History of the Cortlandville Fire Department

A Brief History of The Cortlandville Fire Department

The year is 1973. There is no fire department in the Town of Cortlandville. The Homer and McGraw Fire Departments are providing fire protection, under financial contract with the Town of Cortlandville. On September 20th, 1973 at 02:10 in the   morning a fire call went out in the Town of Cortlandville. A single family residence a 4 Glenwood Avenue, off Tompkins Street, had caught fire with initial reports of a mother, father and their children still inside. The village of Homer Fire Department was dispatched to the fire, and they responded from their station on Main Street in Homer. Approximately six minutes later units started arriving on the scene from the Homer Fire Department. Reports from the fire scene were that there were four residents inside still alive but unable to exit due to fire conditions. The residence had been renovated, and the traditional windows on the house had been replaced with basement casement windows. The firefighters were unable to gain entry. The City of Cortland Fire Department was then called to assist. Firefighters on the scene were hampered by low water pressure from an insufficient hydrant system and the lack of an immediate response. A tanker shuttle system was used to finally extinguish the fire. Four people died that day in the fire.

Taylor saw immediate need for change. Frank Taylor was the Town of Cortlandville Town Supervisor from 1966-1974 and he was  also the Chairman of the County Legislature from 1972-1973. Using his considerable political influence, and in a very short time, he persuaded the Homer Fire Department, led by Chief Charles Crosley, to agree to move two pieces of apparatus, a pumper and a tanker, into the Town of Cortlandville. As Town Supervisor, he had the Town commit to housing the fire apparatus. A building under construction adjacent to Town Hall, intended for use by the water department was used by the Homer Fire Department to house the apparatus. Hose Company #4 of the Homer Fire Department was formed, but without a formal name. Training of the members of Hose Company #4 started in October of 1973 and continued through December. Members of Hose Company #4 came from existing companies of the Cortland and Homer Fire Departments along with untrained, inexperienced residents of the Town of Cortlandville. On January 1, 1974 Hose Company #4 of the Homer Fire Department opened its doors for operation, from the building on Terrace road. Of great significance here is the cooperation of the Homer Fire Department and the Town of Cortlandville. The Town was a fire protection district and not a fire district, therefore the Town of Cortlandville could not own or operate fire equipment.

A few months of Hose Company #4’s initial operation, Frank Taylor died unexpectedly. Although he was never a member of a Fire Department, he was instrumental in the creation of fire service to the Town of Cortlandville. The members of Hose Company #4 felt the need and the duty to formally adopt the name of the “Frank K. Taylor Hose Company #4 of the Homer Fire Department”.

The Frank K. Taylor Hose Company of the Homer Fire Department stayed in existence until midnight on December 31, 1981, when the Company resigned from the Homer Fire Department. On January 1, 1982 the Cortlandville Fire Department began operation, and “the rest, they say, is history. The by-laws of the Cortlandville Fire Department still contain an introduction and opening statement about Frank Taylor, for without his efforts the Cortlandville Fire Department would not exist today.