HFD History

HFD History

Prepared with assistance of Ray Crombe

A fire in early 1958, which destroyed a house on County Road 46 (County House Road), ignited interest in the Town of Hopewell in forming a volunteer fire department.

Word Spread Fast

Early in 1958, George VanTroost's house caught on fire. It is where Dick Stoddard’s house is now on County Road 46. The Canandaigua Fire Department was called and several Hopewell residents started calling neighbors …phones with 10 to 15 people on a party line allowed the word to spread fast. The neighbors started emptying out the house while the Canandaigua pumper was on the way. This was a long run, in unfamiliar area, for Canandaigua’s Fire Truck.

The pumper arrived and house stripping continued. They had trouble getting water out of the truck. The stripping now included plumbing fixtures and the house was nearly emptied.

Needless to say the fire was gaining all the while and even after they started pumping water on the fire availability of water was limited.

The house burnt to the ground.


Grange Sentiment


Following the fire, residents at a Hopewell Grange meeting "felt it was a shame Hopewell did not have a fire department, possibly the house could have been saved." Support grew at subsequent Grange meetings for the establishment of a volunteer fire company. The people interested in taking part in forming a fire department met at the Grange on July 29, 1958.

The first administrative officers named included: Jake VanTroost, president; Ed Wood, vice president; Charles Boughton, secretary and, Roland Pool, treasurer.
First Meeting

The Hopewell Fire Department's first official meeting, following Incorporation, took place March 3, 1959 at the Grange Hall. At the time there were 38 members and meetings were held at the hall.

The first equipment purchased was “200 feet of 1 1/2 inch hose, 100 feet of 2 1/2 inch hose, three raincoats for drivers and five fire coats, five helmets and five pair of galoshes”.

The first fire chief elected was Jack Dhondt, who served from 1959 to 1968. The first land acquired by the fire company was donated by Everett Bradshaw in June of 1959.

Inadequate Equipment

Our department had no contract with the town and did not feel they had adequate equipment to protect the district. However, they did respond to three fire calls in 1959 and nine calls in 1960.

Other memorable dates and events:

  • March 1959 – A used 500 GPM pumper was purchased from the Scipio Center Fire Department and housed in the garage owned by Bert Buchan.

  • January 1962 – A contract was signed for $1,000 with the town for fire protection.

  • March 1962 – A rebuilt radio for the pumper was purchased for $258.65 and installed... A new phone system required fire calls to go to the fire control center at the sheriff's office.

  • March 1962 - The new district ran from the intersection of Freshour Road and Route 488, east to County Road 47 and south to County Road 4. Then it ran east to the town line (also includes Malone Road), south along the town line to the southern town line then west to Freshour Road and north back to Route 488.

  • April 1962 - Len Stoddard was made captain of the waterball team and Roland Pool captain of the drill team.

  • October 1962 - Firemen were trying to get paint on the outside of the firehouse and finally got the remainder of the concrete floor in.

  • March 1963 - Approval was given to purchase an altering system (transmitter and 20 receivers) for the firemen's homes.

  • August 1964 - Hopewell's first field day was held. It rained at the carnival and during the parade at which 22 companies marched.

  • February 1965 - All vehicles were finally equipped with hydrant wrenches, five years after the company was chart­ered, which showed what the men were up against with finances.

  • June 1965 - A local phone system was discontinued when Chief Dhondt announced a selective call set up with all fire calls going to the sheriff's office. A town house numbering system was completed.

  • November 1965 - A $1,500 loan was received from Canandaigua National Bank to buy a 1949 Dodge tanker from Perkinsville Fire Department.

  • February 1967 - Land was purchased from Everett Bradshaw south of the firehouse for $1... The first banquet was held at Clifton Springs Country Club.

  • March 1968 - The department purchased a 20-gallon hot water heater, eight years after the firehouse was built.

  • June 1968 - Firemen put in 20 acres of beans at Jack Dhondt's farm and raised $551.76 the first year.
  • September 1968 - The department received a former hearse from Johnson's Funeral Home for $1, which was used as a squad car.

  • February 1969 - A John Bean pumper installed on a Chevrolet chassis was ordered.

  • July 1969 - Permission was granted to the wives of 17 firemen to form a Ladies Auxiliary.

  • August 1969 - A new pumper costing $24,900 was put into service. This was the first time a band-new motorized fire apparatus was purchased by the department.

  • December 1972 - The department recommended that the town board contract with the Mutual Hook and Ladder Company of Canandaigua for ambulance services which was done.

  • February 1974 - The department purchased 5 1/2 acres of land across from the firehouse for $6,000.

  • March 1974 - A portable pond (1,500 gallons) was put into service.

  • February 1975 - A 1966 Chevy emergency van, offered by Wayland Fire Department, was purchased for $2,337. It was voted to put up a 40-by-50 foot concrete block addition to the firehouse.

  • October 1975 - The depart­ment purchased a 1949 Ford pumper from Seneca Castle Fire Department for $1,500

  • March 1977 – The Department’s first base station was installed at the firehouse, which was purchased from Manchester Fire for a can of coffee and a case of beer

  • October 1977- Pocket pagers were ordered to allow men away from their home monitors to get calls and respond.

  • March 1978 - A motion was passed that the department form a rescue squad.

  • January 1979 - The rescue squad officially went into service, which included 12 people who completed the CPR and advanced first aid course.

  • March 1979 - A three-­quarter ton four-wheel drive Army surplus truck was acquired and converted into a brush fire truck.

  • November 1979 - A new 1,500 gallon tanker replaced the 1949 Dodge tanker.

  • March 1980 - The by-laws were revised to allow young men 16 (formerly 18) years of age to become firemen.