.

The firemen began their continual training under the leadership of Chief Miller, and they responded to their first fire in March 1930, just over the town line in Windsor. It was probably a chimney fire, a common occurrence in those days when many people heated their homes with wood. The men also began the card parties, turkey shoots, dances, clambakes, carnivals, and other socials that had raised the money for coats, boots, hoses, and other equipment. Before long, they were invited to all the parades and firemen's carnivals in the area to show their new truck.

Growing with the times

The fire department bought land for a firehouse in 1937 across from the cemetery in the Center, but did not build one. Instead, the town used the land for its town hall, which incorporated a garage for fire trucks. The town built a new town hall at 8 School St, west of the old one, in 1942. This brick building had a recreation room with a stage and kitchen on the second floor and town offices and a garage for two fire engines on the first. The firemen dammed Sheldon brook behind the building to make a pool from which they could supply their pumper with water, and the spot became a popular ice-skating place.

In March of 1958, the fire department bought its first two Scott Air-Packs. This was a monumental event in history because the Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) is one the most essential pieces of equipment a firefighter can have.

Development in the south of town spurred the building of a firehouse on the corner of South Main Street and Seymour Road in 1964, currently still in use, our Station 2. When the town hall on School Street burned in December 1968, only the town clerk's vault with the town records and fire trucks were saved. The town erected a freestanding firehouse at 6 Memorial Drive (the present quarters of the East Granby Ambulance Association), and the present town hall at 9 Center Street, which were completed in 1971.

In December of 1972, the EGFD took delivery of Engine 2, a Hahn pumper. It was put into service in February of 1973, replacing a Mack, which had been in service since 1945. In November of 1974, Tanker 4 was delivered.

In February of 1976, the fire department switched its dispatching services from Simsbury to Granby. Today, dispatch is handled through the Granby Police Department. The radio frequency used to dispatch the EGFD is Hartford County, 33.94. The EGFD's fire-ground frequency is 158.82. Back-up dispatch is handled through the fire dispatch office of the Simsbury Fire Department.

In May of 1979, the EGFD took delivery of Engine 3, another Hahn pumper. In October 1980, the by-laws were drafted for the EGFD's cadet program and the program was established in February of 1981. By July of 1981, Rescue 6 was delivered, a Chevrolet with an E-One rescue body. In March of 1984, Engine 5, another Chevrolet with an E-One body was delivered and by April it was put into service.

A year later in April of 1985, it was determined that it was time to purchase equipment to aid in the extrication of victims in motor vehicle accidents. The decision was made to fund-raise the money needed to purchase the equipment and by December of that year approximately enough money had been raised to purchase the equipment.

In December of 1988, the groundbreaking for the Public Safety Complex at 7 Memorial Drive began, and Station 1 is currently still in use as the departments headquarters. The Chief's office and department training facilities are located here.

In September of 1994, a committee is formed to start looking into the replacement of Engine 2. On July 24, 1996, Kovatch Mobile Equipment (KME) delivered the current Engine 2, and by September it was on-line. Many other changes also came in 1996. The EGFD purchased the former Tactical Unit 1 from the City of Hartford. It was repainted and put into service as Rescue 8. Rescue 6 was taken out of service, the rescue body was sold, and a utility body was put on. It was put back into service as Utility 6. Engine 9 was also put into service and quartered at Station 2 and Engine 5 was moved to Station 1.

In August of 1998, Tanker 4 underwent some major modifications as it was fitted with 10" dump valves on each side of the body. It was also equipped with a 4,000-gallon drop tank. These changes allowed for Tanker 4 to dump its supply of water into the drop tank and go to the nearest hydrant to refill while the firefighters on scene use the water in the drop tank.

The EGFD Today

Two major things happened in 2005 that brought the EGFD into the modern era. The first was the purchase of another KME pumper, an almost exact duplicate to Engine 2, this time replacing Engine 3. The second change was the renovation and modernization of Station 2. Improvements included extending the bays and installing taller doors, adding bathroom and shower facilities, a maintenance room, and a ready room for when firefighters are at the station.

As you can see, our Fire Department has come a long way in a little over 80 years. But there are still battles to be fought. We are constantly on the lookout for motivated individuals who would like to help their community. Currently we are at 28 members. Remember: one person could make all the difference! If you are interested or would like more information on joining, please visit the Join Us section of our website.

 
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