BALLSTON – The Burnt Hills Fire Company will break ground on its new Station 2 firehouse across the street from the Ballston Spa town offices, at 330 Charlton Road, at 4:30 p.m. May 12. The $3.2 million bond project was approved by town-wide referendum vote six months ago. And for the firefighters – it’s a project long overdue.
“The one we’re replacing is a small, two-bay fire station,” said Fire Commissioner and Building Committee Member Lee Ramsey. “It is actually so small that when we get a fire call they have to pull the truck out to get their gear out.” Ramsey called the tight quarters and need to pull out trucks to access gear dangerous. “It’s a very, very small station,” he said. “We just outgrew it.”
The Burnt Hills Fire Department, known as the Neptune Volunteer Fire Company No. 1, was established in October of 1918 with a membership of 26 men. In May of 1920, a two-tank truck was purchased and kept in a local barn. Shortly after, an old school bell was obtained and rung for fire alarms. In those early days, 12 canvas buckets were used to fight fires, according to a pamphlet produced by the department.
The first firehouse was built in 1924 on Kingsley Road, funds for which were raised through dances, plays and suppers. The building still stands today between Country Florist and the Burnt Hills Hardware store. In the years that followed, more fire trucks and apparatus were added to the department’s firefighting arsenal.
Today, the fire department consists of two bodies – the fire district governed by the Board of Fire Commissioners in a public election and the fire company, which is overseen by the company president, who is elected by members of the company.
The fire district maintains two firehouses, the main station at the corner of Route 50 and Lakehill Road, which was built in 1950 and which saw an addition of a community room and kitchen in 1971; and Station 2, at the corner of Charlton and Hop City roads, which was built in 1959.
The district runs four trucks. The main station houses ETA 161, a 1,000-gallon tanker, and ER 162, an engine rescue vehicle that carries Holmatro rescue equipment, air packs and additional air bottles, first aid supplies and additional equipment. The rescue engine also contains 750 gallons of water. Station 2 – the one being replaced – houses ETA 171, a 1,000-gallon engine tanker and F-172, a 750-gallon, four-wheel drive pumper, which also carries rescue equipment and supplies.
Covering an area of approximately 20 square miles, the fire district is funded and maintained through local property taxes.
Fire company membership consists of more than 45 volunteer firefighters who are “on call” 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They respond to the firehouse closest to their residence and are informed of an emergency by a paging system connected to 911 Saratoga County Fire Control. The company responds to more than 120 calls each year, and participates in fire safety education, parades, youth sports, and conducts an annual Christmas party and award scholarship.
Funds for the fire company’s activities are obtained through the annual fund drive that is conducted during fire prevention week in October. The Burnt Hills Fire Department is a 501(c)3 organization, and all donations are tax deductible.
The Burnt Hills Fire Department also has an auxiliary to support its firefighters, as needed. Their activities include providing hot and/or cold drinks, as well as light snacks during extended emergency calls and/or providing a meal to firefighters after a call that extends through dinner.
Learn more by calling 518-399-8912 Mondays between 7 and 9 p.m., or by visiting www.burnthillsfd.com.
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