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Port Washington Volunteer Fire Department:
Atlantic Hook & Ladder Company
No. 1

"The First Fire Company" 1

"One evening in 1886 a group of citizens met to discuss ways and means for the defense against a common enemy - FIRE.

The village at that time boasted of 1000 inhabitants. It was before the day of gas, electricity and even the railroad. The automobile was not heard of until years later and the airplane had not become even a dream of the Wright Brothers.

Port Washington was then a placid village far removed from the excitement of the then far away New York. Many of the citizens of that day had never even been to the great city.

Main Street was lined with cherry trees and was known as Flower Hill Avenue. The harbor known to all as Cow Bay was a means of livelihood for many of the residents. When, as sometimes happens, fire broke out, the good neighbors came running with pails and the fire was fought by a bucket brigade, who passed the buckets from hand to hand from a nearby well.

The necessity of more efficient fire protection was apparent to everyone and so was organized...", 2 in September of 1886, Atlantic Hook & Ladder Company by Charles Ephriam Baxter with a total of 26 members. That initial organizational meeting was held at McKee's store on Shore Road at Harbor Road. The first officers were:
  • Foreman Tilford Stuyvesant, Jr.
  • 2nd Assistant Foreman Charles E. Strickland
  • Secretary Charles Pearsall
  • Treasurer Gideon Seaman.
building

Seaman owned the "Old Heidelberg", a thirty seven room hotel with restaurant and bar, located at the corner of Main Street and Shore Road. It was here that Atlantic held all their subsequent meetings until they had their own building. Seaman made the first donation, as well as other early contributions, and was bestowed the honor of giving Atlantic its name.

There is no recorded history of how Atlantic's role became any different than the loosely knit citizens fighting fires before them, except there was now organization and leadership. It can only be assumed that each member continued to bring their own bucket to a fire along with the continued support of all citizens. The general rule in those days was for some people to fight the fire while others tried to empty the house and save the contents.

Port's First Firefighting Equipment

It was not until July of 1888 that the first fire apparatus manufactured by the Gleason & Bailey Company, Seneca Falls, New York arrived. It was a "beautiful" hand-drawn hook and ladder truck, thirty-two feet long, weighing 1040 pounds, and well equipped with hooks, ladders, buckets, axes, lanterns and pull ropes. It cost the Company $407. Initially, the truck was "housed in the old wheelwright shop that stood on the present site of Marshall's boat establishment" (between the present day Town Dock and Knickerbocker Yacht Club). It was later moved to property owned by Thomas Fay on Carlton Avenue. At the same time the Port Washington citizens were introduced to the splendid new uniforms of blue hats, white duck pants and the famous red shirts that would make Atlantic the centerpiece in parades for decades to come.

In December of 1889 a 50' x 100' lot on Prospect Avenue was purchased for $225 for the "erection of a Fireman's Hall." The money to pay for the lot and the Gleason & Bailey ladder truck was raised by subscription among the citizens and members. Additional funds were raised through other activities as evidenced by a program dated April 23, 1889, featuring a concert at the Free Church.

Incorporation

On March 13, 1890, "Atlantic Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, Inc. of Port Washington," Queens County was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York through the efforts of James L. Baxter, Attorney, and Counsel for the Company, as well as a member. The recorded members signing were: Thomas M. Willets, Warren S. Weeks, Theodore F. Morgan, Lucius C. Jones, Charles E. Strickland, Charles W. Cowens, John H. Molyneux, James E. Davis, M. Phillip Davis, William H. McQueen, Luther L. Terrell, Edward F. Ryder, Thomas Carman, Sylvan B. Strickland, Henry Stubbs, Forrest S. Terry, Cornelius V. Seaman, Alfred M. Strickland, Judson DeGraff, Jedial Garrison, Timothy J. Bird, and Charles E. Baxter. 3

The officers at the time of the incorporation were:

  • Foreman Charles E. Strickland
  • 1st Asst. Foreman Charles A. Davis
  • 2nd Asst. Foreman Luther L. Terrell
  • Secretary Timothy J. Bird
  • Financial Secretary Sylvan B. Strickland
  • Treasurer James Davis
  • Trustees James L. Baxter, Stephen T. Velsor, Timothy J. Bird.

