Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department
The Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department’s carnival returns June 22-25, after a two-year hiatus, just in time for Ridgefielders to celebrate the department’s 125th anniversary.
And a carnival is not all that’s in store.
The volunteers are planning a grand parade down Main Street, with up to 50 fire departments competing for awards on Friday, June 24, starting at 6:30. The carnival, which will be open evenings at East Ridge Middle School, will end with a bang on Saturday night, in the form of a fireworks display on East Ridge. Details of the carnival, parade and fireworks will be posted on the RVFD Facebook page.
The fire department was established in 1897, soon after Ridgefield suffered a devastating fire, which destroyed most of the business area along Main Street’s east side. Hampered by lack of water and equipment, the townspeople who rushed to the scene were helpless to extinguish the fire. Finally, after one building was dynamited and another partially torn down, the blaze was contained. Ten buildings, including Town Hall, were destroyed.
In February 1897, the Ridgefield Fire Department, with 70 members, was formed and elected Charles S. Nash its first chief. Former Governor Phineas C. Lounsbury donated two pieces of apparatus: a chemical engine truck and a hook and ladder truck with a pump. (Both could be drawn by men or by teams of horses.) A special town meeting in early 1897 approved making space in the new, brick Town Hall to house the fire-fighting equipment.
A water system was the next step and the Ridgefield Water Supply Company soon brought a reliable water source to the village.
In 1907, the town voted to build a firehouse on Catoonah Street and in 1968 added a station in Ridgebury. In 2022, the combined department of 34 career firefighters and 57 volunteers is led by Chief Jerry Myers.