Stony Hill History: 1949 – 2004
The seed of the Company was planted when Anthony
J. Rubino, owner of the Stony Hill Inn, called
on Michael Hugyo Jr., Julius “George” Hugyo and
Harry Lent with the express purpose of seriously
discussing a fire company in the Stony Hill
District. Many months of meetings followed with
the group of interested people steadily growing.
In rotation, The Stony Hill Inn, Avalon Inn, and
Armando’s were the meeting sites. The list of
questions to be answered was also growing —
company size, location, financial support,
Underwriters’ requirements, town and state
requirements, organization structure,
incorporation and many more. The founders sought
the advice and comments of established fire
companies In neighboring towns and the Bethel
Volunteer Fire Department. The chiefs of these
organizations were invited to speak at the
meetings. Speakers from other organizations such
as the Bethel Tax Payers Association were also
September 12, 1949, a slate of temporary
officers, beginning with Captain, was elected
and Mr. Joseph Mantak was voted to this first
Webb of the Bethel Fire Department addressed the
founders at the September 26, 1949 meeting. He
advised them to send a committee to the Bethel
Department to investigate being incorporated
with them. Captain Mantak, Mr. Tomanio, and Mr.
Muffati went to Bethel for this discussion. On
October 11, they reported that, “The Bethel
Department feels we should start from scratch.”
Start they did.
On November 28, 1949, a permanent slate of
officers was elected with Joseph Mantak again
being named captain. Eight days later the
Articles of Association were signed by Anthony
J. Rubino, Gaston F. Balme and Jacob Zimmerman
in Attorney Wanderer’s office in Danbury. Being
officially incorporated as a nonprofit
organization, the charter members moved on with
their stated purpose of protecting life and
property from fire. The charters members:
At the January
1950 meeting, the distaff side requested
permission to start a Ladies Auxiliary. This
group was to become a most dedicated and helpful
partner in supporting the Company. Their first
donation of $100.00 was made in June of 1950. It
was used to start a Kitchen Equipment Fund for
the firehouse that was still a dream.
In February 1950,
Jacob Zimmerman loaned the Company $1,000.00, at
no interest, to purchase two used American
LaFrance fire trucks from the town of Mamaronek,
a hook and ladder and a pumper. The 1916 pumper
was delivered in March and was to become
affectionately known as “Betsey Ann” or “Old
Betsey.” This veteran apparatus had a gear pump
and could really throw water at little more than
idle engine speed. The ladder truck was
delivered in May. It had a dubious
characteristic for a fire truck, or any vehicle,
in that the steering gear would often lock in
the full turn position.
Tony Rubino found
that land on the corner of Weed Road and Route 6
might be available from the State for a
firehouse site. Inquiry was made, and based on a
phone call description, the land was purchased
for $600.00 in March 1950.
At the May 8,
1950 Town Meeting, $10,000.00 was appropriated
for the Stony Hill Firehouse. R. Marinden
donated his architectural services in drawing
the plans for the 40’ x 6O’ building, the west
wing. It contained a double bay, a ladies’ room,
a men’s room with a work bench and kitchen that
also housed a forced hot air furnace. In
September 1950, Alan Boughton was awarded a
contract for $8,864.00 for the building with
rough plumbing, insulation and a septic system.
Lighting, heating and plumbing fixtures were
subcontracted or installed by the Company. The
first meeting in the firehouse was on January
22, 1951, though the building was by no means
completed. The Town of Bethel also appropriated
$3,000.00 for Company expenses in the 1951-52
In the November
1951 Company election, J. Donald Craig was named
captain. In this month, the Company also
acquired a 1938 Ford Pick-Up. Nineteen fifty-one
had been a very busy year with completion of the
building a prime project.
Harry Lent was elected captain at the annual
meeting in 1952. Carnival stands, firecracker
sales, card parties, dances, fund drives and
pool drawings were means of raising money to
support the operation of the now blossoming
Charles Gereg was
elected captain in November 1954. In this month,
a 1947 Ward LaFrance pumper, Engine #2, was
obtained from the Bethel Department in return
for supporting their request for a new pumper.
