The Ellington Volunteer Fire Department became a reality on Oct. 23, 1925, at a meeting in the Grange Hall. At a meeting shortly thereafter 24 men joined as members. The first fire hall had originally been a blacksmith shop and was purchased for $700. The first piece of firefighting apparatus was purchased in 1926, was a used chemical truck with three soda and chemical tanks. This unit served the department until 1941 when a Chevy truck was purchased with a Panama pump and small booster tank. In late 1945 it was replaced by a Army surplus 4-wheel drive Chevy pumper.
In 1952 the department purchased its first new fire truck from JNK of Jamestown, it was a 1952 Ford chassis with a 500 gpm mid-ship pump and 500-gallon water tank. The bell and booster reels from the first truck were remounted on this pumper. This truck remained in use until 2000 when it was sold to an individual from Pennsylvania.
During 1954 the fire department acquired an old 20,000-gallon railroad tank car and buried it in the northeast corner of the town square to serve as a water storage tank for firefighting use, especially during the dry summer months when the creeks often dry up. That tank is still in use as are two 26,000 tanks that were purchased and buried in 1988, one near the new town hall and the other on Route 83 in Conewango Valley. A fourth one, 15,000-gallon tank, donated by William Carlson was buried and placed into service in 1995 on Bates Road.
In 1959 the department purchased its first tanker, a 1,500-gallon used gasoline tanker, and after many hours of refurbishment the unit was placed into service. The first addition to the fire hall also occurred at this time making room for the new taker. In 1963 as more and more firemen became involved in first aid Ellington purchased a 1963 Ford Econoline van to transport patients with becoming one of the first in the county to have an ambulance. In 1967 the firemen purchased a base station radio and a 1967 Ford chassis 4-wheel-drive front-mounted pumper, this unit is still in service today having been refurbished in 1986 with a newer style pumper body and tank.
In 1977 a new Ford American fire truck pumper was purchased and placed into service with a 1000-gpm midship pump and 750 gallons of water. In 1996 that truck was replaced with the first of two 4Guys pumpers on a Freightliner chassis' and sold to the Falconer Rotary in October 1996. The rotary with assistance from Rotary Club International, then refurbished it preparing it for its new life and home in Arica Chile. Their fire chief and assistant came to this area for a week of training during June 1997 with the members of the Ellington Fire Department. After over two years of red tape and required official approvals the truck finally arrived in Arica Chile in September 1998.
In 1993 with the purchase of a new ambulance the members decided to keep the old 1980 ambulance and convert it into a miscellaneous unit carrying turnout gear, self contained breathing airpacks and other assorted rescue equipment. In 1995 the fire department purchased a Chevy Kodiak chassis with a 16-foot box to be used as a new miscellaneous vehicle. In 2009 the fire district purchased a used chassis with a Marion rescue body at a surplus action. In 2010 that body was remounted onto a 2010 Freightliner chassis and became a new heavy rescue unit for the fire department carrying all types of equipment that may be needed at an emergency scene.
Other trucks have come and gone over the years with the department currently operating with a 1996 and a 2000 Freightliner 4Guys 1250-gpm pumpers, a 1967 Ford American 500-gpm front-mounted 4-wheel-drive pumper, a 2004 Freightliner 4Guys 2,200-gallon tanker, a 2010 Freightliner Marion heavy rescue, a 2006 Ford Med Tech ambulance and an 2002 Polaris ATV and rescue sled. There are currently 12 NYS certified Emergency Medical technicians, two 50-year members, Lewis Rice and Burdette Howe, and 60 active members. Membership includes lifetime, social, active and a junior firefighter Explorer group. The fire department auxiliary has 20 members
In 1977 the new fire truck would not fit through the current overhead door so temporary modifications to the doorway were made. In 1978-79 a new bay was added to the west side of the original building to accommodate this truck and new restrooms and a kitchen were added. In 1990 the department purchased the house and property just east of the fire hall and in September of 1991 moved into a new five-bay truck room attached to the eastside of the original building with the assistance of a USDA loan. Soon after that, the old truck room was converted into a modern dinning and activities hall and new larger kitchen installed.
In 1962 the department started cooking chicken and serving barbeque chicken dinners as a fund raising effort. That tradition continues 50 years later as the department holds seven regular barbecues each year, April to October. In addition to the regular dinner schedule they also custom cook chicken barbecues for clubs, parties, weddings, farm days, etc., cooking over 2100 chicken halves during September of this year. In addition to the chicken barbecues the annual fire department fund drive is held in October each year during fire prevention week and an annual Turkey Party is held the first Friday night in November.
In 1995 a Junior Fire Fighter Explorer program was started thru the Boy Scouts of America. Several junior firefighters from this program have joined our fire department or other fire departments in the area and gone on to become captains or assistant Fire Chiefs. There are currently 10 junior firefighters in the Explorer group who are learning the ins and outs of becoming firefighters and joining the fire department. Youth must be 14 years old in order to join the group.
50-year members: Burdette Howe, Lewis Rice
Robert S. Rhinehart
Robert E. Rhinehart