The following article appeared in the August 10, 1931, Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 

Borough's Lone Vamp Group in Gerritsen 

Volunteer Firefighters, Organized in 1920 with Hand Apparatus, Now Own the Motor Vehicles and Cooperate with City Department

When Gerritsen Beach was still a waste of sand with a few summer bungalows scattered over its white surface, a fire broke out in Abby court. The building burnt to the ground.

The regular fire apparatus of the city could not reached the beach in time to extinguish the blaze and so the residents called a mass meeting. Out of it the only volunteer fire department in Brooklyn was organized.

That was in 1920. The apparatus was hand drawn and consisted of pails and chemicals.

Now the beach has two motor vehicles, chemical and hose trucks, which serve a new and more heavily populated community.

When the first-hand vehicle was placed in service at the beach the fire alarm system consisted of several bells and metal alarms. Today the fire alarm system of the city warns the volunteers of threatening blazes.

One Entrance

According to deputy chief Harry Mulvehill, the beach has only one entrance with the result that fire apparatus located more than a mile away at Avenue U cannot reach the scene of the blaze as quickly as the volunteers. There are more than 2500 frame buildings at the beach with 15,000 persons living within them, Mulvehill pointed out.

Since the organization of the department no fire has been successful in spreading further than the point of origin.

While several members of the company have been injured at fires only one was severely burned. E. B. Woods, one of the officers of the department, was confined in a hospital for more than 18 months as a result of a blaze. He is again on duty as active as ever.

The Company has five chiefs and three honorary chiefs. John Mack, E. B. Woods, Peter Mitchell, Alexander Mackie and Edward Coamey are the chiefs. Fire Commissioner John J. Dorman, John Savarese and William H. Todd are the honorary members of the department.

Coamey is the active chief of the Company. The deputy chiefs are Mulvehill, Harry Bloodgood, Jr., and Al Turner. The Secretary of the company is William P. Hayes. 

Mulvehill, a cousin of former Gov. Al Smith, is one of the most active members of the department. During the World War he was head of a fire auxiliary in Bay Ridge attached to Engine 241, where he had been a buff. He has an extensive library on firefighting.

(Courtesy Andrea Eldred)


Last changed: July 27, 2003


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