Our Proud History
The Brewer Fire Engine Company No. 1 has a long and proud history. It is an organization with a rich heritage of dedication, unselfish sacrifice, and inspired human action that has accumulated over a period of more than 125 years. Each member of the Brewer Fire Engine Company No. 1 inherits the traditions of the past and, in part, the actions of each and every member will shape the future of the Fire Company. The long and noble tradition of rendering service in the time of need has established this heritage of which each member can be justly proud.
The long and rich history of the Brewer Fire Engine Company No. 1 began on February 16, 1877. Due to the occurrence of several serious fires in the small but growing Monsey community, 24 residents met in Levi Sherwood’s store for the purpose of forming a “company to protect our community from the ravages of fire”. H. Sherwood was selected to serve as Foreman, the title for the job now known as Fire Chief. The pioneer members of the Fire Company began the difficult task of organizing the Fire Company and obtaining the equipment needed to fight fires. Mr. Abraham Brewer became a member of the new Fire Company and provided many of the initial financial and other resources necessary to begin operating as a firefighting force. The fire company was named Brewer Fire Engine Company No. 1 in honor of Mr. Brewer.
On October 7, 1902, the residents of Monsey petitioned the Rockland County Board of Supervisors to form the Monsey Fire District. By forming a Fire District, the residents of Monsey would elect 5 Fire Commissioners who would oversee the fire protection needs of the community.
The Fire Commissioners contracted with the Brewer Fire Engine Company No. 1, which owned the fire station and the fire trucks, to provide fire protection services for the Monsey Fire District.
Back in 1877, the means of fighting fires and the equipment used were much different than today. In the late 1800s, horses pulled hand pumpers that could power one small hoseline with barely enough water to reach most fires. Today we utilize pumpers driven by 450 horsepower diesel engines capable of pumping more than 2000 gallons of water onto a fire every minute! As the equipment and methods used to combat fires have grown more complex, the method of organization used to manage and administer the fire protection of the community has also become more complex. Up until the 1950s, the members of the Brewer Fire Engine Company No. 1 owned all of the fire trucks and equipment needed to fight fires. The Fire Company members, assisted by the members of the Ladies Auxiliary, would hold cake sales, carnivals, chicken dinners, and similar events in order to raise the money needed to buy the fire trucks and equipment. This method of running the fire company worked well until the Monsey community began a period of extremely rapid growth. Monsey, along with the rest of Rockland County, quickly grew from a rural farming community to a busy suburban community with new housing developments, shopping centers, office buildings, and factories built almost overnight.
In the late 1950s, the Fire Company members realized that more than two fire trucks were needed to protect our rapidly growing community. The cost of these needed fire trucks also began to increase. On February 27, 1958 a special meeting of the Brewer Fire Engine Company No. 1 was held during which the members voted to sell the fire trucks to the Monsey Fire District for the sum of $1.00 plus an annual dinner. The Monsey Fire District Fire Commissioners would be able to budget and plan for the needed fire trucks and equipment and collect tax money to fund these needs. The five Fire Commissioners are responsible for every penny of tax money collected. The Commissioners also establish policies and administrative procedures related to firefighter health and safety, operation of fire apparatus, and other areas of concern. A public election is held each year to elect one Fire Commissioner who serves a five-year term.
Of course, fire trucks alone cannot extinguish fires. Knowledgeable and skilled firefighters must drive and operate these trucks, direct hoselines, search for trapped occupants, and perform the other tasks associated with firefighting. The Brewer Fire Engine Company No. 1 is the organization that provides the personnel needed for this vital task. The Brewer Fire Engine Company No. 1 continues to own and maintain the firehouse. Fundraising activities, along with a nominal rental fee paid by the Monsey Fire District, provide the resources needed to maintain the firehouse. A President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and other administrative officers are elected annually by the fire company members. These administrative officers, known as the Board of Directors, are responsible for the daily management of the Fire Company.
Management of the firefighting, rescue, and other emergency response operations of the Brewer Fire Engine Company No. 1 is directed by the Fire Chief. The Fire Chief, along with the Assistant Chief, Second Assistant Chief, Captain, Lieutenant, and the First, Second, and Third Engineers are also elected annually by the Fire Company members. These are the Line Officers. Firefighters choosing to become Line Officers must complete many New York State, Rockland County, and other fire training courses in order to be elected to a Line Officer position.
The Fire Company operates under various State Laws and under its own by-laws. These by-laws provide rules and regulations that specifically state the duties and responsibilities of the officers and other firefighters. Other written guidelines, known as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), describe more specific operational practices such as the order in which the fire trucks will respond to certain types of alarms. All firefighters should become thoroughly familiar with the by-laws, SOPs, and other rules and regulations governing the operation of the Brewer Fire Engine Company No. 1 and the Monsey Fire District.