In June of 1922, a Group of Concerned Residents

of Elsmere started the necessary legal procedures to form a Volunteer Fire Company.  This included informational meetings for the residents and the signing of petitions approving the formation of such an organization.  The petitions were then presented to the Town Board and a special election was requested to authorize the formation of a Fire Company, the raising of funds for the initial costs and to outline the territory to be protected.  The special election was held on November 18, 1922.  The proposition passed.

The First Official Meeting of the Fire Company

was held on December 2, 1922 at which time officers were elected, a constitution was approved, and meeting dates and training times were established.  The last Friday of each month was selected for monthly business meetings and Sunday afternoons were picked for training sessions.  Sundays were selected for training because at the time everyone worked a six-days week, and evenings were needed to accomplish household chores.  Much later in our history, when the five day work week arrived and people wanted weekends free, the meeting night was changed to the last Thursday of each month and weekly drills were scheduled for each Tuesday evening.  In May of 1923, the Company was incorporated and a Board of Directors was elected.  The first fire engine was a Model “T” Ford chemical truck purchased second hand from the Bolton Landing Volunteer Fire Department in Lake George NY and it continued in active service until 1929 when it was replaced with a “Buffalo” pumper.  The model “T”, affectionately known as the “Dinky”, is still owned by the Fire Company and is used in parades and other special functions.

In 1928, a Fire District Was Formed

in accordance with the State and Town laws and a Board of Fire Commissioners was elected consisting of three Commissioners and Secretary/Treasurer.  In 1933, the number of commissioners was increased to five members with one elected annually to serve for a term of five years.  Also in 1933, the first Chief of the Company was elected.  Until 1933, the Captain was the highest ranking line officer as well as the chief executive officer of the Company.  In 1962, the constitution was changed establishing the offices of President and Vice President to handle the administration of the Fire Company business and the Captain then became strictly a line officer.

The original two story fire station was erected in 1929 and a coded siren alarm system installed to replace the hand operated alarm system which consisted of three locomotive tires erected in three different locations in the community.  To sound this alarm, a sledge hammer placed by each tire or ring was used to pound on the metal ring and the sound was that of a large bell.  In contrast, today we use a triple air horn mounted atop the fire house roof as an audible alarm and each firefighter has a monitor radio paging device to alert him/her for an alarm of fire or emergency.

Elsmere Firefighters Battle Brush Fires in 1930

The Adams Memorial Building

Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives in war defending Our Country. Each year the members of the Elsmere Fire Company conduct a ceremony at the Holy Spirit Lutheran Cemetery on Feura Bush Road and place a wreath on the grave of one of our members who lost his life in World War II, William C. (Bill) Adams. Bill was a dedicated and enthusiastic member of our fire company and was destined to become a leader in the fire service. Bill was born on February 16, 1916 and was killed in Germany on December 27, 1944.

On November 23, 1947 the Elsmere Fire Station was named the Adams Memorial Building in his honor. The plaque which was placed on the outside of the building at that time has since been mounted on the inside of the building on the wall in the Engine Room.

Elsmere Fire Hall Named After Hero

The Elsmere Fire Hall was named Adams Memorial Building yesterday at a rededication ceremony conducted by members of the Elsmere Fire Company. The building was named in honor of Sgt. William C. Adams, killed in Germany Dec 27, 1944. He joined the fire company in 1933 and was a first lieutenant in the company when he entered the Army. Sergeant Adams served with the 47th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Infantry and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Silver Star before he was killed in action. He was the only member of the fire company killed during the war.

Ken McNary

Post World War II Dodge

This Dodge was placed in service shortly after the conclusion of World War II. The US Government was disposing of surplus equipment and provided this and other firefighting equipment to emergency organizations that were certified fire training organizations. Elsmere was properly certified and received this vehicle and many other useful items of firefighting equipment from the government during this era.


1952 Ward LaFrance

Elsmere's 1952 Ward LaFrance at Elsmere Avenue and Poplar Drive. The store at the top of the hill was called Berichino's. Photo provided by Steve Wright.

In 1963, Our Building Was Remodeled

and a three bay garage was added to house three pumpers.  The engine bays were further extended in 1969 to house the aerial platform.  As with most organizations, the Company and District continued to grow.  Consequently, we outgrew our building, necessitating another addition and complete redecoration in 1978.  A new office for the Chief, a workroom, a storage room, a new kitchen, an expanded meeting/banquet room and an area for a museum was added, giving us much needed operating space.

Elsmere Fire Co. Officers Installed in 1966

1969 Young Crusader Cab 1250 GPM Pumper

Engine 32 is no longer In Service.

1969 Young Crusader Cab 85’ Snorkel

Truck 30 is no longer In Service.