There were thirty members in the Company.

The Original Firehouse - "Liberty Hall"

It appears as though the original lot on Prospect Avenue, purchased in December of 1889, was never used to any great extent. Meetings at the "Old Heidelberg" Hotel were soon found to be decidedly inconvenient for a headquarters. With the assistance of the "Helping Hand Society", composed of members' wives and other lady friends who held fairs, the Company solicited subscriptions and issued bonds for a more suitable location. According to Company records, "Wishing to change the location of the building site the Company purchased a lot on Carlton Avenue on April 28, 1891."

Sperry Mechanical Engineers submitted plans and specifications for the building to contractors in the village. Some of the specifications included: use of the best lumber, hemlock boards for sheathing, black tin for the roof, and a "double-waist" closet outside. William H. Hults, a member of the Company, was the lowest bidder. The foundation was finished at the end of June. Preparations were made for laying the corner stone on the 4th of July 1891 with an appropriate ceremony and parade to make the day memorable in the history of the village. The Building Committee consisted of Issac M. Allen, Theodore F. Morgan and Cornelius V. Seaman.

"The new truck house of Atlantic Hook and Ladder Company of Port Washington was dedicated Thursday afternoon. Among the speakers were B.W. Downing, Rev. W.H. Russell and Rev. Zabriskie of Manhasset. The house is a two story, the upper floor being used as a public hall. The building is 50x32, and cost $3,700, one half of which was subscribed by Susan Cornwell, who also donated a piano and a stove" 4 The dedication took place on November 5, 1891 at 2 p.m. and concluded with a dance in the evening. The price per ticket was fifty cents. Attendees included fire companies from Sea Cliff, Roslyn, Mineola, Oyster Bay, City Island, Hollis and Flushing.

"Mrs. Susan Cornwell was the largest purchaser of bonds and the honor of naming the Hall was allotted to her. Mrs. Cornwell prophesied that the property would be free of all encumbrances in a short time and designated the building Liberty Hall." 5

Center of Community Activities

building

Liberty Hall was constructed to provide for public meetings and entertainment on the second floor, with sufficient room for Atlantic headquarters on the first floor to include a truck room, private meeting room and kitchen. It became the center of community activities for decades to come. Countless fund raising events, concerts, plays and village meetings were held there. The first motion picture shown in town was in Liberty Hall and, for a period of time, the meeting room was transformed into a basketball court by the local athletic association. Church services were also held there on Sunday afternoons.

As there was no regular source of income for Atlantic, Liberty Hall became a great asset. Most organizations using the Hall were charged a fee and it was used constantly. Other events included annual picnics on the 4th of July, dances on Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, as well as other events. Always working with the members were the women of "The Helping Hand Society".

Sounding the Alarm

The construction of Liberty Hall included a bell tower in the front. The large bell, made in Seneca Falls, New York, was donated by member J.E. Lassig. This became the only alerting device for the firemen for many years. Telephone service came to Port Washington in the late 1880s but it was limited. The Lawrence family, who lived next to Liberty Hall, had a phone and fire calls would be relayed to them to ring the bell. For the most part it was Mrs. Ethelinda "Ma" Lawrence who would perform this task. As the stories were told, it didn't matter what time of the day, or what the weather, she would, faithfully ring that bell. For her service she was eventually made an "Honorary" Deputy Chief of the fire department. In addition, "Ma" Lawrence served as the unofficial babysitter for firemen's children who were in the firehouse when the alarm sounded - which the kids liked because "Ma" always had homemade cookies and milk for them.

Poet Laureate

During construction of Liberty hall a weather vane was added. Years later when it was removed, Company member and local poet, Ex-Foreman W.C. Leiber, was stirred to write a poem about it.

