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Monsey Memories: The Columbian Fire Company

Monsey Memories: The Columbian Fire Company

Yitzy Fried 

The Columbian Fire Company is one of three fire stations serving the Spring Valley Fire Department and was founded in the year 1861. The Journal News writes in 1957: “Spring Valley’s Columbian Fire Company, No. 1, was organized June 24, 1861, the officers being Andrew Smith, foreman, John G. Cooper, assistant foreman; P.D. Van Orden, treasurer. The company was named in honor of Columbian Hook and Ladder Company, No. 141 of New York City. 

In 1986, the company celebrated 125 years since its establishment. 

At that time, the Journal News wrote the following article that gives insight into its history: 

When the Columbian Fire Engine Co. No. 1 began serving Spring Valley, firefighters had to cling to horse-drawn trucks on their way to fires. That was 125 years ago, and the company plans to celebrate its history on Saturday, starting with a parade at 2 p.m. 

"Those were the days," Robert Lindemann said.

Rounding street corners while holding onto the old engine by a leather strap, some of the firefighters would have to get off or risk falling as the horses pounded toward the fire locations, he said with a trace of glee. "The team (of horses) was always ready," Lindemann said.

Lindemann said he was with his father in 1927 on the roof of a large building on Madison Avenue in Spring Valley when the chimney collapsed. His father died from his injuries two days later.

“I was right there. The bricks hit me right in the back of the neck,” Lindemann recalled. 

He said the company operated a fire truck manufactured by the Pincher Co., and before that, horses drew a steamer. 

Rounding street corners while holding onto the old engine by a leather strap, some of the firefighters would have to get off or risk falling as the horses pounded to the fire locations, he said with a trace of glee. 

He said the company had about 41 men when he joined at a station off Main Street, the present location of a restaurant. The Columbian company, the oldest in the department, was organized under Andrew Smith, who commanded a horse-driven hand pumper from a station on North Jackson Street. 

Today, some 65 active members operate out of the quarters on West Street. The 1953 building houses two engines, one a tanker pumper manufactured by the Young Company and the other a pumper built by the Hahn Company, the chief said. 

According to Spring Valley Fire Chief Robert Capello, Columbian was the only fire company in Spring Valley until another was organized in 1903.

“For 42 years, we were the only company serving Spring Valley,” Capello reminisced. 



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