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Charters Hose History
Friday, January 24, 2020 ..::  ::..   
The History of Charters Hose Company #4


The Charters Hose Co. # 4 was founded in 1909 in the fourth voting ward of Ansonia's westside. Local residents in the "Windy Hill" area, feeling they needed more adequate fire protection organized the company. At that time, there was only one firehouse located in the West Ansonia area, Fountain Hose Co. # 1. To better protect their homes and the westside of town, the residents began to organize a hose company.

On March 6, 1909, a group of young men gathered at the home of Michael J. Conners, organized the Fourth Ward Association and elected Conners as the first president. During these first meeting, talk of creating the club into another firefighting unit to cover West Ansonia began. March 28, 1909, the members of the Association held a meeting which began the organization of the fourth fire company in the city. With this, the members had secured aid from the Mayor of Ansonia, the Honorable Stephen Charters. With a meeting being held on April 3, 1909, on the corner of Murray and Grove Streets, a committee was appointed to place a proposition to the Board of Aldermen on the formation of another fire company. The name of the Association was changed on May 5, 1909, to the Fourth Ward Fire Club, setting their goals becoming a fire-fighting unit. With this meeting, rules were adopted and the meeting place moved from Murray Street to Ruffus Street, a few blocks away. March 5, 1910 marked the date for a re-organizational meeting, thus moving the Fire Club back to Murray Street. The club's permanent quarters were located at 35 Murray Street in the old Malumphry building.

A petition was drawn up on December 30, 1910, to be presented to the Board of Alderman. The members of the fire club circulated the petition among the residents to sign, for a fire company to aid in protecting the city and the Fourth Ward. The petition was met with great acceptance among the residents and also had the blessing from mayor charters. The Board of Alderman gave the petition serious consideration. Finally on February 13, 1911, the Board acted favorably on the recognition of another fire fighting unit in Ansonia. One special note, in 1911, February 13th landed on a Monday, not a Friday! A formal meeting was held on March 6, 1911, to bring a formal existence to the Fourth Ward Fire Company. However, a few weeks later, the Board of Aldermen, those who accepted the Fire Company, began to have second thoughts. The first request for a firehouse was rejected and two of the most prominent members of the Board of Aldermen stated that the majority of the Fourth Ward residents never rally approved another Fire Company. This was obvious a misstatement because of the numerous signature on the petition. Also a petition for another parcel of land and a later purchase of a truck were rejected also. Mayor Charters was sympathetic to the needs of the Fire Company, but as the case, he could not influence the boards that watched the town's finances.

The Fourth Ward Fire company continued to meet and on April 21, 1911, a member of the company introduced a motion to rename the company to CHARTERS HOSE COMPANY No. 4. The motion was made to rename the company after Stephen Charters for the tireless effort and help he ad given to the membership's existence. The vote was unanimously accepted and Mayor Charters, present at the meeting, thanked the membership for the honor and stated that he would continue to aid the company. At this meeting the membership cried out loud "WE'LL STAND TOGETHER, OR IF WE FALL...WE'LL FALL TOGETHER!" Thus marks the motto of the Charters Hose Company. Stephen Charters became an active member of the company on May 22, 1911. He presented the company a portrait of himself inscribed with "Stephen Charters -- To Charters Hose Co. 4, A.F.D., November 15, 1924. The portrait was accepted officially by the company on December 15, 1924 and still sits at the front of our meeting parlor. However, September 16, 1939 marked a severe blow to the organization, when the Honorable Stephen Charters entered into eternal rest. The wake was held in the meeting parlor of the fire company, which he held dear to his heart. An honor guard was formed by the company and were helped by members of Eagle Hose & Hook & Ladder Co. 6, Fountain Hose Co. 1, and Webster Hose, H&L Co. 3. A large delegation for all of Ansonia's fire companies as well as the Storm Engine Co. 2 of Derby marched along side the remains of Mr. Charters to his final resting place.

The first piece of equipment was bought from the Eagle Hose and Hook & Ladder Co. # 6 for a price of $1. This cart remained in service for several years. A modified Locomobile replaced the wagon in 1924, crude yet better than the old pull cart. By 1925, our next piece of motorized apparatus was built by the Seagrave Company of Columbus, Ohio. This truck, now privately owned by a Connecticut resident, remained in service until 1949. Our second engine was a 1949 Seagrave, which was later sold to the Hilltop Hose Co. # 5 for the price of $1. Our beloved '49 became a major centerpiece for the Hilltop organization. The '49 remained in service for several years with Hilltop Hose, when they acquired it in 1961. From this time on, the Charters have had a close relationship with the Hilltop organization. 1962 marked the year for a new truck. Built by the American La France Truck Company of Elmira, NY. This was one of the first pieces of apparatus having the "cab in front of wheel" design in Ansonia. Story has it that the truck actually was $100 dollars more than another truck. However, the City accepted the American La France fire truck instead. After 19 years of service (and several fires, including Sponge Rubber in Shelton, CT) the '62 was retired and became the fire department's spare piece, designated Truck 2. Old Engine 4 was replaced by another American La France. The Century model 1250 gpm pumper with 500 gallon booster tank was put into service in 1981. Not even four days old, Engine 4 saw its first fire on Lester Street at Bridge Street. New Engine 4 continues to serve the city well and will be in service for a long time to come.

Our existing firehouse, located on the corner of Murray and Day Streets, was built in 1924. Finished on August 20th of that same year, the city accepted the new West Ansonia firehouse. The city did not see a firehouse built since 1891. The firehouse was designed after Faneuil Hall in Boston, Mass., the "Cradle of Liberty," meeting place of the patriots of the revolution. The piece of land where the firehouse now stands was privately owned and was not up for sale at the time. However, a resident, William Kelly, a relative of the owners, bought the land from his cousins and then sold it to the city.

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