George Hugyo was
elected captain in November 1955. The
subject of an ambulance service by the Company
was broached this year by Junior Ely. Also, the
old ladder truck was sold in January 1956 to
Rubino Brothers of Norwalk for $150.00.
was elected captain in November 1957. A 1939
Chevrolet 600 gallon tanker was obtained from
the Bethel Department in January of this year,
In October of
1960, Louis Godkin presented plans for the
addition of a Meeting Room on the east side of
the firehouse. The footings and foundation were
laid in late 1961 and the building was completed
in 1962 at an approximate cost of $5,000.00.
This was Company funded including a donation of
$1,000.00 from the Ladies’ Auxiliary. William
Cabral was paid for his time as journeyman,
mason, carpenter, and director of operations for
the Company members who worked on the project.
The Town of Bethel donated the shingles for the
addition and the firehouse which was re-shingled
at this time. A newspaper picture of the first
meeting in the new room showed Captain George
Hugyo, elected in November 1961, receiving a
$1,000.00 check from his sister, Emily Hodgsen,
President of the Ladies’ Auxiliary.
Edward Granatin was elected captain in November
In 1965, the organization structure was revised
to establish chief as the first officer. In May
of 1965, a 1958 Dodge tanker holding 1,200
gallons was purchased from the Dolan Oil Company
for $1,100.00. The Company received its first
new apparatus in September 1965, Engine #1, a
Ward LaFrance pumper with a 1,000 gpm pump and a
1,000 gallon booster tank. This was built on a
1964 Ford “950” chassis. The unit was built to
Company specification and was budgeted by the
Town of Bethel at $18,500.00.
In 1966, the
Company purchased a 1954 G.M.C. pick-up for
$495.00. This replaced the Ford pick-up.
George Hugyo was
elected chief in November 1967, for his third
round in the first officer position.
“Old Betsey” was
sold for $250.00 in July 1968.
A new mini-pumper,
Truck #4, was received in June 1971.
In April 1971, a
1952 Ward LaFrance pumper, Engine #3, was
received from the Bethel Department in exchange
for Engine #2 which was sold. A new mini-pumper,
Truck #4, was received in June.
Discussion began in 1972 about a much needed
building expansion. There were now five vehicles
in the original double bay building. A Building
Committee; George Hugyo, Hugh Hugyo, Hugh Odell
(succeeded by James Belot), Phil Runge, Emile
Racenet, H. John Dietter and Louis Godkin-Chairman,
was appointed to prepare specifications. The
Bethel Permanent Building Commttee engaged
Whitcomb Associates to design the structure and
Dolan Construction Company to build it at a
final cost of approximately $222,000. The
project, renovations of the west wing, 10’
extension of the Meeting Room to the East, new
kitchen South of the Meeting Room and a 40’ x
60’ double through bay east wing was completed
in August 1975.
In the midst of
the building project and in November 1973,
Edward Whitlock was elected chief. His two years
in office were very busy with building connected
activities as well as directing the Company.
for an ambulance service began in 1974 with many
members enrolled in the EMT course and the
advanced first aid course. This was in
preparation for manning the Company purchased,
owned, and operated ambulance which was received
in March 1975.
MacWilliams was elected in November 1975 and
directed the Company in its continuing service
to the community.
beginning history does not attempt to recognize
the endless contributions of the time and effort
by all the members since that first meeting. The
Company today is their tribute.
history continues and the company goes through
many changes. A new Firehouse was needed and
construction began in 2001. The first phase of
the project was to demolish the old station.
The Stony Hill
Fire Station July 2000
the new engine bays began in fall of 2002
the old building began shortly after the new
bays were finished and the equipment moved over.
New bays were
completed in May of 2003
The New Stony
collected and developed by Peter Samardak with
the help of many of the members of the Stony
Hill Volunteer Fire Department of 2004. Without
them and their sacrifices, this couldn’t have be