Story by Lourice Angie
The history of the Goodwill Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1 dates back to 1887 when it was announced by the Warwick Valley Dispatch that on Jun. 1, Dr. T. H. Cooper would give $150 towards the formation and equipping of a hook and ladder company in the Village of Warwick. In 1889 a formal application was made to the Village trustees for a hook and ladder fire company. The application was approved and the fire company – Goodwill Hook & Ladder Co. #1 was organized on Jan., 25, 1890.
The original company consisted of 25 volunteers and was quartered in what was called the white elephant. The company was accepted by the Village Board of Trustees on Apr. 7, 1890. On Apr. 17, 1890 the first meeting of the new company was held in the meeting room of the Excelsior Hose Co. By Jun. 1, 1891, the Village rented the Hook and Ladder company quarters in the Village Hall building, located at 77 Main St.
The company, then simply known as the Hook and Ladder, made their first public appearance in the Memorial Day Parade of 1890. The first listed officers that year included: Foreman, William Colsen; 1st Assistant, Fred Quackenbush; 2nd Assistant, Al Burke; Secretary, William J. Miles; and Treasurer Rev. D.C. Litchfield of the Calvary Baptist Church who was also the Chaplain. It was Rev. D.C. Litchfield, who gave the new company the name Goodwill.
In June of 1891, the company purchased their first piece of apparatus, created by Charles Decker. Chief S.S. Van Saun and H.K. Wood made up the committee in charge of selecting and purchasing the ladder truck, which was paid for by the company with money raised by holding dances, etc. The men visited New York City to inspect different types of trucks. By Nov. 12, 1891, a hand drawn rig, manufactured by the Gleanson and Bally Co. of Seneca Falls, NY, was purchased for $538.98.
Although primarily used as a hand drawn rig, it was very often pulled by a team of horses, usually supplied when available by Charles Decker. The truck was first displayed publicly during the Thanksgiving Parade of 1891. It wasn’t until Jun. 17, 1898 that the company was officially incorporated and the original document can still be found at the Goodwill hook & Ladder fire station, preserved under glass.
In 1924, the body of the hand drawn rig was transferred to a Reo Truck chassis with a 30-gallon chemical tank by the McPeek Motor Co., of Warwick, at a cost of $1,390. The truck was eventually replaced again in 1939 by a 1938 Ward LaFrance fire truck purchased at a cost of $7,700 with a $250 allowance for the Reo truck being traded in. The Ward LaFrance was replaced in 1959 with a 1959 American LaFrance fire truck on an international chassis costing $32,733 with an allowance of $1,000 for the Ward LaFrance.
A Permanent Home
In May 1978, the Goodwill Hook & Ladder Company, along with the Excelsior Hose Company, relocated to 25 Church St., also known as Station #1, where they still reside. It is one of the four companies of the Warwick Fire Department (WFD) and is known by their nickname, the Hooks, within the department.
The Company Today
The current Goodwill Hook & Ladder Co. President, Thomas G. Gove, says the company now has a total of 35 active members. Some are considered interior firefighters who require extensive training before they can be allowed to safely go into a burning structure. The Hooks recently purchased a Pierce Mid-Mount Ladder Truck which allows them to better serve the community.
In addition, there is the junior membership program where 16-year-olds can join the Warwick Fire Department (WFD) and then a company in order to learn the basic skills of fire fighting, assisting at a scene or being supervised as an exterior firefighter. Once a junior firefighter turns 18 and is evaluated as a well trained firefighter, they then may become an interior qualified member.
Proudly Serving the Community
Goodwill Hook & Ladder Co. No 1, as well as the other companies that make up the WFD consist of two sides: the firematic and the civil side. The firematic side includes the Hook’s Fire Chief Phil Cialella, Captain Rob Pappas, First Lieutenant Scott Lemin, and Second Lieutenant Tom Cosgrove. Officers on the civil side include President Tom Gove, Vice President Dan Geoghan, Treasurer Bill Lindberg, and the department secretary of 44 years, Alan Baird.
“This year the Warwick Fire Department is celebrating its 150th year of existence. We, of the Goodwill Hook & Ladder, have served for nearly 130 years in the Department. We are proud to serve the Warwick Community,” said President Gove.
WFD 150th Committee Seeks Historic Memorabilia
Sharing and celebrating the history of the WFD is a great way to help highlight the department’s pride. One of the committee’s biggest goals is obtaining even more stories and the names of past volunteers. Many of the founding members, early contributors, and important leaders have passed on. Unfortunately, they have taken many of the great stories with them.
A group of longtime WFD members have formed a WFD Historic Committee. The Committee meets monthly at the Church St. station and hopes to gather as much information, photos, and memorabilia as they can for their archives. Many historic black-and-white photos currently hang on the walls and offices of each fire house.
The Committee is asking for donations of memorabilia or pictures to be preserved for future generations. They also need help in identifying past members in the old photos. To donate or for more information send an email to Blaze1869@hotmail.com.
Anyone who is interested in joining the Warwick Fire Department can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.