Shaftsbury Fire Department

Shaftsbury Fire Department
Chartered August 20, 1761

Scientists have proven that fire is a chemical reaction in the combustion process where fuel (solid, liquid or gas) combines with oxygen and releases heat- energy, light and smoke. Mythicists (interpreters of mythology), such as the Ancient Greeks, believe that the Titan Prometheus took fire from Mount Olympus and brought it to earth to benefit all of mankind. Fire as we know it, has been used by humans for centuries for cooking, generating heat and light, for signaling, for forging, incinerating wastes etc. But fire can quickly destroy life and property when used inappropriately. When that happens, we are most fortunate to have brave heroes in our Volunteer Fire Department here in Shaftsbury.

Historic Shaftsbury Fire Department photo

Hundreds of years ago, Shaftsbury townsfolk formed Fire Brigades to stop the ravages of destructive fires. Neighbors would help neighbors by gathering buckets of water from nearby ponds and streams to extinguish unwanted fires. Sometimes this worked, but sadly, they were not always able to stop the fire from spreading and destroying houses and barns. Then, in 1871, Eagle Square Manufacturing Company- Stanley Tools purchased a Bucket Hose Cart to be used to extinguish fires. If a fire broke out, they would ring a bell and anyone who heard it would come to help. The Hose Cart apparatus was advantageous because it could rapidly reach water sources from ponds and streams at greater distances and get more water to extinguish the out-of-control fire quickly. You might have even seen this 1870’s cart proudly displayed in past Battle Day Parades!

In 1931, the first Shaftsbury Fire House was built alongside of Cole Hall. Frank Hoyt was the first Chief and remained so for the next 19 years. Members paid dues to belong, dined together at meetings and were fined fifteen cents if they missed their first meeting, twenty-five cents for missing a second meeting and suspended if they missed four meetings. The first fire gear purchased by our town consisted of (2) raincoats, (2) pairs of boots and (3) pairs of goggles. Fred Stacy and Charlie Becker were members at that time and continued to dedicate their lives to our SFD. Shaftsbury Women’s Auxiliary was also formed in the 1930’s and continued until circa 1990’s.

In 1949, Fred Stacy became Chief. The first Halloween Parade sponsored by the SFD took place in our town and continued for fifty-nine years. In 1957, the Fire Station adjacent to the school was built. Air horns were mounted on the roof and on Eagle Square/Stanley Tools buildings. Numerous courageous men and women continued to volunteer and took pride in protecting our town.
In the 1970’s, Chief Kelly was in command. In 1971, SFD entered into a Mutual Aid agreement with White Creek, NY. Communication radios were introduced and Plectrons were purchased in 1973. Chief Kelly also introduced the truck check sheet to enhance preparedness. In 1977, an addition was built to Fire Station I and plans were underway for the construction of Station II.

Pagers were introduced to SFD in March 1981. In September 1982, ground breaking for Station II began and the official start of Fire Prevention Week commenced. On July 4, 1984 the Fire District Bill was signed by Governor Snelling to expand protection beyond the village and to encompass the entire town.

Advances in technology and equipment are ever changing. Under the guidance of our current Chief Joe Vadakin, 1st Asst. Chief Jay Coonradt (S.E.S.’s very own hero) and 2nd Asst. Chief Mike Taylor, firefighters undertake rigorous training sessions, attend school to enhance their skills and are certified for rescue, response and recovery missions. At age fourteen, with parental consent, a youngster may join SFD as a Junior Firefighter and at age eighteen as a Firefighter.

SFD continues its proud volunteer tradition. In 2011, it celebrated its Sestercentennial - 250th Anniversary and honored 93 year old Charlie Becker and his wife Marion with a plaque renaming the Fire Station l - The Charles and Marion Becker Fire Facility. Shaftsbury’s Charlie Becker has been an exemplary firefighter, pump operator and driver and is the oldest know firefighter in the state of Vermont! He, along with his many courageous colleagues, dedicated his life to protecting us through the Shaftsbury Fire Department.