Penn Yan Hydrant Hose Co. marks 150 years

Gwen Chamberlain The Chronicle-Express
Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Hydrant Hose Company of the Penn Yan Fire Department Sept. 25 were (from left): Front: Rick Simpson, George Burnett, Chief Bill LaRock; Row 2: Don Rapalee, State Sen. Tom O’Mara, Derek Christensen, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, Jim Cramer; Row 3: Andrew Wilber of Rep. Tom Reed’s office, Ricky Simpson Jr., Doug Rapalee, Roger Snyder; Back: Mayor Leigh MacKerchar, Brian Laursen, Kevin Pallar, Bob Webster, Steve Rapalee, Bill Sutherland, Butch Mashweske, Marv Potts, Whit Yonge, and Jim Ritter.

Members of the Penn Yan Fire Department’s Hydrant Hose Company celebrated the 150th anniversary of the fire company over the weekend with a member only event Saturday night and a special brunch Sunday at Lakeside Country Club.

The company was founded and organized by 18 businessmen June 3, 1866. It was first called the Hydraulic Hose Company, and in February 1887, the name was changed to the Hydrant Hose Company.

It is one of four companies that comprise the Penn Yan Fire Department. The others are Ellsworth Hose Company, Hunter Hook and Ladder, and Sheldon Hose Company.

According to an article published in 1916, charter members Charles Hunter Sr. and William Beaumont were honored at a celebration of the company’s 50th anniversary. That article listed the original members as Charles Hunter, W.T. Baumont, James Burns, George Cramer, John Wilkinson, W.F. Gaylor, Lewis Rhodes, A. Hicks, John C. Sheetz, S. S. Raplee, H. D. Pratt, F.S. Roberts, L. W. Gage, F. E. Smith, George McAlllister, Y. M. Lattimer, L. O. Dunning and G. F. Wykoff.

Mayor Leigh Mac-Kerchar, New York Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, State Sen. Thomas O’Mara and Andrew Wilber, a representative from U.S. Rep. Tom Reed presented proclamations honoring the sesquicentennial celebration.

In his proclamation, MacKerchar declared Sept. 25, 2016 as Hydrant Hose Day in the Village of Penn Yan, “In recognition and appreciation of their dedication to the safety of the people of the Village of Penn Yan,” he said.

MacKerchar pointed out his grandfather, who passed away about 25 years ago at nearly 100 years old was a member of the Hydrant Hose Company. “At my house when I was growing up, there was a lot of discussion about the fire department. One day, the subject of the oldest fire company came up and my grandfather pointed out that he knew that the Hydrants was the oldest. He claimed it was founded two hours after a caveman discovered fire.”

O’Mara credited the volunteers for the safety and security we all have in rural communities. “Such tradition and such history to protect our way of life. Without it, I don’t know where we would be. It’s my sincere pleasure to present this proclamation.”

Palmesano said he is amazed at the involvement of volunteers and their families over generations. “This proclamation is really a small gesture to really say how much we appreciate what you do,” he said.

Wilber said, “150 years is a long time to be doing anything, and the fact that 150 years has been spent serving this community and protecting this community with volunteer service is just astounding.”

The weekend celebrations were organized by Don Rapalee and Rick Simpson.