The Bantam Fire Company has a long proud history of community protection and service to the inhabitants and visitors of the Borough of Bantam and surrounding towns, from its inception in 1916.
Many changes and improvements have evolved over the last 104 years. Our members continue to strive to provide the best life and property saving techniques and community service possible.
The first meeting establishing The Bantam Fire Company was held on February 16, 1916 at the home of Mr. Robert Currie, who was elected the First Chief of the newly formed company. Charter members include: Wilbur Anderson, George Burgoyne, Robert Currie, Charles Dempsey, Charles Deno Sr., Henry Edwards, Frank Frisbie, Charles Heath, Clifford Hotchkiss, Harry Kilborn, Robert Marvin, William Ravenscroft, Clarence Wheeler, Ernest White, George Woodcock, and Harry Wright. Several of these names have a present day legacy; their descendants currently serving in the company.
A shed renovation in 1917 was the first "firehouse" and a hand-drawn wagon equipped with buckets and ladders was the first apparatus for firefighting.
In the early 1900's Bantam had suffered several devistating fires destroying the Shear Shop Factory, Neville's Cotton Mill, Flynn and Doyle's Wagon Shop and a Grist Mill over a short period of time. Modern firefighting quickly became a ncessity.
In 1921, a new firehouse was built on Bantam's Main Street - now home to Arethusa, with an electric whistle to alert firefighters. In August of 1922, The Bantam Fire Company took delivery of an American La France Engine with a 60 - gallon per minute capability. By comparison, today, Bantam Fire Company's apparatus are capable of well over 1500 gallons per minute.
In July 1940, two Bantam Firemen attended "Fireman's School" in order to instrut the other members in current firefighting strategy and operations. Firefighting and emergency service provider training has changed dramatically over the past 100 years, incorporating safety standards and standardized knowledge for mandated certifications. Many of our members receive Firefighter 1 along with further certification in other areas of operation such as Pump Operation, Firefighter 2, Fire Officer Training, Swift Water Rescue and a myriad of other training.
In June 1941, a few members attended a First Aid Class. The first "Recognized Ambulance Attendant" class of 30 hours was held at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in 1968. The first EMT class was held in September of 1972, also at Chartlotte Hungerford Hospital, training the first wave of volunteer EMT's for The Bantam Fire Company Ambulance Service. Today the Basic EMT course is 160 hours of class training with mandatory refreshers and certifications to ensure all licensed EMT's are aware of the most current techniques and protocols.
In 1960 a need for emergency medical services was recognized. That year the first Bantam Ambulance was purchased; a 1947 Cadillac. Bantam's Ambulance service covered Morris, Bethlehem and parts of Litchfield as well as Bantam. Many senior members remember fondly the comfort and speed of the Cadillacs. Presently Bantam Fire Company supports two ambulances. Our EMS service remains 100% volunteer staffed, providing comfort and familiarity to our patients.
In 1992, The Bantam Fire Company improved its facility with the construction of a modern Firehouse on Doyle road in Bantam, to service the community for decades to come. This facility not only houses the apparatus and gear, but serves as an emergency shelter in times of disaster, a community gathering location and banquet facility. Today its home to our two main attack Engines 36 and 56, a 2500 gallon Tanker Truck 33, Heavy Rescue 38, a Four-Wheel Drive Brush Truck 34, two Ambulances 39 and 37, and our newest addition Utility 32, along with our two Marine units -Marine 1 and 2.
Dispatch and alert systems have evolved from an electric whistle on the first firehouse with a designated number of blasts signifying the area of town affected by a fire to a blackboard on the outside of the firehouse with the address of the fire. Later a telephone system and answering service alerted firefighters and ambulance attendants. Millie and George Shaughnessy of Litchfield Answering Service called members at home and coordinated emergencies. Many members remember having to stay near the phone in case Millie called them to duty. Now, while a siren is still used for fire calls, members carry portable pagers, radios, and get messages of location and nature of the call directly on their cell phones. The firehouse and apparatus have sophisticated radio and communication capabilities in addition to computers that document the fire and ambulance response. The Bantam Fire Company can communicate with mutual aid companies to speed the response to emergencies and our heavy rescue conains a satellite phone to enure reliable communication in the most serious disasters.
Fundraising to supplement the Litchfield Town Budget has been a constant factor in The Bantam Fire Company's time and energy. The first treasurers report in 1916 showed $1.00 in the treasury. The fire company members began organizing carnivals, balls, concerts, and minstrel shows to bolster the coffers. In 1927, the members voted to install two bowling alley lanes in the basement of the firehouse. In August 1930 the bowling alleys reported a monthy gross income of $275.00 through fees and rentals. Today fundraising remains a fundamental part of the company's operating budget. Income is supplemented by our popular roast beef dinners, donations, Christamas Tree Sales, and sponsorships. Our ambulance is sustained by billing for service in an effort to reduce the burden on the town's coffers and to ensure the rising costs of Emergency Medical Services will be sustained for the future.
The Bantam Fire Company has a proud history of outstanding achievement tested by fire, floods, ice and snow storms, and the devestaing Tornado of 1989. Sixteen men have served as Chief. Today the Bantam Fire Company has over 60 members, led by Chief Ryan Litwin, committed to serving our community whenever called upon.