The Atlantic Hook & Ladder Co's Weather Vane

For Thirty Years a faithful servant
A'top old "Liberty Hall."
Pointing vanely, in the right direction
In early Spring or late in the Fall.

North and West meant clearing
South and East brought rain,
Through Winter gales and Summer showers
Proudly pointed the Weather Vane.

At last I took a tumble
They brought me down one Mor'n.
And now I'm in the Fire House,
Where a wall space I'll adorn.

Erected June 4th 1891.
Taken down December 5th 1920
by Harry Brown, W. C. Leiber
Nicholas Vanderwall, George Slocum

W.C. Leiber
December 27, 1920

Members of Atlantic attended their first County parade in September of 1888 in Jamaica. This was the Queens County Firemen's Parade. Nassau County did not come into existence until 1898. In addition, the members ventured to the Columbus Day Parade in New York City, the Washington Day Parade in Brooklyn, and fire company parades in Sea Cliff, Mineola, Oyster Bay, and Hempstead to mention a few. Teams of horses were hired to pull the ladder truck on these occasions.

Another poem by W.C. Leiber describes the men of Atlantics who marched in the parades.

The Still Alarm

"Atlantics" all dressed up in red
Follow the band with the steady tread;
Their white duck pants are now all soiled,
From walking the roads that have been oiled.
They walk erect with white gloved hands,
And pay attention to the chief's commands;
That steady column of red and whites,
March through the town from hollow to heights,
The engine bells add to the noise
And the village belles cheer on the boys;
They're all parched through to the skin,
Willing to stop at the nearest inn,
Each one a well filled cup to get
Of ginger, pop and pie.
The Atlantic Ocean is so wet
And "Atlantics" are so dry.

W.C. Leiber
May 19, 1909

Two for One

In September of 1891 Protection Engine Company No. 1 was organized, and chartered on April 5, 1892. Why was a second fire company organized so quickly? No recorded history has ever been found to answer the question and one can only speculate. There was a need for another company to perform a different function than Atlantic. That function was to furnish a reliable supply of water. This, of course, would compliment Atlantic and their operation. Charles E. Strickland was the principal organizer of both companies along with several other original members (Edwin Ryder, Forrest Terry, Charles E. Baxter, Alfred Strickland). In addition, Charles Strickland was Protection's first "Foreman" and, as noted earlier, he was also the first "Assistant Foreman" of Atlantic and became their Foreman! "Evidently Mr. Strickland was a firm believer in ample protection against fire for he started both companies ... " 6

Tragedy struck on August 19, 1892. James E. Davis became the first member of the fire service in Port Washington to die in the line of duty. Davis was a Charter Member of Atlantic as well as the Treasurer. Atlantic and Protection placed black bunting on their buildings and fire apparatus, attending funeral services as one unit.

Atlantic's Classic Uniform

In May of 1893, the minutes of Atlantic defined their uniforms: The Foreman and Assistant Foreman would wear "White fire hats, with white fronts and black lettering; Red double-breasted shirts, the Foreman having two trumpets and the assistants one trumpet; White leather belts with Foreman or Assistant Foreman in white, two or one trumpet on the slide in the front, all with red background, and white duck pants." "Privates would wear black fire hats with white lettering; Red double-breasted shirts with white monogram of Company consisting of a hook and ladder crossed and the figure "1" in the center; white leather belts with Atlantic in white on red background; and white duck pants." Other than the changing of uniform hats to all black this would remain their uniforms until 1956.

Welcome to the Neighborhood

In January of 1901 a headline in the Brooklyn Eagle read, "Housing of Protection Engine Company Machine". The related article reported that, "Liberty Hall, in this village, last evening was the scene of what the laddies of the local fire companies called a 'big time.' The occasion was the housing of Protection Engine Company's machine in the rooms of Atlantic Hook and Ladder Company No. 1. The event was of special interest to the members of the Fire department and the villagers in general, for it will bring the companies into closer relationship and may lead to a consolidation of their interests, which in a sense, would insure still better service.