1971 Young 1250 GPM Pumper

Engine 33 is no longer In Service.

In 1982, the Elsmere Fire Company

hosted the Albany County Volunteer Firefighter’s Association convention in conjunction with the celebration of the Company’s 60th Anniversary.  To celebrate it’s 70th Anniversary, we hosted the 65th Annual Hudson-Mohawk Volunteer Firefighter’s Association convention.  Both conventions were a huge success.

Also in the 1980s as is the case today, the volunteer firefighter service saw a large decline in active membership.  To combat this threatening trend, Elsmere Fire Company established a Recruitment and Retention Committee to address this issue.  The “R&R” Committee (many of the original members continue to serve on it today) reversed this trend at Elsmere.  In fact, many of the practices incorporated locally to ensure adequate membership at our organization have been used at the Albany County level where an official task force was established several years ago to address this problem.

1990 Saw Another Expansion

of our facilities.  A large 3-bay garage was constructed at the rear of the property affording an attic storage area, work area, garage space for our bus, utility trailer and drill team truck.  The 1990’s was also the decade in which we upgraded our apparatus.  We placed into service in 1991, a new Pierce Lance pumper (formerly Engine 32) which is no longer in service. In 1993 a new 100 foot Pierce Lance aerial platform (Truck 30) was placed in service. In 1997 another new Pierce Lance pumper (now Engine 31) was put in service and in 1999 a Pierce Saber utility/squad truck (Squad 33) was added.  Additionally, in 2001 the Company took possession of a new International 27 passenger bus which is used by the fire company for firematic activities and special events.  It is part of the New York State Urban Search and Rescue Team and served proudly as a transport vehicle at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001.

1991 Pierce Lance 1750 GPM Pumper

Engine 32 Was Taken Out of Service on May 10, 2012.

1993 Pierce Lance 100’ Aerial Platform

Truck 30 has a 1500gpm pump. In Service June 28, 1993.

Out of Service on February 6, 2015.

Sold to Village of Hudson Falls NY on Februray 7, 2015.

The Following Press Release Announced the Elsmere Fire Company A, Inc.‘s 75th Anniversary….

Date: Tue, 25 Feb 1997


The Elsmere Fire Company, located in the Town of Bethlehem, Albany County, this year will celebrate their 75th anniversary. In June of 1922 a local committee circulated a petition asking for a proposition to appropriate funds for the of purchase of fire fighting equipment. The proposition was finally presented to the taxpayers for approval at a special election held on November 18, 1922. The first fire company meeting was held on December 4, 1922 at which the Fire Company was duly organized and a full slate of officers were elected. There were 47 charter members.

In 1928, a fire district was established in accordance with town and county procedures. A Board of Fire Commissioners was elected. Peter Klein was elected as the first Chairman and he was also named the first Chief of the Department.

The original two story fire station on Poplar Drive was erected in 1929, a coded fire alarm system installed and a 1917 750 GPM fully equipped American LaFrance pumper was purchased. This building was remodeled and extended to house three pumpers in 1963 and further enlarged to house the “Snorkel” in 1969. The original pumper was purchased for $700.00, and is still owned by the Fire Company.

The Ladies Auxiliary of the Fire Company was organized on May 12, 1938 and has been a valuable supporting organization to the Fire Company.

The Fire Company holds regular meetings on the last Thursday of each month, an annual meeting for the election of officers in December, as prescribed by law and the anniversary meeting held on the first Friday in December.

The Fire Company operates under a Fire District, which has a Board of Fire Commissioners, elected by the voters of the Fire District. The Board of Fire Commissioners is responsible for the purchase and maintenance of the fire apparatus and the fire station. They also exercise supervision of the Fire Company through the Fire Chief and his Assistant Chiefs.

The present apparatus fleet consists of a 2012 Pierce Impel 1750 GPM pumper, a 1997 Pierce Lance 1750 GPM pumper, a 1993 Pierce Lance 100’ Tower Ladder with a 1500 GPM pump, and a 1999 Pierce Saber Utility Squad. Present membership includes 80 active fire fighters, including 11 fire police and 9 fire officers.

1997 Pierce Lance 1750GPM Pumper

Engine 31 In Service August 18, 1997.

1999 Pierce Saber Utility Squad

Squad 33 In Service March 29, 1999. Rescue - Fire - Haz Mat.

1999 Pierce Sabre Heavy Duty Squad with an 8-Man cab carried cargo of multi-purpose suppression and rescue appliances along with a full compliment of hazardous materials response equipment. 

