Department History

The idea of the Clifton Park Fire Department was born in the eyes of a few local citizens. These citizens were actively interested in providing fire protection for their town. They started to hold meetings at their local school #21 and the Clifton Park Hotel. Fund raising, which has always been a big element of acquiring money for the Fire Department, began then. There was everything from plays and dances to wrestling matches and clam-steams. Local farmers would donate their goods for these events. Through these efforts, the Clifton Park Fire Department started its foundation.

On October 17, 1935, the first piece of apparatus was bought. It was purchased from the Gilbert Hose Company in Green Island for $175. This was an REO Speedwagon, a chemical truck. It was housed in the cellar garage of Carl Osborne’s home, at Rte 9. and Old Rte 146., which also served as the first firehouse. Alarms were received by word of mouth, telephone or walk-ins. Vern Lake was the first Chief and served for seven years, and Arthur “Pip” Gilbert served as the first President. In 1937, the Department acquired the old Clifton Park school building from the Clifton Park Young Men’s Social Club for $1.00. The bell on the schoolhouse became the alarm. However, due to extensive work being done, the truck was still housed at the Osborne residence until 1939. The schoolhouse remained the firehouse until 1951. Also in 1937, on November 9th, the Firehouse was incorporated under the laws of New York State. On April 9, 1940, the department began serving the newly formed fire district named Clifton Park-Halfmoon Fire District #1. The department was then officially known as the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Fire Company, which was served by a board of 5 fire commissioners. Joel Kinns was the chairman, and Frederick Kenneston, George Hatlee, Arthur Gilbert and William Lasher were the remaining members.

On June 12, 1941, the district purchased a 1941 Chevrolet pumper with a 500 gallon pump. Ellis Hatlee was serving as Chief when the truck was delivered, and the REO was then taken out of service. Unfortunately, this truck was wrecked in route to a grass fire at Floyd Hatlee’s residence on Easter Sunday. The accident occurred at Rte 146 and Old Rte 146. The truck was hit broadside and totaled.

In the early 50’s the Auxiliary was formed. In 1954, the next piece of apparatus was purchased. This was a used 1949 Dodge Chassis, which the Auxiliary raised money for. It was bought from Pryn Lumber in Mechanicville for $500. The Auxiliary then bought a tank for $1000 and donated it to the company. The department’s first tanker served until 1966, when it was sold to Ft. Ann. After the Chevrolet was wrecked, the company bought a used GMC Pumper from Ellis Fire Equipment for $250. It also served until 1966.

The building of the first firehouse began in 1954, with section #1 as 3 bays, a kitchen and a men’s room. This was built by John and Frank Haller. From 1961-1962, Fortune Construction built section #2 as the meeting hall and the Fireman’s Hall; the hall was 40’ by 60’. In 1972, section #3 was built, which had 3 truck bays, a new kitchen, a radio room, and a ladies room. The entire firehouse was built on the site of the former one.

In 1966, two red Ford trucks were purchased. These were ETA 19-2 and ETA 19-3. ETA 19-2 was used as an Engine Tanker and ETA 19-3 was used as a Tanker. An International Box Truck was bought and used as a rescue, serving as R 19-5. R 19-5 carried a full set of JAWS, air bags, an assortment of hand tools, spare air bottles and some EMS equipment. In 1971, a 1938 Buffalo was bought and used as a brush truck until 1978. This truck was E 19-7 and is the current Parade Truck. In 1975, an LTI Ladder Truck was purchased and given the designation EL 19-6. The truck had a 65’ ladder, a 1250 gallon pump and carried 250 gallons of water. In 1978, a mini-pumper was bought, then taken out of service in 1989. This truck was used as a mini-rescue pumper called R 19-4. It carried a full set of JAWS, and was able to make any kind of initial attack needed.

In October 1977, the land behind the firehouse was donated by Mr. and Mrs. James Messina. In 1978, the pavilion was built by Irv Hatlee, and subsequently named in honor of him.

In 1980, a Sanford Engine Tanker was bought and was designated ETA 19-1. It carried 1000 gallons of water and had a 1250 gallon pump. It also carried a full set of JAWS that came of R 19-4 when it was taken out of service. On December 12, 1986 a new Pierce Arrow was purchased and designated as ETA 19-2. It carried 1500 gallons of water and could pump 1250 gallons per minute. On December 12, 1988 another Pierce Arrow was bought and replaced the last of the 1966 twin trucks. This truck received the designation ETA 19-3. It carried 1500 gallons of water and could pump 1500 gallons per minute. In 1989, a truck committee was formed and specs were drawn up for Heavy Rescue R 19-4. This was delivered in February 1991.

From 1987 to 1989 the department discussed and drew up plans for a new firehouse. In the Spring of 1990 the new firehouse was started and still proudly serves the residents of Clifton Park/Halfmoon. In order to complete this mission, the commissioners had to by the land and the house next to the old firehouse. The house was donated to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department and moved by the town of Halfmoon in the Spring of 1988.

Our history is ever changing and developing. We have much work to do to search out the milestones that make up the history of the Clifton Park/Halfmoon Fire Department. Please fell free to contact us with any pictures or information that we can use to expand on our history.