Accompanied by the Nassau County Band of Port Washington, the Hook and Ladder Company escorted their brother fire fighters to the Hall, where the engine was housed. The engine boys were then invited to the hall above where a sumptuous supper, a love feast so to speak, was served. Afterwards cigars were passed around, and a smoker intermingled with band and phonograph music and games of various kinds were enjoyed until a late hour."

The cost to Protection for use of the Hall for meetings and the truck room for the pumper was $16 per month. This arrangement would last until the fall of 1905 when Protection was told to, "vacate the premises by November 1st!" There isn't any recorded reason for this, however old-timers from both Companies tell the tale that Protection beat Atlantic in a tournament and that was that! The November minutes do indicate that Atlantic had a small change of heart offering Protection the use of the horse shed behind Liberty Hall.

On May 10, 1902, a disastrous fire struck lower Main Street at Shore Road and historically became known as the Bayles fire. It was one of the most devastating fires in Port, even to now. A large portion of the town was destroyed and assistance came from Sea Cliff, Roslyn, Great Neck and as far away as Flushing and Bayside. A few weeks later, as a sign of appreciation, Atlantic and Protection invited all those assisting at the fire to a parade, dinner and entertainment.

Also in 1902 electricity was added to Liberty Hall and fire exits and escapes were added as well. Telephone service was added in the spring of 1906 to include a "gong" in the fire house and in 1912 a telephone extension was placed in the Lawrence home to help expedite the ringing of the fire bell. Gas was added in 1913.

Due to the vast expansion of population and buildings, a group of citizens, including some members of Atlantic and Protection, formed Flower Hill Hose Company No. 1 in the spring of 1905. Its firehouse would be (and still is) located in the vicinity of the railroad station.

Hose Wagon

In the fall of 1905 Atlantic ordered a hose wagon made of steel from the John Simmons Company of New York at a cost of $622.50. The wagon was to be, "painted white with red and gold lettering and that the inscription on the side be the Atlantic Hook, Ladder and Hose Company, and on the seat frame Port Washington, Long Island." The wagon would not arrive until the end of December.

An interesting note is the wording to be put on the wagon ‑ Atlantic Hook, Ladder and Hose Company. The use of the word "hose" was something new, although the Company banner being used at that time also included the same wording.However, there is no indication when the banner was actually made, although it does appear in pictures during this period. There does not appear to be any instance of the wording being used after this era. Is there an explanation for the altered Company name? None that can be found, other than Atlantic now had a hose wagon.

The wagon and hose would be put to good use as hydrants were being placed around town and, although the only pumper was that of Protection, the hose could operate directly from the hydrant pressure.

Fire Department Organized

The first seeds of forming a "department" were sown at the September, 1905 Company meeting. The minutes stated, "Motion to correspond with Protection and Flower Hill in regard to taking up the matter of appointing a committee of three to confer with a committee from their Companies in regards to forming a fire department." These committees from each Company would become known, collectively, as "The Committee of Three."

It would be another year and a half before everyone could agree on a solution. Thrown into the mix was a group of displeased members from Atlantic and Protection who banded together and formed another fire company known as Nassau Hose Company No. 2. The Port Washington Fire Department came into existence in March of 1907 with Frederick Snow of Flower Hill being elected Chief. Chief Snow was highly qualified, having recently retired as a Battalion Chief of the Brooklyn Fire Department. Timothy J. Bird of Atlantic was 1st Assistant Chief and would follow Snow as Chief.

Nassau Hose was not immediately accepted into the Department as it would not receive its incorporation papers for a few more months, at which time it was accepted. Nassau Hose used Protection's old hose cart and eventually bought a motorized vehicle but never had a permanent home. It went out of business in 1922. Most the members joined one of the other Companies.

Maintaining the Equipment

The forerunner of the present day engineering staff was called the "Leader Committee." At each monthly meeting three members would be appointed by the Foreman to handle work around the firehouse and on the equipment. The minutes during that time stated, "It shall be the duty of the Leader Committee to see that the truck and hose wagon and everything belonging thereto including the rooms and lamps be well cleaned and in good working order and to continue so for one month. And for each neglect of duty shall be fined such fine not to exceed $1."