Out of Service on December 21, 2017. Sold to Pine Lake Fire Department in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

The Early 2000s Saw Another Substantial Building Renovation

due to the extensive growth and space requirements, as well as future expectations for our organization.  In 2001-2002, our building went through a complete renovation adding a second floor above the engine bays which now houses a meeting/class room, Company and District offices, new kitchen and a new members room.  Additionally, an area was built (now storage) as a “bunk room” should the District be required to bunk emergency response crews sometime in the future.  The first floor moved the Chief and Line Officers into more adequate offices, a conference/meeting room was added, a new turnout gear room and a larger workroom was built.  Elsmere Fire Company can now house gear for 80 firefighters.

Today, the Elsmere Fire Company

has the required and necessary facilities, equipment, training and apparatus to handle the most complicated emergencies.  Each firefighter has his/her own complete set of protective clothing and many are specially trained in various specialties ranging from EMS/Paramedic to Hazardous Material mitigation/decontamination to Firefighter Rescue (FAST) to specialty Search & Rescue.  We take much pride in our equipment, building and capabilities as trained professional firefighters/emergency personnel.  The Elsmere Fire Company “A”, Inc. continues to earn the title “PRIDE OF BETHLEHEM” with an impressive active roster of eighty active members!

Our History Would Not Be Complete

without mention of our most seasoned firefighter, Kenneth E. McNary.  Mr. McNary joined Elsmere Fire Company in 1930 and served as an active firefighter until 2003.  The fire company hosted a gala reception in honor of Mr. McNary, in January of 1990.  January 30, 1990 marked the 60th anniversary of Mr. McNary’s active service in the company.  The Supervisor of the Town of Bethlehem declared January 30, 1990 to be “KENNETH E. McNARY DAY” in the Town of Bethlehem.  The Chamber of Commerce named him “Citizen of the Year” in February 1990.  Furthermore, the Company recognized Mr. McNary’s service and dedication to our organization by creating the “Kenneth E. McNary” award which is presented annually to a qualifying firefighter nominated and selected by our Recruitment and Retention Committee.  We paid great tribute to Mr. McNary in 2000 to celebrate his 70th year of active service to us.  Mr. McNary was named Firefighter of the Year by the Elsmere Fire Company, Albany County Firefighter of the Year and received numerous proclamations and accolades for his 70 years of service.  Although Ken “retired” from active service, he continued to remain active around the firehouse. Sadly, Ken passed away on July 9, 2006.

2012 Pierce Impel Chassis

Delivered August 14, 2012. Engine 31 has a top mount pump panel, eight man cab, 750 gallon booster tank and 1,750 gallon per minute Waterous pump.

2015 100’ Pierce Aerial on a Velocity Chassis

This 2015 Pierce Velocity 100' Aerial Platform has an 8-Man Cab, 145 Ft. of Ground Ladders, a 300 Gal. Water Tank and a 2,000 GPM Waterous Pump. It was delivered on February 7, 2015 and was placed in service on February 22, 2015. 

2017 Elsmere Fire District Plans for Construction of South Station

In 2017, the Elsmere Fire District initiated plans for construction of the 4,608 sf South Station on Feura Bush Road at Wemple Road to provide service to residents of the Glenmont area on a par with the service it provides to the residents of the Fire District residing north of the Delmar Bypass.

On December 6, 2017 the Town of Bethlehem Zoning Board of Appeals reviewed an application from the Elsmere Fire District for the construction of a new fire station located at 578 Feura Bush Road pursuant to Zoning Law Section 128-90 (B). The Zoning Board of Appeals was to apply the "Balance of Interest Test" when determining the applicability of the zoning law to quasi-public projects and, if said provision is applicable to this project, make a determination as to whether the project needed to undergo site plan review.

On December 12, 2017 voters in the Elsmere Fire District approved Proposition 1 which authorized the District to construct the proposed South Station at an estimated cost of $1,400,000.00 and to finance $1,300,000.00 of the estimated cost. The vote tally was 272 to 180.

On December 20, 2017, the ZBA conducted a Public Hearing on the proposed South Station and determined that the project would require Site Plan Review by the Town of Bethlehem Planning Board and passed a resolution to that effect on January 3, 2018.

This project first appeared on the Town of Bethlehem Planning Board agenda as an Information/discussion item on their February 20, 2018 agenda. After several meetings and public discussions with the Planning Board, site plan approval was granted by the Planning Board on July 3, 2018.

The Board of Fire Commissioners held a special meeting on June 22, 2018 for the purpose of opening and reading sealed bids for five prime construction contracts (General Construction, Electrical, HVAC, Plumbing, and Pre-Fabricated Building) for the construction of the South Station. At a subsequent meeting four of the five contracts were awarded and the Board voted to re-advertise for bids for the General Construction contract. Bids for this contract are due to be opened on August 14, 2018.