Bicentennial Snapshot No.36: Centennial Celebration of North Greece and Ridge Road Fire District

North Greece 100 Years Service Patch
North Greece 100 Years Service Patch
Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District 100 years
Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District 100 years
Greece Bicentennial 200

Today we are spotlighting the two Greece fire districts that are celebrating their centennial years and they are the North Greece Fire Department and the Greece Ridge/Ridge Road Fire District

Bucket Brigade from Monroe Historical Society

As a rural agricultural community in the 1800s, there was no formal fire brigade or fire department in Greece. Fires were common “in an era when most buildings were made of wood, when candles and fuel lamps provided lighting, and when wood stoves were used for cooking.” Bucket brigades fought fires. Water was taken from whatever source was nearby—streams, lakes, ponds, or cisterns—and a line of men formed to pass the buckets from one man to the next until it reached the fire. It was an ineffective way to fight a fire.

In 1890, John Fetzner of Fetzner Carriage shop and Peter Knipper, owner of the Falls Hotel, (we told you about them in Snapshot 16), imported a chemical fire wagon from France. They stored the fire wagon in a shed on the hotel property next door to Fetzner’s carriage shop making it readily available to serve them and their neighbors. The apparatus was on a wheeled carriage base and had to be pulled by volunteers on foot. A chemical reaction between sulfuric acid and a premixture of sodium bicarbonate in one tank propelled water in the other tank through a hose; it could create a stream of water up to 30 feet high. This is the oldest piece of fire equipment in Greece, and one of the oldest in Monroe County. It is on display in our museum. You can read the full interview on how Society acquired the fire wagon from Bud Steeb by Kay Pollok.

Journey of the Fetzner Knipper Fire Wagon Story an Interview with Bud Steeb
Fetzner-Knipper fire wagon photo by Bill Sauers
Clip 3: Call for Service Map from Future of the Fire Service in Greece Evaluating the Existing Conditions in and Considering Options in the Town of Greece, June, 2020, prepared for: Barnard Fire District, Lake Shore Fire District, North Greece Fire District and Ridge Road Fire District by the Center for Governmental Research
Call for Service Map from Future of the Fire Service in Greece Evaluating the Existing Conditions in and Considering Options in the Town of Greece, June 2020, prepared for Barnard Fire District, Lake Shore Fire District, North Greece Fire District, and Ridge Road Fire District by the Center for Governmental Research

The Town of Greece does not have a centralized fire department; there’s no GFD on the back of our firefighters’ turnout coats. Rather the town is served by four separate fire districts: North Greece, Ridge Road (once called Greece Ridge), Barnard, and Lakeshore. North Greece and Ridge Road (once called Greece Ridge) have three stations, Lakeshore had three stations but decommissioned the station near in Braddock Bay Heights area, and Barnard has only one, which makes nine total in the town. Some calls may receive mutual aid from other fire districts they are Hilton, Spencerport/Odgen Fire, Gates Fire, and the City of Rochester, depending on the type of assistance that is needed.

North Greece Fire District

North Greece 100 Years Service Patch
North Greece 100 Years Service Patch

Founded June 1922

In June 1922 the Carriage and Blacksmith shop once owned by Lewis Combs became North Greece Fire District's first firehouse and the town’s first fire station and their…

North Greece Fire Station, 1926
North Greece fire department testing Pierce Arrow truck, circa 1928, from the Office of the Town Historian

…Pierce-Arrow truck was the first motorized fire truck in the Town of Greece. This is their centennial anniversary.

In 1958, North Greece added a second Station on Latta Rd at Mt. Read Boulevard. Up until the mid-1980s, the fire district had an all-volunteer force.

Dedication ad from the Greece Press, July 24, 1958
Station 1, the 1960s, the Office of the Town Historian

The North Greece Fire District Headquarters were moved from Station 1 at North Greece and Latta to Station 2 at Latta and Mount Read in 1970.

In 1983, a third station was opened on English Road.

North Greece Fire District Station 3
North Greece Fire District Station 1 North Greece and Latta Roads, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

Encompassing more than 27 miles, today, the North Greece Fire District serves the largest geographic area in the town and a population of about 41,000. As of January 2020, the district had 45 career firefighters and 33 volunteers.

Between 2016 and 2018 they responded to an average of 3,539 calls per year; 62 percent were EMS-related. [1]

Fire at Harris Dairy Farm, English Road, 1938, from the Office of the Town Historian
North Greece Fire District Headquarters, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

In 2019, the Insurance Services Office (ISO) rated the North Greece Fire District at a 2 which places it in the top 3% of fire departments in New York State.

Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District

Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District 100 years
Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District 100 years

August 3, 1922

The Greece Ridge Fire Department, now Ridge Road Fire District, was established on August 3, 1922. It was first located at 2550 Ridge Road West, the northwest corner of Long Pond Road and Ridge Road. The building was shared with three businesses on the upper floor: H. A. Herrick Civil Engineer and Land Surveyor, J.V. Gallagher Realtor Real Estate Insurance, and A.R. Koerner Contractor Builder. At the back of the site was Buchman’s Dairy then a Walgreens and now an Orvilles Appliance store.

First Greece-Ridge Fire Station at 2550 Ridge Road West, circa 1924, courtesy of Bill Sauers
RRFD fighting a fire at Fetzner’s Garage, 1969, from ridgefire.org

By the way, Peter Knipper and John Fetzner also helped found this department.

Like North Greece, the Ridge Road Fire District is celebrating its centennial.

Long Pond Road sign, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers
Long Pond Road sign, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers
Helmet of A.R. Koerner - 2015.03.01
Helmet of A.R. Koerner - 2015.03.01

In 1922, A. R. Koerner besides being a building contractor became the first Fire Chief of the Greece Ridge Fire Department (Ridge Road Fire District). He served as Chief from 1922 to 1939, encompassing three different town administrations: Frank J. Mitchell from 1922-1927, William F. Schmitt from 1928 - 1933, and finally Gordon A. Howe from 1934-1939. Gordon A Howe was the Town Supervisor from 1934 to 1960. A.R. Koerner's chief helmet was received into our collection in 2015 and has been on display since with the chemical fire wagon that is pictured at the beginning of this snapshot.

Like North Greece, Greece Ridge started with a Pierce-Arrow fire truck which was built in Buffalo, NY.

1st motorized apparatus 1924 Pierce Arrow pumper
1st motorized apparatus 1924 Pierce Arrow pumper
Amelia & Frank Siebert, courtesy Kathy Gray via Facebook

In 1930 Frank Siebert, a co-founder, and volunteer with the department became the district’s first paid firefighter. The firehouse was remodeled and included an apartment for Siebert and his wife and children.

Amelia & Frank Siebert (Kathy's Great-Grandparents) with Jack - Kathy Gray's Father, courtesy Kathy Gray via Facebook
Firefighters are pictured here in front of the 1922 Pierce Arrow pumper, celebrating their 3rd Annual Field Day. The Greece Ridge Fire Department was incorporated on August 3, 1922. The first firehouse opened in 1924 on the corner of Ridge Road and Long Pond Road. Office of the Town Historian.

He was on duty 24 hours a day, with about 8 hours off per week. He was assistant chief and later chief commanding volunteer operations during fires.  He and his wife continued to reside at that apartment above the station at least until 1953 and most likely until his retirement in 1959 at the age of 79. Frank and A.R. Koerner are in this picture to the left but without notes, on this picture, we are not sure who is all in this picture.

As the population of Greece soared, so did the demands on the department. A new firehouse was opened in 1962 at 1299 Long Pond Road. It is the district’s Headquarters. Today the district serves a population of 27,000 in an area of just under 14 square miles.

Ridge Road Fire Station, 1299 Long Pond Road, 1967, courtesy Bill Sauers
Stoneridge Station, 2020, photo by Bill Sauers

The Stoneridge Station (Station #2) was opened in 1971 and was renovated in 2001, while

Headquarters of Ridge Road Fire District
third district station at 2300 Ridgeway Avenue opened in 2007 - Matthew Pillsbury, RRFD Historian

The third district station at 2300 Ridgeway Avenue opened in 2007.

Quint 250 parked outside at Ridge Road Station #3 on Ridgeway Ave

A hallmark tradition of the Ridge Road Fire Department, begun in 1935, is that their fire trucks are white rather than the traditional red or even yellow.

Frank Siebert and the Volkmars, Democrat and Chronicle, October 8, 1962, photo by Gordon Massecar

It is often a family affair for Greece residents who answer the call to fight fires as it was for this Greece Ridge family. At the dedication of the new firehouse in 1962, three-year-old Stephen Volkmar receives a salute from his father Chief at the time John Volkmar, his grandfather, former chief Alfred Volkmar, and his great-grandfather, none other than Frank Siebert. Although the Ridge Road fire district started as a volunteer company, today it does not have any active volunteer firefighters and has not had any for the last 20 years.

You can read more about the Volkmars as well as the Fetzner and Knipper families in the Society’s Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece available in the gift shop.

Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece by Marie Poinan, and Joann Ward Synder

In 1947, Ridge Road responded to 52 alarms; in 1959 it answered 126 alarms. Between 2016 and 2018, the district had an average per year of 7,390 calls for service, 68% of which were EMS calls. [1]

RRFD is the only one of the four districts in Greece and one of three in New York state to be accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, CFAI. The District first achieved accreditation in 2005, and again in 2010, 2015, and 2020. In 2017 it also received a rating of 2, from the Insurance Services Office (ISO) which places it in the top 3% of fire departments in New York State.

