In February 1956 a group of citizens banded together to form a second fire department in the Town of Salem. The first fire department was located on the west side of town. It was felt by the residents on the eastern side of town that there was a need for a second fire department due to the length of time it takes to get from one side of town to the other in the case of a fire or other emergency.
On February 20, 1956, the GARDNER LAKE VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY was formed and held their first organizational meeting in Congdon’s garage. They had neither a fire truck or a place to house a fire truck. Nevertheless, at that very first meeting they elected a Chief, 1st Assistant Chief, 2nd Assistant Chief, Secretary, and Treasurer. They also voted on the official name of the company and to purchase a fire truck for $1,500. That same evening, they appointed a Building Committee to make plans to build a firehouse to house this first fire truck.
TALL OAKS FROM LITTLE ACORNS GROW. - Ephraim H. Farrar
From a desire to safeguard their community and protect their loved ones a dream was born in the hearts of a group of men. Today, with the dedication of the Gardner Lake Fire House, that dream becomes a reality. A reality that could never have been realized without a vast amount of assistance and encouragement from the people of our community and the neighboring area.
We, the members of the Gardner Lake Volunteer Fire Company are sincerely grateful and deeply appreciative for the assistance that has been given us. Without many hours of self-sacrifice on the part of many people, we could not have succeeded.
So, we take this opportunity to express to each and every one of you our deepest and most heartfelt thanks.
Today, we not only dedicate the Gardner Lake Fire House, but each member of the Volunteer Fire Company pledges himself to the continual protection of the lives and property of our citizens.
May we with the help of God be always successful in our endeavor.
LETS GET TO WORK
Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Snarski donated the land on which the firehouse was to be built, and with $2,000 from the town, they were on their way to purchasing the first fire truck and breaking ground for the firehouse. In March of 1956, ground was broken for the fire house. With much volunteer work by the founding fathers, on January 3, 1957, 11 months after the organizational meeting, the first company meeting was held in the new firehouse. The fire house consisted of two apparatus bays and a large recreation hall. Dances were held each week in the new hall. Proceeds were used to pay off the mortgage that had been taken out for the building. The $10,000 mortgage was paid off in four years and two months. In November 1960, the Gardner Lake Volunteer Fire Company was debt free and in full operation!
DETERMINATION & EXPANSION
In December 1960, the Company purchased an ambulance. A tanker holding 1500 gallons of water was added to the department in 1961. The founders of the Gardner Lake Volunteer Fire Company were a group of dedicated and determined individuals who never lost sight of the reason for their existence; the protection and preservation of the life and property of the citizens of Salem.
MAINTAINING A LEGACY
It is the dedication and determination of our founding fathers that has guided us through the last half century of existence and it is that same dedication and determination of our current membership that will serve us well into the future.