The Gordon Heights Fire Department


Photo from the collection of Russell Wilson.


In the words of Tyrell Wilson, the second president of the Civic Association, "The Gordon Heights Progressive Association was the parent body of the Gordon Heights Fire Department and Gordon Heights Fire District. It gave the Gordon Heights Fire Department absolute use of the present building and grounds It bought the first fire truck and, in 1948, there was an organized fire department."

For many years there was no fire department in the area for Gordon Heights. Outside areas, which had a department, were under no obligation to come and put out fires in this community. The burning down of the first church building convinced the community even more of its need for fire protection.

The Civic Association worked hard toward a fire department in order to resolve their problem. The men were offered and accepted training from the Medford Fire Department. Later, the Gordon Heights Fire Department was incorporated. When the firehouse became too small for the fire department and the Civic Association, the residents moved toward a fire district whereby taxes would be levied and financial assistance given for the expansion of the department. Petitions were signed by residents and taken to the Town Board. The first commissioners were selected until an election could take place in one year. These men were appointed from 1952-53.

The first ambulance was bought by the Civic Association and the residents financially supported other things needed that the tax money did not cover. Even though some areas of the community were not in the fire district, the Gordon Heights Fire Department would come to the "no man's land" whenever needed.

It is most significant that these pioneers of the Gordon Heights community not only established the first black fire department and fire district in New York State, but did it out of a need to survive and protect their life investment- their community.
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