With all the training and resources that these firefighters do on a daily basis from doing routine inspections of fire systems in every business, drills, learning new techniques to battle fires, rescuing you from a motor vehicle accident, providing assistance to medical facilities for lift assist and other services they provide, could not prepare them to save ten guests at the Holiday Inn on West Ridge Road, from the town's deadliest fire at the Holiday Inn in 1978 even though the hotel had some of the fire prevention systems in place and yet it failed and Ridge Road Fire District had the equipment to fight the fire and resources to rescue the guest from the hotel and fire companies within a 6-mile radius of the hotel came to assist Ridge Road Fire District to get the fire under control, we will dig a little deeper next week into the Holiday Inn Fire.

We at the Greece Historical Society & Museum would like to congratulate the Ridge Road and North Greece Fire Departments on Celebrating their Centennial anniversary.

Thank you for joining us today.

Citations

[1] source from Future of the Fire Service in Greece Evaluating the Existing Conditions in and Considering Options in the Town of Greece June, 2020, https://www.cgr.org/greece-fire/docs/GreeceFireStudyBaselineOptions.pdf

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 12 – The Ridge Part 2

This week we continue the look at the central commercial district in the town most of you know as

The Ridge.

The Ridge today Satellite view via google maps

In the bicentennial snapshot # 11 the Ridge Part 1 – we started out with the life of the ridge forming from the glacial thru just the starting of Eastman Kodak company at Ridge Road and Lake Ave northwest corner. This week we look at the growth and population boom on the Ridge Road.

Topics that are featured in this video

  • Plank Road
  • J. Y. McClintock and the McClintock Cubes
  • Breif overview Annexation of parts of Ridge for the City of Rochester
  • The Greece Memorial Town Hall and ADA Ridge
  • Dewey Ave at West Ridge Road
  • Plazas on The Ridge
  • The evolution of the Ridge from a Path to a Six-Lane with Median

Plank Roads

Did you know that a portion of Ridge Road was a planked road? in the 1860s there was a section that was planked it was from Long Pond Road to Elmgrove Road (Henpeck Road). It was a 2.5-mile stretch that was plank which means is the road was made of wooden planks it was thought to have been 9 1⁄2 miles (15.3 km)and chartered on October 23, 1848, and there was a court case involving Kenyon vs the Seeley over the tolls that were collected on this plank road.

This is an example of a plank road
Keene Farm

For the most part, however, the Ridge was a dirt road until the beginning of the 20th century. In the foreground of this photo is the dirt roadway. A bicyclist goes along a cinder path; this was laid out circa 1884. One had to buy a license for the bicycle to use the path—that’s how it was maintained. One resident writing about the early nineteen hundreds said that bicycles were “almost as thick on that path as the cars are on the Ridge today.” Notice, Lay farm and the greenhouses in which flowers were cultivated as well as other fruits and produce were prep for the spring planting season.

J. Y. McClintock and the McClintock Cubes

In 1900, Ridge Road became a state road, and money was appropriated for its improvement. In 1909, an experimental paving technique was used; 2-inch square cubes, which were called McClintock cubes after the Monroe County Road Supervisor who promoted their use, had to be laid by hand across the 16-foot width of the road. More than 700,000 cubes were laid. The cubes were able to withstand the heavy traffic along the Ridge for only two years and then began to fail.

  • McClintock cubes
  • J. Y. McClinstock

Annexation of parts of Ridge for the City of Rochester

The city started to expand in 1850 slowly with the annexation of Driving Park, and yes there was a horse racing track, on Driving park. Then again in 1874. The Village and the port of Charlotte were annexed next in 1916. Then just after World War One in 1919, the City took the rest of lake ave as well as portions of Dewey and, and Ridge Road and Mt. Read Blvd. Because of the Annexation of the village of Charlotte the town needed a new town hall and town center that is when the Town Memorial Hall, was built as a tribute to all the lives lost as a result of World War 1, it was completed in 1921 and then expanded in over the next 80 years. More on this topic in a future snapshot.

The Greece Memorial Town Hall and ADA Ridge

On the right is a slideshow that shows the changes of the town hall over the last 80 years until the mid-1990s when the town outgrew the town hall complex at Ridge Road, and with Ridge Road Fire District being right across the street and the pending expansion of the Ridge in 2002. Here is a small expert from an article Alan Muller Greece Historical Society’s Historian wrote in the society’s newsletter talking about the reason for the change of the town hall location and why it was needed. The population at the time of the construction of the Town Hall at Ridge, Long Pond, and Mitchell Roads was only 3,350. More on this topic in a future snapshot.

The Tale of Three Bricks Or – “It only took 25 years”

Through the next almost eighty years many additions and changes were added to increase the needed space. Again, as before, talks were started that a new Town Hall was needed. The added arrival of the computer age compounded the problem. The electrical system, as well as the telephone wiring system, was aged and obsolete. The thick brick walls did not lend themselves easily to that kind of an upgrade.

