New Hartford Volunteer Fire Department
New Hartford, Connecticut
Fire Districts can be established in one of two ways. The first is by State Statute. The details are covered in Chapter 105, and begin in Section 7-324 of the Connecticut Statutes. The second way, and the way our District was established is by Special Act of the Connecticut General Assembly. It turns out that our department is 183-years old!
On May 1832 the Connecticut General Assembly passed a “Resolve Authorizing the New Hartford Fire Engine Company”. On July 4, 1832 Harry Coles, Tertius Wadsworth and George O. Kellogg were authorized to meet at the dwelling house of Harry Coles in New Hartford. They were to enlist a fire engine company by the name of “The New Hartford Fire Engine Company” to consist of sixteen persons to be taken from the ranks of the militia. All had to live within ¾ of a mile from the Cowles’ dwelling house. They were given the power to:
• Fill all vacancies that may happen by voluntary enlistments
• Have the power to appoint their officers.
• Make all necessary Bylaws and regulations for their own government
• Impose any fine or penalty for the breach of such Bylaws not exceeding five dollars for any one offense.
The company shall be entitled to all the powers and privileges which are by law granted to fire engine companies in this state.
On April 24, 1889 the Connecticut General Assembly passed a Special Act “Incorporating the New Hartford Fire Association”. This Act established the boundaries of the area that the Fire Association protected. They were given the following abilities:
• Sue and be sued.
• Plead and be impleaded.
In due course of law and concerning their rights, duties and interests and in any of their legal meetings they have the power to:
• Form fire companies.
• Appoint or cause to be appointed by the members thereof, officers to command the same
• To purchase land and erect buildings thereon for engine or hose houses, or to lease land and buildings for the aforesaid purposes, and to keep the same in repair and to lay pipes and set hydrants and to make all necessary provisions for a supply of water for fire purposes.
• To furnish all necessary fire apparatus and to keep the same in repair.
• To defray the common expenses of such fire companies as they may organize.
• To make Bylaws for the regulation and government of the fire companies and of the fire association.
• For the proper regulation and government of the people when called into service on occasions of fire
• Fix the signals to be given in cases of alarm.
• Reward and encourage such persons as shall perform distinguished services.
• Punish by fines, such as shall be idle and refractory.
• Compelling the owners of buildings to procure and maintain ladders for the use upon the same.
• For the regulation and control of deposits of ashes
• For ordering the discontinuing of stove-pipes, fire-places, fire-boards, chimneys and all other things that shall be considered defective or unsafe.
• Have the power to erect lamp-posts and furnish lamps and to light the streets within the limits of said association, and to make Bylaws for the furnishing, regulation and management of such lights.
• To assess and tax the owners of buildings and other property within said limits for the purposes aforesaid at the just and proper value of such property and the degree in which such property is exposed to fire.
• To collect the taxes the taxes laid on said assessments.
• To make Bylaws in relation thereto, and in general for the effectual attainment of the object of their incorporation, all said Bylaws subject, however, to be repealed by the court of common pleas of Litchfield county, if on complaint of any person or persons they shall in any case be found to be arbitrary or unjust.
The first meeting was to be held after 5-days’ notice, posted in three public places within the protection limits. Said meeting shall have power to appoint a moderator, and elect five directors and a secretary and treasurer and such other officers and committees as they may deem proper to hold office until the next annual meeting and until others are chosen in their stead. The annual meeting was to be held on the first Monday of May of each year, or on such other day as they may appoint when they shall have the power to appoint all officers and to transact other business to them appertaining, with power of adjournment.
Special meetings may be called by the secretary at any time when the business of the association requires it, or such meetings may be called by notice signed by not less than three of the directors of said association. Such notice shall be posted in three public places within said limits at least five days before such meeting.
The collector and treasurer shall be required to give such bonds as the Bylaws may determine and to the approval of the directors.
The directors of said fire association shall have full power and authority to borrow money for the use of said association and upon its credit as they shall deem necessary and to drew their orders on its treasurer therefore, but the amount of indebtedness so incurred shall not at any time exceed the sum of six thousand dollars.
All the inhabitants residing within said limits of lawful age, and liable to assessment under the provisions of the first section of this act, shall be voters in said corporation.
This last paragraph was amended on June 14, 1893 when the Connecticut General Assembly approved a resolution titled “Amending the Charter of the New Hartford Fire Association.” They said that “All the legal voters (italics are mine) residing within said limits and liable to assessment under the provisions of the first section of this act, shall be voters in said corporation.
On December 19, 1893 at 8:00 PM the New Hartford Fire District was formed. Frederick A. Jewell was chosen and appointed chairman. L.A. Owen was the clerk at this meeting. The resolution was proposed by Mr. Robert R. Smith. The District’s boundaries were established. A clerk, a treasurer and a collector were appointed, the powers and duties of whom shall be as specified in the herewithfore mentioned Act of the General Assembly. Three commissioners were also appointed.
Today, the town has three separate fire districts. Ours is the New Hartford Village Fire District and covers the entire first voting district. There is the South End Fire District. They cover the second voting district. Finally there is the Pine Meadow Fire District. They have coverage of approximately one square mile in the Pine Meadow section of town. Each district & department is separate from each other. Each district sets its own mill rate and collects their own fire tax to underwrite operations. We all cooperate with providing mutual aid and frequently train together.