One cold winter night, February fifteenth, in the
year Eighteen Fifty-Seven, a fire occurred in Liberty
which, in a great way, was responsible for the start
of the Liberty Fire Department.
Quinlan's "History of Sullivan" tells
us that a professional burglar, named Levi Rogers,
entered the store of Clements and Messiter, and after
removing some of the contents, set fire to the building.
Evidence found in the ruins let to Roger's arrest
and conviction. Two other buildings were also burned
in the fire.
after this fire, before 1861, two fire companies were
formed: Watkins Engine Co. #1 (J.C Young) and B.W
Winner Hook and Ladder
Co. #2 (Hose & Truck). Dr. John D. Watkins who
owned the property now occupied by the O.E.Kellers,
purchased a second-hand pump from a private hose company
in New York City for $325.00 and presented it to #1's.
The Winner Co. raised the money and ordered a ladder
wagon with twenty buckets. This equipment was made
in Liberty by Lamoreaox Brothers and served the Winner
Company so well that it was only taken out of service
in 1925 when a Packard chassis with Pirsch ladder
was purchased by the Village. We know very little
about the operation of these units until the incorporation
of the Village, September 1870.
The only two companies then active were the Hollock
Hose Co. now J.C. Young Co#1 and Liberty Hose &
Truck Co.#2, both located on or near Main Street.
Both companies had only hand-drawn equipment. There
was considerable delay before they arrived at a fire
on the hill in the station area. The streets then
were unpaved and sometimes knee deep in mud and in
the winter it was worse because the snow was deep.
A group of men living on the hill saw
a necessity to having some fire protection and decided
to do something about it. On the night of January
15, 1901, fifteen of these men met and founded the
Hose Co.#3. They then acquired a hose cart or jumper
which was a two-wheeled card carrying 500 feet of
2 1/2 inch hose, two open nozzles, a hydrant wrench
and a few spanners. From that time on the Liberty
Fire Department was made up of three companies that
still exist today as the Liberty Joint Fire District
located at 256 Sprague Ave., Liberty, NY.