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Our History

Islip Terrace FD History

The result of an informal meeting of a number of prominent local citizens was the incorporation of Germantown Hose Company on January 13, 1916.

Shortly thereafter, the Wolpert Realty Company donated land and quickly set about constructing the first firehouse on Carleton Avenue in Islip Terrace. The first organizational meeting held on May 19, 1917, saw Charles Wolpert appointed as temporary chairman and K. Henry Hinst as temporary Secretary. The fire Chief of the local Central Islip State Hospital Fire Department, James Gallagher, advisor to the fledgling group of firefighters, was elected Chief Engineer. Fredrick Engelke became the first Treasurer; Harry Oppenheimer took on the tasks of both recording and financial Secretary. A total of thirty members signed their names at that meeting and a tradition was born.

On June 30, 1917, the opening of the newly constructed firehouse was quite an event for the small village. Firemen from Islip, Central Islip, Bay Shore and East Islip all dressed in Class A uniforms marched down Carleton Avenue led by Cris Thompson astride his white horse and the Central Islip State Hospital Band. Behind the marchers, a hose wagon was drawn, a gift to the Fire Company from the Islip Fire Department. It became the first apparatus of Germantown Hose Company. The wagon was presented to Chief James Gallagher, who thanked Chief Charles Bollinger of Islip and with a firm handshake formed the basis of an unwritten mutual assistance pact between the two departments that survives to this day.

Charles Wolpert was introduced as the real father of the Fire Company for his financial and moral support. The first fire calls came to the Richard Wolpert house as they possessed a phone. Mr. or Mrs. Wolpert would run down the street to the firehouse and ring the bell to alert other members.

By 1919, the Company became a central focus of the community building a stage in the firehouse and hosting numerous events. As well the apparatus was modernized with the addition of a converted farm wagon and Billy the horse, long retired from his toils in the fields. Oddly named the Company still used Bucket Brigades to quench structure fires as the water supply was not yet constructed.

In 1921 the old farm wagon and horse was replaced with a new Chemical Truck complete with hose and Indian cans. It is said that the truck got stuck in the dirt roads of the village and was pushed to fires more often than not prompting some members to demand the recall of the horse instead of the new-fangled technology. (Doesn't that sound familiar!)

In 1924 the name of the Fire Company was officially changed to Islip Terrace Fire Department to more properly reflect the community it served. The same year the first race truck was built by the members, converting a donated Pathfinder sedan, a hose tower was added to the firehouse and a new bell as well. The department and the community both grew and developed together over the years, transforming both from a sleepy little farm town to a modern residential suburb and a seventy-five-member department with five companies and one squad, operating eighteen pieces of apparatus from two stations.

Only one engine displays the original company name to this day in glittering gold leaf. It is as it should be - our predecessors had only one truck and we have only one tradition; proud service to the community.

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