For one hundred and fifteen years the Cold Spring Fire Co. No 1 has proudly served the residents of the area. Formed in 1896 by nineteen private businessmen, the Fire Company was incorporated with the sole intent to provide fire protection to the residents of the Village of Cold Spring. From its inception the Fire Company has been a non-political entity, in that we officially take no stance on political matters – especially in local politics. That being said, the Membership of the Fire Company would like to go on record to put to rest two issues that have been somewhat misquoted publicly, and to a certain extent politicized.
First, on the issue of keys to the Company headquarters: The President of the Fire Company first approached the issue of changing our locks nearly six months ago. That was far before any political elections or discussions about associate members. The reasoning behind the change was two-fold. One, the locks to the building had not been changed in many years and there was no accurate accountability of who had access to the building. Members had come and gone, keys were passed on, lost and duplicated. Two, the locks were changed stemming from a notice and conversation the Company had with our insurance carrier who had inquired about how we were protecting and securing member’s personal information, including related health information. It was suggested that any weaknesses in that system be addressed, and they were. The locks were changed; keys were numbered and distributed to members – including the Village of Cold Spring. We believe that this entire issue has been one huge miscommunication between the Mayor and the Fire Company. The Mayor has stated we have denied him and the Police Department a key to our headquarters, this is false. Rather, we had asked that the Village make a written request for keys in order to provide a record of who at Village Hall had access to our building. Anything less would defeat the purpose of attempting to provide accurate accountability.
Secondly, we would like to state that it has been an honor and a pleasure marching with the Cold Spring Fire Company Pipe and Drum Band for the past five years. In that time, we counted ourselves among a select few Fire Companies that had the distinction of associating with a band who marched under the Company Banner. From the New York City Tartan Parade, onstage with the Chieftains at Carnegie Hall, to the yearly Memorial Day Parade – the Fire Company was represented. During that time, however, the band was operating as “unofficial” members of the Cold Spring Fire Company. On numerous occasions we requested a complete band membership list and most importantly medical physicals for marching band members. These requests went unanswered. Dating back to May of 2007 the Fire Company requested this information and it was furnished incompletely and no proposals for Associate Membership were ever presented to the Fire Company for approval. Starting in the fall of last year, again at the urging of our insurance company, we attempted to rectify these issues by telling the band we could no longer allow them to march for us without the needed documentation and that they would have to officially join the company as Associate Members. After meeting with the Pipe Band Officers four separate times, they decided to rename their organization, form a new non-profit entity and find a new practice space, however still maintain a connection to the Fire Company by playing at member funerals and allowing us a reduced rate for parades. Again, it was difficult to see the “Cold Spring Fire Company Pipe and Drum Band” cease to exist, but it was in the best interest of the Fire Company and the Band to maintain a connection, yet have them form a different entity with its own rules, regulations, and financial accounts.
In conclusion, the membership of the Cold Spring Fire Company would like to reiterate that we are not a political organization, and our mission is one of fire suppression and safety for all residents in the community. We ask that political matters be left to the politicians, and that we the fire fighters be left to those duties upon which our company was founded.
The Membership of the Cold Spring Fire Company No. 1.
(Also reprinted in the May 11th issue of the Putnam County News and Recorder as a Letter to the Editor)