Sumpwams Hose Company No. 2




The Sumpwams Hose Company No. 2 was organized November 1895.  The origin of its name cannot be clearly established, but as this hose company was formed to provide a more prompt response to the so-called “Downtown Area,” it could very well have taken its name from the Sumpwams Creek, which borders the East end of the Village.

Many prominent men of the Village of Babylon, among them Dr. William H. Deale, Gustave Fishel, Charles Siegel, W. H. Terry, J.C. Robbins, and Richard Higbie banded together to give birth to this new fire company.

The first piece of apparatus to be used by this company was the old Phoenix Jumper, a hand drawn rig, and this was kept in the rear of the old Fishel office building on Montauk Highway.  The rig continued to be located there until 1905, when Mr. Fishel refused to leave the gate unlocked any longer.  As this created a problem, new quarters were located in the Seaman building on the west side of Fire Island Avenue, which was rented for five dollars a month.  This was quite an expenditure for those times.  At about the turn of the century, a four-wheel hose wagon was also obtained, which started the beginning of the Sumpwams as a two-truck company.

The Sumpwams Hose Company, when organized, made it clear that they would not attend any tournaments as they were in service to protect the business section of the Village of Babylon and this was their prime objective.

“Pulling on the Ropes,” a term used when fire apparatus was hand drawn, took heroic efforts and a good deal of endurance.  The Sumpwams Hose earned the name of the “Never-Sweats,” after an episode in which the entire twenty-man company was dispatched to the hospital due to “exhaustion and fatigue” after pulling their hand drawn apparatus for a distance of about 100 yards.  After a time, however, they mastered the task and did so with distinction.

After much discussion and many meetings over pulling the apparatus to fires by hand or horses, the Babylon Village Board in 1915, authorized and granted a sum of fifteen hundred dollars for the purchase of the first piece of motorized apparatus.  This was a definite boom to the science of fire-fighting and a giant step forward.  However, tragedy befell when in 1916 the apparatus was struck and destroyed by Train #47 of the Long Island Railroad.  This fatal accident resulted in the deaths of two firemen, Captain John Higbie and Chief Leon Pettit.  This motorized rig was replaced by the LI Railroad Co.

The Sumpwams Hose Company progressed and in 1924 an American La France 600 gallon-per-minute pumper was purchased.  In 1939 a Mack 250 GPM pumper was purchased.  In 1948 an American La France 750 GPM pumper was purchased.  Being a two-engine company since the turn of the century, the Sumpwams Hose Company at the time maintained and operated two first line pieces of equipment.  As the years went by, the Sumpwams Hose Company became a modern fire fighting contingent, equipped with the latest tools to combat the perils of fire.  Among them were: the latest type of Navy Fog nozzles, later on the latest in variable fog nozzles, a bayonet nozzle, airplane crash axe, Cooper Hose Jackets, fog applicators, and a full line of equipment for the application of foam and light water.

In June of 1963 The Village of Babylon let out bids for a new truck for the Sumpwams Hose Company.  This new piece of equipment, a 1000 GPM pumper was delivered in March of 1964.  This, together with the 1948 American La France, comprised the apparatus of the Sumpwams Hose Company.  In 1987 a new Pierce Lance 1250 GPM pumper was delivered and the 1964 Mack was then retired.  In 1994 the 1948 American La France was retired and purchased by the company as a parade piece (unit 1-2-2A.)  Many fundraisers were held and the truck was completely restored by the membership to it’s original condition.

The complement of the company normally consists of thirty active members along with life members and senior members.  It is to be further noted, that down through the years, the company has produced many noteworthy Chief officers, namely: Charles Pfeifle (1932 - 1933), Stuart Gifford (1946 - 1947), John Burt (1956 - 1957), E. Clayton Smith (1966 - 1967), Martin H. Albert (1974 - 1976), Donald L. Steele (1986 - 1988), Richard Meier (1992 - 1994), Jeffrey C. Weber (2004 - 2006), and Richard W. Krollage (2006 - 2008). 

Many members of the Sumpwams Hose Company are also very active in other Firematic Organizations and have served with distinction.  The organizations include the Town of Babylon Firemen’s Association, Town of Babylon, Suffolk County, and New York State Chiefs Associations, and Vocational Education Extension Board.

On November 4th 1995 Sumpwams Hose Company celebrated it’s 100th anniversary at a dinner dance held at LaGrange Inn in West Islip, making it the third Company of the Babylon Fire Department to reach this milestone.