Concern about fire protection in the town of Gerry had its beginnings in the early 1900s when a group of citizens mounted two brass tanks filled with water to a two-wheeled wooden cart pulled by hand.
When soda and acid were added to the tanks, the mixture created pressure to spray the contents onto a fire. This apparatus was the town's only protection until the late 1920s, when these same two tanks were mounted to a 1924 Model T chassis to create Gerry's first motorized fire truck.
By 1942 the residents saw a need for an organized fire department, and the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department was organized that year with about 50 members. The incorporation was finalized in 1943. One of the their first decisions was to upgrade their equipment. A large used water tank was purchased and a used GMC logging truck was bought from a resident of Ellington. These were then sent to the Cayster Manufacturing Company in Buffalo for installation of a pump and conversion to a fire truck. Because the company was building equipment for the war effort, work on the truck was limited to weekends and was largely done by members of the Gerry Fire Department, who would stay in Buffalo all weekend to work on the truck. A new paint job completed the effort.
Pictured are members of the Gerry Fire Department.
Above, Gerry firefighters are pictured on the scene of a structure fire.
A rider is pictured during a recent Gerry Rodeo. The rodeo is the biggest fundraiser for the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department.
From that small beginning, the department today is housed in a modern five-bay fire hall near the four corners in Gerry and features two pumpers, a tanker, a miscellaneous truck, an all-terrain rescue vehicle with a trailer and a state-of-the-art ambulance. Its location on a highly traveled Route 60 and its central location in the county, as well as having Heritage Village Retirement Campus and Skilled Nursing Facility within its borders results in 350 fire, rescue and mutual aid calls each year.
The department's major fundraising event, the annual professional rodeo, has made this small department known nationwide. This summer, the rodeo will mark its 69th consecutive year, making it the longest consecutively running rodeo east of the Mississippi. In addition, the rodeo grounds features a newly remodeled conference center which is used year-round for local and county-wide fire training, wedding receptions, reunions, craft shows and anniversary and graduation parties, while the grounds are used for major events such as the Scandinavian Festival, Babe Ruth baseball, flag football and an annual large equipment auction. The department also conducts an annual fund drive in the spring through a mail campaign.
Gerry is justifiably proud of its family attitude, as even small children and senior adults volunteer together to raise money through the rodeo and, as a result, feel a part of the effort to provide the area with modern equipment and dedicated and well trained fire fighters and EMS personnel.
Gerry Volunteer Fire Department
Area of Coverage - Gerry Fire District 1
Date Established - 1942
Number of Members - 70 total members, 36 active members
Age to Join - 14 for junior firefighters, 17 for full members
Member Categories - 36 active, no EMS only members, 21 exterior/scene support only
Junior Firefighters - 4
Nimber of 2011 Calls - 332. Fire calls - 74. EMS Calls - 258.
EMS Level of Care - Advanced life support. Transport is available. There are 7 EMS technicians, including 1 paramedic, one CC and 5 EMTs.
The department meets the first Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. Drill dates and times are as scheduled.
The department has a 20-member auxiliary.
Fundraising -the annual Gerry Rodeo and a spring fundraising mailer.
The department meets the first Monday of each month. Anyone interested in joining should contact any member for information and an application or visit the fire hall any Tuesday evening when the weekly radio checks are held. Junior members may join at age 14, while regular members must be at least 17. There is also an active auxiliary of 20 members which welcomes new members.