By: Bill Pindle
Historian and Member
The date was January 30, 1935 Ed Pindle and Leroy “Cub” Sternberg were fishing on Oneida Lake the temperature was –10 F. At around 11:00 am in the morning the church bell started to ring. This was the only way the village had to signal that there was a fire. Ed and Cub quickly left the Lake and came to the village. They could see that the hotel in the center of town was on fire. This hotel was occupied by Toots Knowles and was also known as the Slingerland House.With no fire department there was little anyone could do so help was summoned from Chittenango, Minoa, Cicero, and East Syracuse Fire Departments. Chittenango and Minoa drafted water from the bridge at Chittenango creek East Syracuse and Cicero also joined to fight the fire. The fire started in the automotive shop of this building. The West End of the hotel was completely burned off leaving only the east part of the building, which is now part of the Mid-Lake plaza owned by Don Sattler. During the fire, Lula ValAlstine and Hanky Pindle served coffee and sandwiches in the store across the street owned by Lula. This store originally stood on the corner of North Road and Route 31. There were many spectators and most watched from the west side of the bridge as the road was filled with fire engines and hoses.Less than a month later, on February 23, the first meeting of the Bridgeport Fire Department was held in Frank Pindles garage which is now Larry’s Body Shop (owner: Larry Pindle). The meeting was held in the front portion of the present cinderblock building. According to Tom Sheldon who was a young boy at the time and whom attended the meeting those present were Ro Cook, Harry Sheldon, Ed Pindle, Jack Myers, Rev. Baden Mudge, Richard Brown and Frank Pindle. Tom remembers that wooden planks were put on cinder blocks for the men to sit on. At this meeting it was agreed that this group of men would attend the town meeting in Chittenango and request some fire protection for Bridgeport. The town agreed that if Bridgeport would construct a building, the town would furnish the first pumper. The building was constructed with materials hauled to Bridgeport from the old Dairymens League building in Kirkville. The used blocks were cleaned and thus a building was started. A gentleman did the masonry work by the name of George Bradley. Young boys hauled water from Chittenango Creek in barrels so the cement could be mixed. Jay Nichols and Ed Pindle were the head carpenters and the building was completed. The new Federal 500 gal. Per minute pumper was delivered on February 29, 1936 the cost was $3,000 plus $600 for 2000 ft of 2 ½ inch hose and now Bridgeport had it’s own Fire Department. The first Chief was Harry Sheldon and the first president was Ro Cook. Our first fire call was on March 1,1936 to a Lakeport cottage fire. Before the SouthBay Fire Department was organized Bridgeport covered all along Lakeshore Road in the Town of Cicero where we met up with the Cicero Fire Department. We also covered all of Town of Cicero to Eastwood Road. Bob Tubbert and Ernie Bailey were very instrumental in getting the fire department incorporated in 1949. Bob Tubbert, Ernie Bailey, and Dan Snyder all ran the field days at different times. The field days were originally called Old Home Days and were held at Damons Point at one time. They usually held the Old Home Days on the 4th of July. Today the field days are held on Labor Day Weekend. The Ambulance Service was started in the early 50s and at one time the Department had two Ambulances. The Community was served very well by this service. In 1988 the Ambulance was replaced with a Medical Rescue Vehicle. Today the Medical Rescue Squad is with out a doubt one of the best unpaid professional units in central New York. In 1960 Station #2 was built in Lakeport. With Engine 4 stationed there and a crew of highly trained individuals, this gives the district better coverage and a faster response time. We can boast to having the best equipment that is available today in the fire service. We have three class-A type pumpers with a 1,250 gal. Per minute pumping capacity. Each pumper is equipped to the utmost. We also have a heavy rescue, Medical Rescue and two Squads. These vehicles are also fully equipped. We have three Chiefs Cars that are essential for use as the command center during emergency situations. Station #2 is home to two 1949 Mack Pumpers that are fully restored and used only for parades.I can’t help but mention that I rode to my first fire on Bridgeport’s original Mack. I was only 7 years old at the time, the fire was at Damons point and Ed Pindle (my uncle) was driving. Boy did I catch hell.