The York Fire Department was established in 1916 following a disasterous fire at “The Marshall House” hotel, which occured January 26, 1916. The Marshall House was a large wooden seaside resort located where the “Stage Neck Colonies” condominiums are located presently. At the time the only fire department in town was the York Beach Fire Department and that was it for Fire Protection for the entire town. It took the primitive apparatus from York Beach approximately 1/2 hour to reach the scene of the blaze in York Harbor. By the time the equipment arrived; there was little that could be done to save the place and it burned flat.
Immediately following the Marshall House inferno, the York Village and Corner ever-ready volunteer fire company was established, its first quarters were in a converted school house in York Village on the present day site of the York Village Fire Station. The First Fire chief was elected to serve the newly organized fire company and Burt Newick was the man who was chosen to fulfill the position.
It is documented that somewhere that around 1923 the “York Village and Corner ever-ready volunteer fire company” was re-organized to be called the York Volunteer Fire Department. Membership in the early days was limited to men ages 21 and older and it is written that there was no trouble recruiting suitable candidates as it was speculated that “it seemed as if three quarters of the town’s eligible young men were becoming volunteer firefighters!”
Early firefighters did their best with primitive equipment, the first fire engine is believed to be a second hand Knox steam powered fire engine and some sort of early “ladder wagon” The knox was particularly unreliable and prone to not starting. On the way to a fire once the boiler was lit to power the fire pump but the tractor wouldn’t start and the fire truck had to be pushed out of the station smoke belching from its smokestack.
In 1923 The York Village Fire Department hired its first “live in” or “permanent firefighter” William Sullivan was hired in April that year and lived in the fire station taking care of the building and equipment and responding to alarms when they came in. William Sullivan even made it to Fire Chief of the department before his passing in 1950.
1925 York Village Fire purchases a 1925 American LaFrance type 65 pumping engine and hose car with a 400gpm fire pump this was funded partially by fundraising and a small portion paid for by the town.
Around 1928 The York Village Fire Department installs its first municipal fire alarm telegraph system. It is unclear who installed the boxes and wiring but it is believed that the members did some of the work themselves. Further, not much is known about the manufacturer of the equipment installed but some of the boxes were manufactured by the Harrington-Seaberg Fire Alarm Telegraph Co. of Moline Illinois.
1929 The York Village Fire Department purchases a 1929 Seagrave pumper, This fire truck would serve until 1959
Around 1940 the York Village Fire Department takes delivery of a 1940 Seagrave city service ladder truck which was subsequently wrecked responing to an alarm on August 18, 1941. It was later rebuilt by Seagrave and returned to service.
In 1950 with the passing of William Sullivan a replacement was needed for the permanent firefighter position. Charles Ramsdell was hired and his family moved in during the summer of 1950.
In 1954 the fire department “corporation” (firefighters association is referred to as the “corporation” in YFD vernacular) in conjunction with the “Red Shirts” a group of summer colonists devoted to improving fire protection for their lavish summer houses in York purchase the first two way radios for the department.
1959 the 1959 American LaFrance 900 series 750/500 pumper is delivered, it would remain in service until the year 2000
Engine 2 conducts its acceptance test in August of 1959 at Scituate pond. FF Charles Ramsdell and unkown American LaFrance factory representative. This truck was always known to be reliable up until its retirement in 2000.
1966 the York Village Fire Department celebrated its 50th anniversary in a firemen’s field day known as “the big one” a parade float consisting of a large whale was entered in the parade that year.
1970 a new 1970 American LaFrance pumper was delivered it is a 1000gpm pump and a 500 gallon water tank. It would later be repowered with a 6-71 Detroit Diesel engine. This truck would serve with distinction until 2009 when it was replaced by a quint obtained with a fire act grant.
Engine 3 sits on the apron of the old fire station ready to respond.
1974 York Village Fire experiences its first Line of Duty Death when Lt. Wayne Fuller dies in a motor vehicle accident responding to a reported fire on July 4, 1974. This is the first and only LODD to date in the YVFD.
1978 funds were appropriated for a new fire station to be built on the same location as the former firehouse in York Village. The old one was razed and Permanent Firefighter Charles Ramsdell resided in a trailer out front while the construction went on around him.
1979 FF Charles Ramsdell retires from the YVFD after 39 years as a full time firefighter, two firefighters are hired to take his place, FF Keith Bishop and FF Edward Walsh. They would work 48 on 48 off making a 84 hour workweek.
1985 Chief Chris Balentine is “elected” by the membership to be the fire chief succeeding former Fire Chief Kenneth Towne. Chief Balentine is still in office as the Fire Chief in 2013 although the position hasn’t been voted on in many years. It is now an appointed position.
also in 1985 a third firefighter Scott Apgar is hired to be another full time firefighter and the hours reduced from 84 to 56 where they remain today. The department was and still is predominately staffed with volunteers.
1986 York Village Firefighters participate in the first area Firefighter I class, a huge step at the time and now considered an industry standard for all entry level firefighters.
also in 1986 the YFD purchases its first ever “Jaws of Life” tools manufactured by the the Amkus Company.
1991 a new tank truck is delivered, it is a 1991 Mack/Central States Fire apparatus, the first purpose built tank truck in the YFD history. Historically tank trucks were built by the membership out of converted oil tankers.
1994 the 9-1-1 system comes to York, Maine. until this point to report an emergency you called 363-3144 for a fire and the phone was answered by the permanent firefighter on duty who would then tone out the fire call before boarding the first piece of fire apparatus to respond.
1996 Engine 5 (now Engine 6) is refurbished and has a built in foam system installed. The first YFD piece of apparatus to be equipped with on board foam which can be placed in service with only the push of a button.
2001 Engine 4 is delivered to York Village Fire Department. it is a 2001 Pierce Enforcer 1500gpm pump and a 1000gallon tank This also is equipped with 30 gallons of class A foam.
2004 The YFD is a recipient of a generous gift in the form of the first fire/rescue boat by York Harbor resident Chris Connors.
2009 this year the YFD is awarded a fire act grant in the amount of $500,000 allowing us to replace the 1970 American LaFrance Snorkel and Engine 8 the 1970 American LaFrance with a Pierce Quint designated Truck 8
Later in 2009 the Town of York voters approved a bond in the amount of $422,800 to purchase a rescue pumper to replace the aging Mack/Pierce running as Squad 1, the bond was approved and the apparatus went into service in December 2009
2013 Car 12 is donated by the Firemen’s Fund International, an insurance company. It is subsequently equipped and outfitted with red lights and siren etc…