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Delmar Fire Department turns 100

A lot has changed since town's oldest department formed

The Delmar Fire Department this year is celebrating its 100th year of existence, after starting out with a single, horse-drawn hose cart in 1911.

Today, the department has two stations, an ambulance arm, several engines with hydraulic ladders and deck guns, and it responds to hundreds of calls every year. While much has changed, the department is staffed by 80 just 10 more volunteers than the original group noted on town documents when The Delmar Fire Company No. 1" was formed.

Since the beginning, firefighters have volunteered their service, as have the many members of other departments in town.

"While this might be about the 100th anniversary of the Delmar Fire Department, it's also about the volunteerism about all the firefighters and fire departments in town," said Steve Kroll, a spokesperson for the department. "It's sort of symbolic of the volunteerism of all of these people."

But looking back has been an enlightening experience for many members of the department, including commissioner, past chief and current historian Amos Bastiani. His research has revealed several surprises and a detailed history of the department's progression.

"We know that they formed the department in 1911," Bastiani said, adding that "There's reference to a fire department existing prior to that point."

The earliest mention that's been located is a clipping from an 1893 edition of the Altamont Enterprise, which has an item out of Delmar about "the fire department" responding to an exploding lamp. Praised for bravery were J. Welch and N. and F. Rowe.

"I think it was just a bunch of people getting together and doing it," said Bastiani of this early mention.

In 1911 however, things were made official. Alton C. Rowe was elected as the fire company's first captain (basically the chief). Some might speculate that his home's proximity to the firehouse and the fact he owned horses needed to pull the company's hose cart might have played a hand in his election victory.

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