Derby Fire Department
Today, the Derby Fire Department consist of four separate fire houses located throughout the city. The fire houses, Hotchkiss Hose Co. #1, Storm Engine Co. #2, East End Hose Co. #3 and Paugassett Hook & Ladder Co. #4, provide the emergency services to the citizens in the City of Derby and frequently are called to neighboring towns for Mutual Aid. Below is a little history of each company.
Hotchkiss Hose Company #1
In the village of Derby Landing, which included that section in East Derby near the docks and taking in the vicinity of the Mansion house corner, Gilbert, Bank and Commerce Streets, four years before the commencement of the village of Smithville, later called Birmingham on the west side of the river, Abijah Wallace and some other inhabitants of the village at the Landing, petitioned the state general assembly with the following result:
At the meeting or general assembly of the state of Connecticut at New Haven in said state, on the first Wednesday of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty.
Upon the petition of Abijah Wallace and others of Derby in New Haven county, showing to this assembly that in the village called the Landing in said Derby, the dwelling houses, stores and manufactories are from their contiguity to each other, greatly exposed to fires, that the inhabitants have purchased a valuable fire engine and praying for the establishment of a fire company as per the petition dated May 8th, 1830.
Resolved by this assembly, that the selectmen of said town of Derby, be and are hereby authorized to meet at the dwelling house of Ethel Keeney, in said Derby on the First Monday of June 1830, then and there to enlist from any of the inhabitants of said village a fire engine company by the name of the ‘Derby Fire Engine Company’ to consist of not more than sixteen persons, who shall all be residents of said village; which company so enlisted shall have power to appoint the necessary officers for said company, to make all necessary by-laws proper for the regulation of said company and its concerns in order that the said engine may be preserved and worked in the best manner; to fill by voluntary enlistment any vacancies that may happen in said company; and shall be enlisted to exercise all the powers and privileges which are granted to fire companies in this state.
Storm Engine Company #2
Eighty-two years ago, the Storm Engine Company, the second of Derby's three fire companies, came into existence. The company was chartered by the State of Connecticut September 14, 1853. Today, they represent an important part of Derby's fire department, a dependable company, alert and with a membership fully cognizant of its responsibility that is theirs as a unit of the city's volunteer fire fighting system.
The Company really had its origin in 1851, when a group of young men of the Borough of Birmingham, who were interested in a fire company, met and organized the company under its present name. Professor Stevens, principal of the Birmingham public school, became the first foreman of the new company, which was raised to the status of a regular Unit of the fire department when it was chartered by the state. For many years, the company was associated with the "Latch- String" order which extended throughout the state and many fraternal visits were exchanged with the New Haven "Latch- Stringers."
The Storm Engine Company occupies quarters in a brick building located on the easterly side of Elizabeth Street. Into this company's keeping went the first motorized fire fighting apparatus purchased by the City of Derby, a Seagrave pumper which was acquired in 1917 and used for many years.
Captains of the Storm Engine Company since 1877 have been: John Leonard, John J. Fitzgerald, Michael Keenan, William Houlihan, J. J. Carroll, Frank Reilly, Dennis Lee, William H. O'Neil, Peter Ward, Thomas O'Dell, Thomas F. Conaty, Henry A. Killeen, William Duggan, John P. Ryan, James D. Carey, P. J. Welch, William T. Lenihan, William H. Stier, Frank Donahue, George H. Murphy, Fred A. Casey, Edward Cotter, John Costigan, William H. Degnan, William H. Boyle, Joseph CoIwell, Jr., Dennis Callaghan, Robert Hennessey, Harold Carey, Charles Conaty, Daniel McGeough, Fred Grant, Earl Eaton, Charles Lortz, Thomas Gillon, William Clynch, Thomas Kiley and Franklin H Degnan.
The Storms conduct their annual concert and ball on Thanksgiving eve of each year. They constitute an enterprising, active company and promote many social activities among the members. The company's parade carriage, purchased in 1885, was one of the features of the city's Tercentenary parade, September 21, 1935.
East End Hose Company #3
East End Hose Co. #3 is a company within the Derby Fire Department. The company was organized in 1950 as an independent volunteer fire company located in east Derby. The company was founded by local citizens who saw the need for a fire company on the east side of Derby. East End became part of the City of Derby Fire Department in 1975. To this day, the values from which we were founded remain steadfast in our service to the community.
Paugassett Hook & Ladder Company #4
BASSETT HOOK & LADDER CO #1 (Derby) - Derby's hook and ladder company from 1874 until about 1916. Formally called the R. M. Bassett Hook & Ladder Company, their first firehouse was on Lower Main Street, and in 1889 they moved into quarters on the FOURTH STREET side of the Sterling Opera House. They appear to have found themselves on the wrong side in a battle with the political establishment around 1915, and soon found themselves without a firehouse of their own, and effectively disbanded. Their ladder truck was given to Paugassett Hose Company in East Derby (against the hose company's wishes, creating a whole new controversy), and to this day Paugassett Hook & Ladder Company continues to serve the Derby Fire Department.