In the early days of 1925, the area of southeast Irondequoit had already taken distinctive steps towards becoming a community in and of itself. Streets were laid out in anticipation of homes yet to be built and a small schoolhouse was in operation on the southwest corner of Empire Boulevard and Helendale Rd. This was the original Pardee School.
During this time, the rapidly growing Laurelton area relied on the Ridge Culver Fire Department and the City of Rochester Fire Department for fire protection. Distance and response time were becoming a growing concern. This prompted the Laurelton residents to hold a meeting at the Pardee schoolhouse on June 19, 1925. This was the start of the creation the Laurelton Fire District.
Enrollment was opened to the residents of the fire district. The first elections were held on November 2, 1925. G. Herbert Pardee was elected Laurelton’s first President of the Association. Arthur Lauterbach was elected Laurelton’s first Chief.
After more than a year of planning and preparation, an attorney and engineer were appointed on June 1, 1926 to form the Laurelton Fire District. A petition to form the Laurelton Fire District was accepted by the Board of Supervisors on December 30, 1926.
The task of raising money to form an organization fell to the Laurelton Volunteer Fire Association. The early activities consisted of social affairs, dances at Hebing’s Hotel, clambakes, moonlight excursions on Irondequoit Bay, motorboat races, card parties and carnivals.
The first Commissioners were elected on January 26, 1927. They were G. Herbert Pardee, George N. Sink, John Kane, M. Curt Snyder & Frank Gardner. In June of 1927, the district voters approved $70,000 for a firehouse and apparatus. For $10,000, the Commission purchased the old, two-room Pardee School, which had just been replaced by a new school at 500 Helendale Rd. Remodeling & construction began at once. On December 12, 1927, the new firehouse was dedicated. Since that time, the Laurelton Fire District has employed Career Firefighters to complement the Volunteer Firefighters. We started with 2 Career Firefighters. In 1958 we increased it to 3 and in 1962 a fourth man was hired which is where we stand today.
Today, the Laurelton Fire Department operates as three separate entities. They are the Laurelton Fire District, the Laurelton Volunteer Fire Department and the Laurelton Volunteer Fire Association. Through fire taxes received by the district residents, the District furnishes the apparatus & equipment and maintains the upkeep of the firehouse. The Department itself has no monies. The Department is the firefighters who respond to district emergencies. The Association is still responsible for raising monies, as in the past. These monies go to additional equipment for the Department and for activities and outings for the members and their families to enjoy. The firefighters of the Laurelton Fire Department put their lives on the line for no pay. The Association is here to show the district’s appreciation of the firefighter’s hard volunteer work by throwing clambakes, banquets and Amerks outings among other things.
It is now time to add another chapter to our history. On October 1, 2004, we moved into our new firehouse. The old firehouse served us well for 75+ years, but it was showing it’s age. We moved out of the old building on October 31, 2003 & it was razed in early December 2003. We look forward to a new era at Laurelton.
If you live in the Laurelton Fire District and would like to be a part of this great history (and our future), click here to be contacted by our Chief.
2020 – A YEAR OF CHANGE
From the very beginning of Laurelton’s existence, there was always some sort of “paid” coverage at the department. We did not have a firefighter on duty 24 hours a day like we do now, but there was always some part-time coverage to complement the volunteer force. Laurelton began 24 hour coverage in the early 1950’s.
The year 2020 brought about a major change to that philosophy. On January 2, 2020, the Laurelton Fire District hired 4 additional firefighters. There are now two career firefighters on every shift. That means that the residents of the fire district will now get at least two firefighters immediately when they have an emergency call. We have always had a stellar crew of volunteer firefighters at Laurelton, but many of these quality men and women are advancing in age and cannot perform to the level they once could and to the standard of service our residents deserve. We are extremely fortunate that some new, quality, younger volunteers are joining Laurelton and we are excited for the energy they bring. Unfortunately, we are not adding enough new volunteers to off-set the number of senior volunteers that we have. While the knowledge these senior members bring to the younger volunteers is invaluable, we need more new members to pass along this knowledge to. This was one of two reasons that led us to the decision to hire the extra firefighter per shift. The second reason has to do to the volatile times we live in. We thought it was a safety issue having only one career firefighter answering calls and being alone until any of our volunteers arrived at the scene. That second career firefighter now adds a new level of safety to the answering crew.
Another change in 2020 was the addition of career officers to the Laurelton ranks. When the new career firefighters were hired, the four current career firefighters were promoted to Lieutenant. Laurelton never had career officers prior to 2020.