Alan Muller – The Tale of Three Bricks Or – “It only took 25 years”

Across from the Town Hall was Whitman’s Service station which later became Wittman Motors and included a tow service. Wittman’s was located at 2496 Ridge Road, across from the old Town Hall.

Wittman’s Carriage shop became Wittman’s Motors at 2496 West Ridge Road

Dewey Ave at West Ridge Road

Corner of Ridge Road and Dewey Avenue looking west down Ridge, 1940s.
Corner of Ridge Road and Dewey Avenue
looking west down Ridge, 1940s.
Office of The Town Historian

With the invention of the Automobiles, it would allow thousands of Greece Residents to commute to Kodak or many other places throughout the town in the picture to the left you can see how busy the intersection of Dewey Ave and West Ridge Road was in the 1940s. More On the Dewey Ave corridor in a future episode of the Bicentennial snapshot.

Plazas on The Ridge

In the years after World War 2, the town started to explode with population growth, and with that, it brought a number of new plazas and centers to buy your households, groceries, home improvements supplies, and many other goods. Here is a list of the Plazas from the Mount Read to Elmgrove Road goes as the follows:

  • Staples/Home Depot or Lowes Theater plaza at Mount Read and Ridge (not included below),
  • Stoneridge is named for the plaza at the corner of Ridge Road and Stone Road,
    • Total Square Feet: 180,000
  • Ridgecrest – Located at Ridge Road and Fetzner Road,
  • Buchman’s – Buchman’s Bakery / Dairy
  • The Mall at Greece Ridge is the merger of Greece Towne Mall and Long Ridge Mall
    • Total Square Feet: 1,675,000
  • Ridgemont Plaza is the longest strip mall in Greece and has a post office in the plaza
    • Total Square Feet: 320,844
  • Lowes Plaza now or AMES plaza before 1997 whichever one you know it as
    • Over 295,000 Square feet but not Larger then Ridgemont
  • Finally, Elmridge Center which is Elm of Elmgrove Road and Ridge of West Ridge Road

If we are missing a name of a plaza that should belong on this list that it has to be on West Ridge Road and located between Mount Read Blvd to Elmgrove Road please let us know on our Facebook page if we are missing it and we will at it to this post.

in 1968 The Town’s first indoor mall opened with only 16 stores filled and by Christmas, all 46 shops were filled. More on the 2 malls and the merger will be a future snapshot.

One of the deadliest fires in the town of Greece occurred across from Stoneridge Plaza The Holiday Inn, we will cover it in a special of it is own due to the amount of information from the fire. And with that this was not the only building that had a fire on the Ridge in the Ada Ridge snapshot we tell you about an another fie and this is at the Rowe Tavern and that St. John’s helped moved a building to so the Rowe Tavern could reopen.

The evolution of the Ridge from a Path to a Six-Lane with Median

On the New York DOT they a pdf with the Annual average Daily Traffic what do you think is the annual average daily for the range from Maplewood to elmgrove. This was from a 2003 report from the New York State Department of Transportation Traffic Volume Report for MONROE COUNTY.

RouteLengthStart DescriptionEnd DescriptionYearAADT
1040.98Manitou Rd (RT 261) W GREECEN Greece Rd0329742
1040.09N Greece Rd(NY-386) Elmgrove Rd0020930
1041.87(NY-386) Elmgrove RdLONG POND RD SB0133317
1040.92LONG POND RD SBFETZNER RD0321607
1040.09FETZNER RDACC RT 3909847261
1040.62ACC RT 390STONE RD9944342
1040.26STONE RDMT READ BLVD ROCH W LN0049547
1041.14MT READ BLVD ROCH W LN(NY RT-18) DEWEY AVE9838514
1040.64(NY RT-18) DEWEY AVERT 940M LAKE AVE0139107
1040.06RT 940M LAKE AVERIDGEWAY AVE0035421
1040.23RIDGEWAY AVEACC MAPLEWOOD DR0054558
Total Vehicle travel414346
2003 NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Traffic Volume Report for MONROE COUNTY

This was the reason the Ridge evolved from a path to a two-lane road to a four-lane to now a six-lane with raised medians from coming off the Keeler St Expressway to Palm St and then the median picks back up at Dewey Ave and continues from there until Elmgrove Road/North Greece Road.

Lay Farm

The Corner of West Ridge road and West Outer Drive where Bob Johnson Chevrolet stands today started out as the Lay Farm it the became the Pine Tree Inn, and then Ver Hulst Farm and Ver Hulst Brothers Farm Market from 1936-1993. From 1998 and currently, Bob Johnson Chevrolet, one of the largest automobile dealerships in the country occupies the site.

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