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Welcome to the home page of the
Town of Watertown Fire Department.
We are located in Jefferson County in New York State.


2014 in Review

TWFD Responded to 577 Calls in 2014

And 270 Calls in 2015
(As of May 27, 2015)


46-3-1 TWFD Earliest Engine Is Coming Back Home!

Old Engine 77 returns to Town of Watertown Fire Department


WATERTOWN — George L. Clement remembers the days, decades ago, when the Town of Watertown Fire Department had to operate old Engine 77 out of his brother’s Burrville barn.

Now 71 and still a member of the Watertown volunteer fire department, Mr. Clement also can vaguely recall how retired Fire Chief Richard Smith gave him his pump test on that same 1952 Ford truck, the first engine the department ever owned.

"It was his pet fire engine," Mr. Clement said.

It’s a bit of a mystery what happened to the beloved pumper, in service for about 20 years, after it was taken off the road during the early 1970s.

Until now.

The pumper — its bright red color now faded and predominantly rusted — is back home where it belongs. A Sandy Creek Christmas tree farmer recently donated the engine back to the fire department.

Three weeks ago, the pumper, with an eight-cylinder, gas-driven Lincoln engine, was towed from Sandy Creek back to the department’s Fire Station 1 on County Route 67, where it will be restored over the next several years.

Calling it "a labor of love," Fire Chief Ralph A. Green Jr. said the 50-plus-member fire department looks forward to the project. It will help spur camaraderie in the department while members take it apart, put it back together and make it look like new again.
"We’re going to bring this old girl home," Chief Green said.

The department has saved up $10,000 for the restoration and plans to hold a variety of fundraising events. But it’s not clear how much money it will take to restore.

For the past dozen years or so, the pumper sat on Brian J. Kehoe’s family farm in Sandy Creek, where it was used to irrigate his strawberries for a few years until the truck went out to pasture after the farm was turned into the Christmas tree-growing business. Mr. Kehoe purchased it from Grey Gardens in Pulaski, whose owner, George, also watered his strawberries with the pumper.

"It’s always ran like a top," Mr. Kehoe said.

Even though the blush is long gone from this aging rose, the engine and siren both work. Amazingly, some of the original hose fittings came with the truck, and the fire engine’s log books were found in the glove box, Mr. Green said. The brakes, however, had to be replaced.

Old Engine 77 — later changed to Engine 46-31 during the days when the Jefferson County Civil Defense Department was still in existence — fought some major blazes over the years. There was a fire on a farm on Dry Hill and a barn that went up in flames across from the Burrville Cider Mill about 40 years ago, said Mr. Clement, who’s glad to see Chief Smith’s pet truck back.

"It makes me feel old," he said, adding it reminds him of the old days when he was still an active firefighter. "It was a long time ago."

For a long time, Chief Green and his department had no idea where the pumper was. By chance, Adams volunteer firefighter Ty K. Edmonds drove by the Christmas tree farm on a back road and saw it from a distance. He decided to stop and take a picture of it with his phone.

About two months ago, Mr. Edmonds posted the photo on the Facebook page Old and New Fire Engines, where it was seen by a town of Watertown firefighter. Chief Green called him to find out where he found it. Last month, Chief Green and three others helped haul it back to Watertown.

"I’m just happy to see it there again," he said.

It was actually one of three of the same 1952 Ford pumpers put together in Adams about 63 years ago, Chief Green said. One ended up in Lorraine, the other stayed in Adams and the last was sent to the town of Watertown. Since then, one has seemingly fallen off the face of the earth, while the second rusted-out pumper sits in a pit in Kings Quarry.

Mr. Kehoe plans to follow the project’s progress as it proceeds. He was pleased to make some firefighters happy.

"It was not doing any good in my yard," he said.

Once finished, the engine, which has logged about 14,900 miles, will be showcased in parades and during other events. The truck will remain in the department’s possession for as long it gets used as an ambassador for the local fire service. If it does not, it will revert to Mr. Kehoe or his descendants.

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