Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 45, Part I

By Holice and Debbie



Their Headquarters and Association Rooms. -- The Association of Exempt Firemen. -- New York Firemen's Association. -- Volunteer Firemen's Association. -- Veteran Firemen's Association. -- A Noble Charity. -- Reception Tendered to the Old guard. -- Volunteer Firemen's Sons' Association.


In the fall of 1842 there was a scheme conceived to establish a Paid Fire Department, and at a meeting held in Monroe Hall, in Centre Street, over which Edward Dayton presided, the Exempt Firemen's Association was started, with Uzziah Wenman as president; James Gulick and John Ryker, Jr., vice-presidents; Neil Gray, secretary; C. Conklin Titus, sergeant-at-arms. The next year the title of the association was changed to the present one. The year after the disbandment of the Volunteer Fire Department, the Legislature enacted that the president and two vice-presidents f the association, and the trustees of the Volunteer Fire Department Benevolent fund, should be a body corporate and politic, by name and style, to have control of the fund, and power to remove trustees and fill vacancies. On the fifteenth of February, 1886, the Act which incorporated these officers was amended by the Legislature, as follows:

Section 1. The President, two vice-presidents of the Exempt Firemen's Association of the City of New York, and the present Board of Trustees of the Exempt firemen's Benevolent fund of the City of New York, an their successors in office, are hereby constituted and appointed a body corporate and politic by the name and style of "The Trustees of the Exempt Firemen's Benevolent Fund of the City of New York," and by such corporate name may sue and be sued in any of the courts of this State. The said corporation created by the said Act hereby amended, shall continue to exist for thirty years after the passage of the Act.

Sec. 2. The existing trustees and officers of said corporation shall hold their respective offices for the unexpired terms for which they were respectively elected; and thereafter, upon the expiration of their present terms of office, there shall be elected by the Association of Exempt firemen of the City of New York, at their annual meeting, to be held in the City of New York on the third Tuesday in January of each year, from their own members three trustees of the said Exempt Firemen's Benevolent Fund, to hold office for the term of four years, and a treasurer of said fund, to hold office for the term of one year, and who shall be ex offico a member of said corporation. And in case any election herein provided for shall not be made, on any day when pursuant to his Act it ought to have been made, he said corporation shall not, on that account, be deemed to be dissolved, but it shall and may be lawful on any other day to hold and make any such election in such manner, at such time, as shall have been regulated by the by-laws and ordinances of the said association.

Sec. 3. The funds of the said corporation, as now existing, shall be kept invested as directed by said trustees of said corporation, and with the revenue derived therefrom, and from all other sources, or so much thereof as shall be required, shall be appropriated and used for the aid and relief of such persons and their families as shall have been lawfully discharges from the late Volunteer Fire Department of the City of New York, who may be in indigent circumstances; and to the families of the members of said department who have been maimed or killed in the discharge of duty as a volunteer firemen.

Sec. 4. The said corporation is hereby empowered to make the bylaws for its own government; to annually elect, from its own members, a President and Secretary; to provide a suitable place for its meetings, and if necessary, an office for the Treasurer, and may employ a clerk for the Treasurer, at a salary not to exceed the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars per annum. It shall also have charge of the firemen's grounds and monument at Greenwood Cemetery, and shall pay these and all other necessary expenses. The President and two Vice-presidents of the Association of Exempt Firemen, for the time being, shall be notified of all the meetings of the said Board of Trustees, and may take part in and vote upon any business before said board. The Treasurer shall give security for the faithful discharge of his duties, in a bond or bonds, to said corporation, in such form and amount as it may prescribe or approve, and he shall, at every annual meeting of the corporation, and also to "The Association of Exempt Firemen of the City of New York," render an account of the state of the funds, how invested, the amount and sources of revenue of said corporation, and the disposition thereof. The officers, trustees, and Treasurer, shall none of them be entitled to or receive any compensation for services in any such capacity.

Sec. 5. The said corporation may purchase and hold, in its said corporation name, any real estate sold under foreclosure of any mortgage held by it, and may sell and convey the same. It shall not hold, at any one time, real estate which shall exceed in value the sum of fifty thousand dollars.

Sec. 6. The Association of Exempt Firemen of the City of New York shall have the right to inquire into the investment, the revenue and disposition of the funds herein provided for; and to displace any member of the corporation guilty of misconduct, and to elect another in his stead, and in case of any vacancy occurring in said corporation, the said Association of Exempt firemen of the City of New York, shall, at a regular meeting, elect another or others for the unexpired term of the person or persons in whose office such vacancy shall exist.

The rules of the Association of Exempt Firemen were remodeled in October, 1867, by P. W. Engs, president; Zophar Mills, and A. F. Ockershausen, vice-presidents; and George W. Wheeler, secretary.

The benefits of the Association are fellowship, sixty dollars funeral expenses, and a delegation at funerals. The present officers are;


Zophar Mills


David Milliken and John R. Platt

Recording Secretary

George W. Wheeler

Financial Secretary

Francis Hagadorn


James Y. Watkins, Jr.


Joseph D. Costa

Executive Committee

J. D. Costa, Hugh Curry, Elisha Kingsland, H. R. Roome, Daniel Mooney, Chris, Johnson, R. L. Lomas, and A. C. D'Ozeville.

The Exempts meet at Caledonia Hall, but much of their business is transacted at No. 174 Canal Street.

The officers of the Association from October 13, 1841 to date, were:


Uzziah Wenman

October 13, 1842 to January, 1847

Samuel B. Warner

January, 1847 to January, 1849

Adam W. Turnbull

January 1849 to January 1851

Philip W. Engs

January, 1851 to January 1876

Zophar Mills

January 1876.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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