Department History

Far Rockaway and Lawrence (then, Oceanus) both had a fire department. Why not Westville? Originally called North West Point, certain members of the community of about 1,000 which is now called Inwood, met together in 1887 to organize a fire company.

Concerned citizens met at the Rhinehart residence and formed the Electric Hook and Ladder Company on January 19, 1887. Subsequent meetings were held, by-laws adopted and a charter was granted, officially recognizing the new fire company on February 15, 1887. Meeting nights were designated as the first Monday of the month, a tradition which has lasted for the past one hundred years.

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At the time, Inwood had about 1,000 residents.  Some were farmers, but mainly the residents were comprised of those who worked the clam and oyster beds in Jamacia Bay. Streets were for the most part sandy or covered by broken oyster shells. Electricity had not yet come to the area.

With many obstacles in there path, the men ran dances, parties and other affairs to accumulate funds. In April, 1887, William Wanser, a charter member located a piece of apparatus in Bayonne, New Jersey, and was authorized to purchase it. With a $20 deposit and a balance of $310 to be paid at a later date, the Electric Hook and Ladder had its first piece of apparatus. The apparatus, a ladder truck, was barged from Bayonne to Westville, where it was put into service immediately.

This piece of apparatus served until 1917 when it was sold to the Roxbury Fire Department. Quarters were needed to house the apparatus so a site was purchased and a building erected in late 1887 at what is now 101 Doughty Blvd. Originally, the ladder truck carried only ladders and buckets.

Later, hose was purchased to connect a few available methods of water supply in the area. In 1893, six Babcock extinguishers were purchased. In the early days, members were closely attached to nearby fire companies and went to each other’s fires and meetings, in fact some members belonged to Electric Hook and Ladder as well as Washington Co. in Lawrence.

In 1888, the name Inwood was selected by the residents of the area to replace the name Westville. A growing population and increasing fire hazard led to the consideration of forming another fire company. In 1902, some younger men of the area, including some from the already established Hook and Ladder, met to form a new company and Citizen Hose Company was founded March 24, 1902.

The first meeting of Citizen Hose was held at the Real Estate Office of Harry C. Davenport. This was the old Combs building on the corner of Lord and Bayview Avenue.