The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department, Candlewood Company is a 100% volunteer department located on Bayview Drive in Candlewood Shores in the town of Brookfield, Connecticut. We serve the town and provide mutual aid to our surrounding communities jointly along with our sister department, the Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company which is located on Pocono Road.
The History of Candlewood Company "Pride, Brotherhood, and Tradition"
In November of 1934, the town fathers of New Fairfield established a fire department to protect its residents and property from the ravages of fire. The New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Company #1 (or "Company 'A') was established, located in the town center near the intersection of route's 37 and 39. The formation of the man made Candlewood Lake on February 27, 1928, had separated the town. This mammoth body of water now isolated the eastern section that bordered the town of Brookfield. Until 1949, if a fire occurred in this now separated part of town, the apparatus and firefighters would have to travel almost thirty minutes, via the city of Danbury, to answer the call for help!
On June 30, 1949, the New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Company "B" was established in the popular lakeside community of Candlewood Shores in an effort to provide better fire protection to the residents of this isolated area. Company 'B' was a small, two bay structure. The brothers Ralph and Raymond Reynolds, who were the developers of 'Candlewood Shores', donated the property on which the firehouse would be built. Ten local men volunteered, and Raymond Reynolds had the honor of being elected the original Chief. These men met once a month on a Sunday for training and held monthly meetings.
On December 11, 1961, Company 'B' became the Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department, Candlewood Company, Incorporated, as a result of an agreement between the two towns. This once isolated part of New Fairfield was now a part of Brookfield. The membership remained as was, and the signs on the apparatus and firehouse were changed to Candlewood Company in honor of the lakeside community it originally served. This decade would prove to be a very exciting time for this department.
In 1962, the company took delivery of a 2500 gallon GMC tanker replacing the original 1949 model. In that same year, a very advanced Plectron system was purchased to aid firefighters in the receiving of fire calls in their homes. No longer would they have to rely on the telephone or community sirens (located on top of the firehouse, on Berkshire Drive, Skyline/Clearview Drive, and Prange Road) to alert them of a fire.
In 1965, Candlewood Company took delivery of a brand new pumper built by Maxim on a Ford chassis that was designed by the membership of the department. With its 750 gpm pump and 500 gallons of water, this piece of apparatus quickly gained fame in the greater Danbury area as being a top competitor in parades and 'musters', and an effective piece of firefighting equipment. In 1967, another busy year, our first annual "Las Vegas" night (also known as a "smoker") was held at the firehouse as a means of raising funds for the department. In October of that same year, additional land was purchased south of the firehouse to provide room for a much needed addition. In 1968, construction of the new addition began which would add two new large apparatus bays, and a meeting hall upstairs. In the spring of 1968, Chief James Black died while in office on April 25, proving to be a difficult time for firefighters, but the members pushed on. In 1969, the Fire Police unit was formed. These men were responsible for diverting traffic away from emergency scenes to assure the safety of the firefighters. In that same year, Candlewood Company fought a large arson fire at the Jolly Roger Restaurant and Inn (now known as the 'Candlewood Inn'), assisted by Center Company. The 'Maxim' was 'first due', and worked for many hours to extinguish the massive blaze!
In September of 1972, Candlewood Company was summoned for mutual aid by the Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company to help battle the conflagration on Pocono Road at Grant's Farm (now the Town Hall, Center Company, and UPS properties. Again, the Maxim lived up to its reputation and aided in the containment of this stubborn wind blown inferno that was eating away at the farms and farmhouses on Pocono (now known as the entire area from Route 133 to the Town Hall and Police Department property). In that same year, Candlewood Company members had several graduates of the state's newly created Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) class. In 1976, after several years of design and planning, the Pierce Manufacturing Company delivered a new mini-pumper Rescue truck to Candlewood Company. This apparatus, designated 'Candlewood Rescue', was used as a First Responder vehicle to Emergency Medical Service calls, as well as lighting and brush fire vehicle. It carried 100 gallons of water and a 250gpm pump. The design was so well recognized that Pierce would build over 100 similar units for other departments, and, the vehicle would go on to win the "Best Overall" trophy at the New York Fire Chief's Show and Exposition in at the Concord Hotel, in Monticello, New York.
In January of 1978, the Junior Member program was developed under the direction of then Lieutenant Gary Gramling, to allow teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 years of age and opportunity to train to become firefighters. This program went on to be very successful, and today is still a key in obtaining new members, and accounts for the starting point for every line officer under the rank of Chief.
