A fire company for the Town of Beekman came into being in September of 1937 with the organization of the Beekman Fire Protectives and the approval by the State Comptroller and petition from the town board. William Gardner was elected President and Spencer Shepard Fire Chief. The first Board of Fire Commissioners consisted of N. Burr Reynolds, Grant Kendal, George Denny, William Gardner, P.F. Connelly and Holmes Knapp.
In July 1938, the Protectives put there first of equipment, a new Chevrolet Pumper into service. It soon saw service responding to the Dutchess Inn on Old Route 55. The Pawling News Chronicle praised the new firemen for “a good job of containing the fire to the bar area and the roof” and Treasurer Knapp reported the expenditure of seventeen cents for the pumpers gasoline.
The pumper was housed in an old horse shed alongside a garage which became the Poughquag Post Office. One section was insulated and furnished with a wood burning stove which was kept stoked by volunteers. In 1939, the Protectives were renamed the Beekman Fire Department. The Beekman Fire Company, Inc. was incorporated in 1957.
The Ladies Auxiliary was organized in 1945, with Mrs. Perry Ferris as its first President.
The Fire Police unit was organized in 1965.
The Beekman Rescue squad was organized in April 1967 with Mrs. Helen Woodin as its first President. The squad worked out of the back of a 1963 four-wheel utility truck until an ambulance was acquired and placed in service on February 24 1968. One hour after the ambulance was placed in service; the Squad rolled to a grass fire on Route 216 at Lime Ridge Road and aided an elderly woman suffering from smoke inhalation. The Rescue Squad acquired a 1970 Ford Van through fund raising drive and outfitted it for a backup ambulance.
The present town hall was erected in the years 1941-42 when the town’s population was under eight hundred.. The first floor provided a meeting room for residents of the township, a small kitchen and a small room used by the Town Board, Justice Court and members of the Fire Company. The lower level was used to house the few fire vehicles then owned by the District as well as the Highway Departments equipment. As the town grew, both the Highway Department and the Fire District acquired more equipment. To ease the crowding, a new Highway Garage was built and the lower level of the Town Hall was used for the Fire Department and Rescue Squad Vehicles.
By 1970 the town had grown to 5,701 people. A few years later the Town Board reached the conclusion that the lower level of the Town Hall would be needed for additional offices and storage space. Therefore the Board of Fire Commissioners and the Officers of the Fire Company were requested to take steps to provide a building to house the Districts equipment and apparatus.
The members of the Fire Company, with their own funds and at no cost to the taxpayers, purchased a suitable site at a foreclosure sale for $5,500 in 1972. In 1974 the membership purchased an adjacent lot. Both parcels were cleared and prepared by volunteer labor and equipment donated by local contractors. With the approval of a bond issued by voters, work was begun on the new firehouse, which was occupied on August 1, 1975.
The bond issue was financed through the Farmers Home Administration, the first time this agency had been involved with the firehouse funding. As a result the Fire District is paying a five percent interest on the money borrowed to construct the building instead of the 7 1/2 percent it would have paid if the bonds were floated in the municipal bond market. The lower interest rate will save the taxpayers of Beekman $161,875 over the thirty years of the loan.
In 1977 we raided funds to buy a Hurst Tool, also known as the “jaws of life”, a very expensive auto extrication hydraulic tool. We became one of the first volunteer companies in the area to acquire the Hurst Tool.
Our fleet of trucks started with a 1937 Chevrolet pumper. A Howe pumper (405) with a 1000 gallon tank was added in 1952.. The funds for this pumper were saved from carnivals that were held for several nights each, as well as from other events. In 1963, a four wheel drive GMC pickup truck (408) was purchased with funds earned by the firemen. Also in 1963, the Fire Company funds were used to purchase an old oil truck and convert it to a 1500 gallon tanker knows as 407. An additional piece of equipment, a Young 750 gpm pumper with a 1000 gallon tank (409) was purchased in 1967.
By 1970, a 1500 gallon tanker with a 750 gpm pump (407) was put into service replacing the converted oil truck, and in 1972 a Young 1000 gallon pumper with a 1000 gpm pump replaced the old Howe (405).
Our second 409 was new in 1985, an Emergency One custom Pumper with a 1250 gpm pump and 1000 gallon tank, and it replaced the old 409. 407 was completely refurbished by Amthor’s for us in 1985. Our latest new truck 406, is a 2000 gallon tanker made by Amthor’s. At the time, the total fleet included 405, 406, 407, 408, 409, Beekman Ambulance and Rescue II.
We had immediate use for the air bags we purchased in 1986 when they were used to move a large boulder which had pinned a young man during an excavation accident.