Volunteers from the days of the earliest settlements in Rockland have always worked to protect and preserve life and property. Today in our suburban communities, volunteers are preserving firemanic memorabilia and historic artifacts. In the Rockland County Volunteer Fire Services Museum, on the grounds of the Rockland County Fire Training Center, you'll see some of these articles.
Immediately after the training facility was erected and opened, under William Herman, the first County Fire Coordinator, a Museum Committee was formed by Philip F. DeLorenzo, then President of the Rockland County Volunteer Firemen's Association. In November 1973, with the urging and support of many firemen, people were asked to donate badges, yearbooks, old pictures, uniforms, belts, helmets, etc., for future inclusion in this museum.
Charles M. Fales was Chairman of the Museum Committee, with other members being Thomas P. Bierds, Stanley G. Brooker, Stuart L. Gates, and Thomas A. Boyan. They were charged with establishing guidelines and "the place", knowing that the creation of a museum would take time and "stages". The aim was to "Preserve OUR Local History." The County Fire Chief's Association was filling scrapbooks with fire-related articles from the area newspapers.
Originally, cases were affixed to the walls of the hallways to display badges, patches, plates and photos. Leaders, like Birley Buchanan and James Blake, had cabinets built in the administration building lobby to house displays and exhibit firemanic items on loan. Plaques were attached to the walls of the main building, and the County Ladies Auxiliary had constructed a lighted display case in memory of Ethel Dahl and Robert Pitt. Thus, it was begun.
Cooperatively, all the associations selected representatives; and a Museum Board of Trustees was formed on February 19, 1985. A plaque with their names is displayed in the lobby. The trustees received a formal charter from the NYS Education Dept. on April 27, 1990, after meeting mandated guidelines.
The Trustees accepted, as their logo, the outline shape of the County of Rockland. In the center is the first fire equipment from Rockland's oldest volunteer fire company, now in South Nyack. In 1834 Orangetown Fire Co. #1 was organized.
The museum is part of "the north-wing addition," constructed in 1991 and 1992 as part of the needed expansion to include more space for training and safety education. Included in the addition is an auditorium necessary for seminars and firemanic forums. On the lower floor, space has been included for classrooms, and display of antiques and apparatus. This section was dedicated on Sunday, October 18, 1992.
To collect and accurately preserve valuable memorabilia and equipment relating to the local volunteer firefighter, ladies auxiliaries and other firemanic organizations of Rockland County.
We strive to provide reliable first hand knowledge in an interesting manner and by exhibits for individuals visiting or on educational tours.
To be the quality source of the many aspects of the volunteer fire services and it's activities over the years, trying to enhance pride while sharing historic facts.
Stuart Gates November 25, 1996
To schedule a tour of the Fire Museum please contact Mike Leitner at 634-1249.