In 1980, Candlewood Company took delivery of the first "Top Mount" Class 'A' pumper in the state of Connecticut from Pierce. The 1250gpm/1000 gallon Pierce/Hendrickson had an on board in-line foam system supported by 30 gallons of AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam), and the first ever Master Stream Device in the town. This massive apparatus (by Brookfield standards at the time) replaced the aging General, and, was dubbed 'Engine 21'. In May of 1980, Marine 24 was purchased. This 14 foot 25 horsepower "Sears Game Fisher" aluminum fishing boat has been used at many boat fires and water rescue incidents through the years. In August of 1986, Engine 21 was one of the first pieces of apparatus on scene of the "Bottom Line Furniture" blaze (Federal Rd and Sandy Lane) and its deck gun was used in attacking the blaze and protecting the adjoining commercial establishment, which was a carpet store.
In May of 1987, Candlewood Company took delivery of another 'Class A' pumper from Pierce. 'Engine 22' was another top mount 1250gpm/1000 gallon Pierce Arrow that has a pre-piped deck gun and 1500 feet of 5 inch "Large Diameter Hose". This unit replaced the Maxim and became the 'first due' truck at all fire calls. Engine 22 would supply large volumes of water to the 'attack' units (including New Milford's new 100' Ladder Tower) at the 'Dry Dock Marine' fire at Federal and Silvermine Roads in March of 1991. This 'Engine' (or 'Pumper') is still in service as the 'second due' engine in our company today.
In November of 1990, the long awaited arrival of our new rescue truck had come. 'Rescue 23' is a custom designed Pierce body mounted on a Ford chassis. It has a 30kw PTO driven generator which powers two 1500 watt telescoping floodlights, a portable 500 watt tripod mounted floodlight, several other portable floodlights, remote cord reels, and a on board breathing air compressor system for refilling our SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) and SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) tanks at the scene of an emergency. This well designed unit contains the "Hurst Tool" (also know as the "Jaws of Life"), Rescue Air Bags for lifting or separating heavy objects in a narrow space, cold water exposure suits for cold water and ice rescues, as well as a wide variety of fire fighting tools, rescue tools and medical equipment including a semi automatic defibrillator. Rescue 23 boasts an 8-year run as the "Best Appearing Rescue" at the Bridgewater Fire Departments annual parade, and "Best Appearing Rescue - Light Rescue Category" at the 1999 Connecticut State Fireman's Convention and Parade!
In the winter of 1995, a second unit was added to our 'Marine Division'. Manufactured by VIP, "Marine 25' is a 19 foot long center console fiberglass hulled boat, powered by 125 horsepower outboard motor. This vessel was purchased 'used' form the Lillinonah Lake (the lake that boarders the eastern side of Brookfield) Authority. Candlewood Company members worked throughout the winter cleaning it up and adding radios, etc, in order to get it ready for the coming season on Lake Candlewood. It is kept docked on the lake (while our other boat, Marine 24, is trailered for responses to other bodies of water (including a mutual aid response to the town of Ridgefield's Lake Mamanasco for a missing person in 1999) from April to October to expedite our responses to fires, boating accidents, and other related emergencies on the lakes and other bodies of water around town.
In April of 1998, we took delivery of our brand new Engine 21 from Pierce (replacing our old unit, a 1980 Pierce/Hendrickson that was sold to a department in South Carolina). The new, 1998 custom Pierce Saber pumper carries 1000 gallons of water on board and has a 1250-gallon per minute pump. It also has a fully enclosed air-conditioned cab that can seat 8 members at a time. It responds "first due" to all fire calls. As you can see, Candlewood Company has a unique history filled with pride and honor.
In the summer of 2003, we took delivery of our newest vessel Marine 25, replacing our former center console style boat with a true fire/rescue craft. The boat, which is docked at Candlewood Shores, provides the necessary platform for both fight fires and perform rescue operations. It also adds the capability of providing a water source at any waterfront fires that may occur.
2009 brought the arrival of our new Engine 22, a Crimson Gladiator custom pumper which carries 1000 gallons of water and is capable of pumping 1750 gallons per minute. Equipped with an on board firefighting foam system as well as a Hurst extrication tool, this multipurpose truck brings a great resource to the town.
This well equipped and well-trained department goes into the next millennium with the same goals as in 1949 - "...to protect its residents and their property from the ravages of fire and to help our neighbors in their time of crisis".