In 1917 there were ten men who lived in the hamlet area on the west side of the hill in the part of Austerlitz called “Spencertown” who realized the importance of organized fire protection of property and people. Some say that this group came together after a ravaging fire which destroyed the general store. Until then, residents depended on neighbors to “come-a-running” with buckets and whatever else to put out fires when they occurred. On November 6th, 1917 this group met for the purpose of drawing up Articles of Incorporation that would develop and organize the Spencertown Fire Company, Inc. The ten men were:
John W. Hartmann, George S. Barden, George W. Demler, George Whiteman, Alfred Taylor, T. F. Niles, L. Harvey, Ray Barden, Erie Chace, Elvin Barden
When they were done, the Articles stated the following (in their own words):
1. The Company would be the Spencertown Fire Company, Inc..
2. The Fighting of fires and their extinguishment.
3. The purchase of adequate and necessary equipment, engine, hose, hook and ladder and other necessary equipment.
4. The erection and maintenance of a suitable building or buildings to house the fire apparatus.
5. Procuring information and instructions for the benefit of all members of the corporation.
6. The purchase, receiving, taking and holding of real and personal property to the amount limited by statute.
That same day, the 6th of November, 1917, the above “Directors” signed the Articles before Notary Public David W. Lasher and on November 8th, the Austerlitz Town Board gave its consent for the incorporation of the Spencertown Fire Company, Inc..
On December 17, 1917, New York State Supreme Court Justice Aaron V. S. Cochrane approved the filing of the Articles of Incorporation with the Clerk of Columbia County and the Secretary of State in Albany.
The Spencertown Fire Company Inc. and its members of approximately thirty five, began fighting fires with their first piece of firefighting equipment, a chemically activated water pump hand drawn wagon. When the alarm went off during the day, the older boys who were attending school at the Spencertown Academy were dismissed so they could run to the nearby stone fire house and pull the wagon to the scene of the fire.
The chemical pump wagon was replaced in August of 1931 with a Seagraves 500 gallon pumper, which at the time was considered one of the finest pieces of firefighting equipment of rural fire companies in the region.
At the May 29th, 1932 regular meeting of the newly formed Austerlitz Board of Fire Commissioners of Fire District # 1 the Board formally approved and recognized by resolution, the Spencertown Fire Company, Inc. as a duly constituted and regularly organized volunteer fire company. John Hartman was then the Fire Chief.
Today, the Spencertown Fire Company, Inc. is still a vibrant part of public safety in the Town of Austerlitz. The 1931 Seagraves was replaced in 1950 and sold, but many years later, located and restored. Along with the original chemical wagon, they are used for parades and other events. The original stone fire house still exists and is now the Austerlitz Town Hall and Justice Court.
In June of 2017, the Spencertown Fire Company celebrated 100 years of serving the Spencertown and surrounding communities! Please see photos below.