The original building lot of Liberty Hall stretched from Carlton Avenue to Washington Street in the rear (Washington Street had not been divided at that time into North and South). In March of 1906 it was decided to sell the back portion of the lot, measuring 50' x 100', to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Sewanaka Lodge for $500. The agreement contained the clause, "Atlantic Hook and Ladder Company #1 to have a right of way to either street and the shed to be moved to a convenient location at the expense of Odd Fellows and to be mutually used." In addition, each person still holding bonds on the property would have to agree, which they did.

Atlantic's First Motorized Fire Truck

In August of 1911 $500 was placed in a special fund for the purchase of an "auto-truck". A 1910 "Oliver" had become available in town and with some modifications would be suitable for the needs of Atlantic. The total cost came to $625 which included new paint. $250 in donations was made by members of the community for the truck. Ladders were placed on both sides, buckets were hung under the ladders and hose placed in the bed. Atlantic had their first motorized fire truck. An order was issued by the Foreman that, "the first six men arriving at the firehouse would ride the truck." This allowed for two men in the cab and four on the back step. At the same time the hose wagon was made available for sale at a price of $300. It would not be until 1914 when it was finally sold for $200.

Ladies Auxiliary

The first mention of a "Ladies Auxiliary" was noted in March of 1912. Prior to that, as previously mentioned, there was an organization called "The Helping Hand Society." It appears that both organizations performed nearly the same functions. Members of the new "Auxiliary" were, "all wives, daughters, sisters and mothers of members". They were given the privileges of "holding meetings, dances and other fund raising activities" in Liberty Hall. The Ladies Auxiliary continues in existence to this day having gone through various forms of re-organization over the years. Enough can never be said of the sacrifices and devotion the "Ladies" have made, and continue to make, through their moral support, fund raising activities and providing refreshments during emergencies.

The period of 1913 and 1914 was a busy time. The old wooden ramp in front of Liberty Hall was replaced with concrete; sidewalks were installed; a large light was placed in the front of the building; a new heating system plus an inside toilet and cesspool were added. An annual contract was signed with the Port Washington Athletic Association for their meetings and basketball games to be held at the Hall. Also, preparations were underway to set money aside for another "auto-truck".

First Contract With the Town

As a result of the passage of the Maloney Act allowing volunteer fire companies to collect tax money, in 1914 Atlantic and the other Companies signed a five year contract with the Town of North Hempstead for fire protection. Each Company's share would be $558.75 per year. Up to that point all the funds needed to operate were raised by the activities of the Company and the ladies.

During these early years Atlantic was known as the "Silk Stocking Company," since a large number of their members were the "elite" of the community.

Motorized Ladder Truck

In December of 1918, after four years of saving money and issuing bonds, Atlantic took delivery of a new "Republic" ladder truck with pump at a cost of $5,225. "The new apparatus, a combination hook and ladder and hose cart, is 38 feet long overall, is mounted on a Republic truck with a wheelbase of 220 inches, and is capable of a speed of thirty-five miles an hour. It was ordered built according to plans and specifications furnished and drafted by the local company, which provided for a modern Peter Persh ladder outfit and a rotary pump capable of throwing 550 gallons of water per minute. Besides meeting these and other requirements, it is painted vermillion and has enough gold trimming on it to cause a Barnum & Bailey circus wagon to turn green with envy." 7

The "Old Republic" was quite a fire truck and left a lasting impression in the fire department. It could do it all! It had ladders, hose and a pump that could produce large volumes of water and was the envy of not only the local fire companies but those of surrounding communities. It even attracted the attention of the New York City Fire Department whose engineers were quite impressed.

