The Cragsmoor Improvement Association, seeing a need for fire protection, conceived the idea of a fire company for the community. In 1949 a door-to-door fund drive was started. The fund drive raised enough money that a used fire truck could be purchased. It was a 1929 American LaFrance Chemical Truck, from Oswego, New York. On September 30, 1950. Harold Garritt, Bruce Garritt, Ernie Marl, Lou Miller, and Ralph Stedner went to Owego to pick up the truck. It was so cold they had to stop at a hardware store on the way back and buy a storm window to use as a windshield. The truck was stored in Harold Garritt’s garage until a firehouse could be built.
The first official meeting of the Fire Company was held in the Cragsmoor School on December 21, 1950. The Cragsmoor School was purchased for $1 as a possible fire house site, Ultimately, the site was not considered feasible. Instead, a 100′ x 100′ lot donated by Dan Little was accepted as the site of the new fire house, and a wood-frame garage was constructed by members. Additions were added later to this original structure.
“The Certificate of Incorporation of CRAGSMOOR VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY, Inc.” was filed with the Department of State on August 2, 1951. The Corporation was formed under the Membership Corporation Law of the State of New York with the purpose of: “the protection of persons and property from injury, loss, damage or destruction by fire;” in the territory described as follows: “Cragsmoor Common School District Number 7, Town of Wawarsing, County of Ulster, State of New York,…” The Certificate of Incorporation was signed by Robert Van Kleeck, Walter H. Sehrig, Ralph W. Stedner, Max Zielinski, Charles H. Peters, Dan Little, Vincent A. Roy, John Stedner Jr., F. Warner, Earl Van Kleeck, Ernest Marl, John Kindberg, and Lewis B. Miller. Cragsmoor’s first chief was Robert Van Kleeck. On August 19, 2008 the Internal Revenue Service determined that the Fire Company was a tax exempt public charity under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
The fire company’s needs grew over the years. On August 9, 1975 a new two-story, three-bay fire house, built mostly through the labor of members and volunteers, was dedicated. In 1995 a fourth truck bay, members room, and office were added. It too was constructed by an all- volunteer labor force. During the summer months of 2007, a second-story deck was added to the west side of the fire house, again through the efforts of an all-volunteer labor force.
In 1982 a new Ward Limited Tanker-Pumper was purchased, adding to the 1960 Ford Tanker-Pumper and 1945 Dodge Power Wagon brush truck. Also in 1982 the Cragsmoor Fire District was formed. It raises funds through taxation and owns all emergency equipment. The Fire Company continues to own the land and buildings.
In June, 2004 a successful Junior Firefighter program was started. Youth from the area (14-16 years old) can be part of this program and assist with certain non-emergency duties, all while earning volunteer credit hours and learning what it takes to be part of a caring community.
Today the Fire Company responds to any emergency on the mountain and helps neighboring fire companies through a mutual aid agreement. Members now respond to emergencies with 24-10, the initial fire attack pumper; 24-20, a 2500-gallon tanker-pumper; 24-30, a combination brush and medical emergency truck; 24-40, a light rescue-pumper; as well as two off-road vehicles, 24-50 and 24-60.
In addition to serving the emergency needs of the community, the fire house serves as a community social center as well as an emergency shelter. Through the years there have been art shows, auctions, drivers educations classes, wedding receptions, penny socials, birthday parties, CPR classes, and many other public and private social and educational events.
Also, the “first truck” picture shows Lou Miller driving. The Fire company symbol (the Indian in front of Sams Point) was drawn by Cindy Rivera.: