“They actually had wooden fire hydrants,” Tallman said. “They would take logs, hollow them out. Before they had metal pipes, that’s what they would use to transport water.”
Cooperstown had as many as seven fire companies at one time and each company had it’s own captain. Each captain thought he was in charge of a fire scene, which led to a lot of chaos and confusion.
Eventually the issue was resolved when the first fire chief, Marcus Field, was elected on May 5, 1873. Challenges still exist today for the Cooperstown Volunteer Fire Department. There are more and more equipment requirements to keep the firefighters safe, and that equipment isn’t cheap.
“Originally when we bought the air packs they cost between $500 and $700,” Tallman said. “Air packs today cost about $6,500. Air pack life is approximately 15 years. That’s what they tell you, every 15 years replace your air packs.”
Recently the fire department got rid of two fire trucks in exchange for a bigger fire truck.
“Because our numbers have gone down and rather than seeing a truck sit in the station and find out when we got to the scene that was the truck we really needed because of the equipment it carried, we got rid of two trucks and purchased one. It’s a larger truck but it does serve two purposes — it’s a rescue truck and a fire engine,” Tallman stated.
The new fire truck cost the department $450,000.
“Luckily, years ago Mayor Hollis set up a reserve fund and every truck in the fire hall, besides our old '52 Mack and the ladder truck, every other truck in that hall was paid for out of that reserve fund,” Tallman said.
The Cooperstown Volunteer Fire Department responds to about 800 medical emergencies per year and 225 fire calls. Last year, 59 calls came from an alarm system and of those, only five were deemed malicious — two came from very small children who pulled the alarm while in the arms of an adult and three came from nursing homes.