Fire Alarm System

With the railroad coming to town in 1898, and being located inland and away from the old village, there was a great expansion of building and the resulting shift in population away from the bay. Atlantic proposed and instituted a districting system for the sounding of the bell in the event of fire with each district having a certain number of rings. In addition, arrangements had been made with the Long Island Railroad for the steam trains to sound their whistles. The Crescent Sand and Gravel Company, located in the area of Murray and Reid Avenues and Plandome Road would eventually help by sounding their steam whistle.

As time went on all of these systems were becoming less and less effective with the continuing growth in population and expansion of the town. There were too many variables: weather, people being in the right place at the right time to ring the bell or sound the whistles. It would take a devastating and shocking fire on January 23, 1922, when a whole block of Main Street was destroyed (from Herbert Avenue to North Bayles Avenue) and two children were killed. This became known as the Muzante fire. Atlantic and Protection were delayed in responding to the alarm as no one heard the bell. Flower Hill Hose Company was initially fighting the fire by itself. Right after this, in 1923, a group known as the Port Washington Taxpayers Association raised money and donated an air horn system which was installed on both the Protection and Flower Hill firehouses and was operated from Police Headquarters.

"In 1927 Atlantic purchased an American La France truckthat was state-of-the-art. It had pneumatic tires, right hand drive and a thirty-five foot ladder that was put up by hand." 8

Renovations

In 1929, after thirty-eight years, old Liberty Hall was suffering from years of activity, the current needs of the membership and the larger size of newer trucks. The old outside appearance of Liberty Hall was gone. The bell tower came down, replaced by a more modern looking structure for the time - a look that would remain for another sixty odd years. The old-timers, "remember renovating Liberty Hall for $7500 for materials, and the firemen did all the work ourselves. During this renovation, according to the story, the bell had to be moved. It seems the rope to lower it was not held tightly enough and the bell fell straight down two stories and went through what was then the wooden floor of the firehouse. They will also tell you that buried under the present floor there are parts to several Model T Fords." 9

Despite the fall, the bell remained in one piece. A monument was made for it and the bell was placed in front of the building, where it still resides, with an appropriate plaque dedicated to J.E. Lassig, the donor, and "Ma" Lawrence who rang it for so many fires.

In 1939, Atlantic purchased an American La France 75 foot aerial ladder. The truck was such a sensation that it was on display at the World's Fair in Flushing. "The truck which arrived last week from Elmira, New York, has a 75 foot aerial ladder, and it is one of the latest on the market. This 12 ton truck at a cost of over $16,000 is a marvel to look at and undoubtedly will attract much attention in the big parade."10

50th Anniversary

Atlantic celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 1939. "On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the Atlantic Hook and Ladder Company will celebrate on the evening of June 12 at the fire hall on Carlton Avenue. A full evening's program is planned. Assembly at the fire house will be at seven o'clock at which time a parade of members will be formed, headed by the Port Washington High School Band. Immediately after the parade, dinner will be served at the fire house. It will be an evening of robust entertainment." 11

Serving the Country

World War II brought many new problems with rationing, blackouts and losing members to the military. Through World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq many members of Atlantic have served and are serving. Two bronze plaques that are located by the entrance of the fire house honor fifty-five members who served during three of those wars. One lost his life: S/Sgt Joseph M. Caruso, US Army, lost his life at Luzon on April 10, 1945. There is a large stone memorial dedicated to him in front of the fire house.

Tragedy struck Atlantic for the second time. Daniel Cocks Henderson died in the line of duty on July 29, 1943, while responding to an alarm. He had been a member since October 4, 1928.

In 1963, Atlantic celebrated its 75th Anniversary with a dinner dance at the North Hempstead Country Club and in 1986 celebrated its 100th with a parade and block party.

Keeping Pace

building

An "annex" was constructed on Avenue A in 1964 not only to increase fire protection in the area but to provide a quicker response to fires from the large number of members living nearby. It was also taken into consideration that some of the newer fire trucks that were becoming available would no longer fit into the main firehouse. By the 1980s the main firehouse was suffering from old age and the need for a larger truck room to accommodate modern firefighting equipment. The bones of the original Liberty Hall, built in 1891, were still underneath the remodeling done in 1929. Almost a hundred years had passed and that original structure was having serious problems. The largest undertaking in Atlantic history started to take shape with the original building coming down and a new modern firehouse being dedicated in 1993. The Building Committee Chairman was Joseph Fico, Jr., and Co-Chairmen Charles D. Cella and Richard McCabe.

