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Early History of the Oneida Fire Department
The first organized volunteer fire company of record in the Village of Oneida was the Aegis Hose Company No. 1, which was formed in 1849 and served the village for 24 years. Their first piece of fire equipment was a hand-pumper given to them by the Syracuse and Utica Railroad. During 1866 the construction of the Fire Station on Vanderbilt was authorized and the building was ready for the Fire Company in 1867. Aegis Hose Company No. 1 changed its name to Oneida Hose Company No. 1 and was joined in the new building by Protection Engine Company No. 2.
In 1869 there was a split in the two companies and as a result, five new companies were formed. The Fire Station on Vanderbilt Avenue was remodeled in 1870 to accommodate the new hand pulled hook & ladder truck purchased from the City of Rochester for $600.
In 1876, the Jones Hose Company No. 1 was disbanded and the German Hose Company No. 1 was formed. During World War I the name was changed to Citizen’s Hose Company No. 1 and this company is still in existence with a roster of 50 members.
Up until 1883, the various fire companies had to depend on the Erie Canal Feeder and a series of private and village owned cisterns for their water supply to fight fires. After a series of serious fires, petitions were drawn and presented which resulted in the construction of the Warner Water Works, which formed the foundation of today present municipal water system.
In 1888, the various fire companies were incorporated with S.M. Hill as Chief of the Fire Department and consisted of the following companies: German Hose Co. No. 1, Oneida Steam Co. No. 1, Oneida Hose Company No. 2, Maxwell Hook & Ladder Co. No. 3, Northrup Hose Company No. 4. Two members from each company were elected to serve as the Fire Board. Each year the Fire Board elected the Chief of the Department for the following year.
During December of 1895 the Fire Board met but could not come to a decision on who was to be the Chief of the Department for 1896. After several meetings with the same results, the Village Officials took up the issue and ordered Laurel Meader, who had been Chief of the Volunteer Department for three years, to proceed with the organization of a Paid Fire Department. The various companies were then dispensed with, some voluntarily disbanding and others under orders from the Village Board. The German Hose Co. No. 1 stationed on the north side was the only company to survive this order.
The Paid Fire Department was formed officially in 1896 with Laurel Meader as Chief, one Assistant Chief, one Fireman, and 35 Call Fireman from the ranks of the disbanded companies and the German Hose Company. Equipment of the volunteer companies was taken over by the Village. That year the department responded to 19 fires. Chiefs of the Oneida Fire Department
Date of Term as Fire Chief
Laurel Meader 1896 -1904
Frank H. Ernewein 1904 – 1933
Fred Koppell 1933 – 1942
Frank C. Cheeseman 1942 – 1955
Edward H. McCulley 1955-1959
John F. Myers– 1959 – 1981
Robert J. Burgdoff 1981 – 1985
Erwin Smith 1985 – 1998
Thomas Laurin 1998 – 2004
Donald Hudson 2004 – 2011
Gregg Myers 2011- 2013
Kevin Salerno 2013- Present