Teamwork

Throughout the years group activities have always been a positive force in promoting camaraderie and fostering teamwork - two important factors necessary to sustain close working relationships and trust around the firehouse and at fires. Atlantic has always encouraged and supported the members in team activities such as racing/drill teams, softball, bowling, football and basketball.

Drill Team

Atlantic has been participating in drill tournaments since as far back as 1889. In local competitions as well as in tournaments held across Long Island and throughout the State. During a local tournament in 1912 Atlantic placed first in "Hook & Ladder", first in the "Bucket Brigade", second in "Super Ladder", and third in the "Hose" contest. Although Atlantic was, by name, a ladder company they would consistently out perform companies whose primary function was working with hose and pumps. In 1932 Atlantic acquired a name for their drill team and for the next forty-two years they would be known as the "Rowdys." For many years each of the Companies had their own drill teams. However, as times changed and less manpower was available the Atlantic Rowdys joined forces with the "Road Runners" drill team in 1974. The Road Runners consisted of members from both Protection Engine Company and Flower Hill Hose Company. For the first time members of all three companies competed together as one team on the drill course.

Softball

Softball was always a major activity of Atlantic members. From all accounts it seems they always had a team. One of the great sources of entertainment in Port was the "Community Softball League" that played games at Main Street School on weeknights for a number of years. Each of the other Companies had teams as well. Stories are told that when there were games between the Companies it was no less than standing room only around the field. Atlantic always seemed to muster a quality bunch of players. In the early 1950s all three Companies formed a single Port Washington Fire Department team and organized the 8th Battalion League. The team won many battalion championships as well as seven New York State championships in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Over 120 Years Later

Today, Atlantic's modern fleet of firefighting apparatus includes:

Many reminders of the past still exist. The old trophies placed around the building, the pictures, the old red uniform shirts, the original Gleason & Bailey ladder truck in the Nassau County Museum, a dedicated piece of the old flag pole, the old bell, the original corner stone from 1891 placed strategically into the structure of the new firehouse, the dedication plaques to members and pictures of deceased members to name a few of the many things. As the saying goes - "Without the past there is no future."

Ex-Chief Edward Piccardo's quote from the 100th Anniversary has true meaning: "To those whose extra efforts and sacrifices promoted this company, and to those whose names are forgotten, never to be recorded for posterity, this history of the Atlantic Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 is dedicated."


1 For the most part information for this history was compiled by Frank Pavlak from the Company minutes of Atlantic; information contained in the original corner stone of Liberty Hall placed in 1891 and opened during renovations in July of 1929; Port Washington News; Roslyn News; Brooklyn Eagle; 100th Anniversary Journal compiled by Sheila McCarthy Dunnells and Ex-Chief Edward Piccardo; a history compiled in 1972 by Julie Stone; scrapbooks of Atlantic Ex-President and PWFD Fire Marshal Robert Cocks; scrapbook of Ex-Chief William Hewitt; the archives of Altantic Ex-Foreman William C. Leiber; and the archives of the Port Washington Public Library.

2 J.J. Floherty, Port Washington News, June 9, 1939

3 Historically, a problem always persists with the recording of Charter Members, officers and regular members. Charter Members have always been considered a "special" group of people who actually signed the incorporation papers, however, in reality, there were other members of the Company at the same time and all should be considered Charter Members. For one reason or another they could not be at the signing and have lost that "special" distinction.

4 Brooklyn Eagle, November 8, 1891

5 Brooklyn Eagle

6 Brooklyn Eagle

7 Port Washington News December 13, 1918

8 AHLCO 100th Anniversary Journal

9 AHLCO 100th Anniversary Journal

10 Port Washington News August 18, 1939

11 Port Washington News