The department originally started in 1905 as bucket brigade to help minimize property loss due to fires. In 1907, this brigade was formally organized into the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Association under its first Chief Edward H.Schleuter. The current firehouse at 15 Noel Road was opened in the summer of 1908. In 1913, Chief Chris Hoobs died of a heart attack responding to a fire. This would be the only line of duty death to our knowledge in the departments history even to present day. They received their fire charter from the state of New York in 1917 and were known from then on as the Broad Channel Volunteers.
In 1956, then Deputy Chief Robert H. Russell, Sr. added volunteer ambulance services to provide first aid and ambulatory care to the residents of Broad Channel. Robert H. Russell, Sr. would go on to be elected to the rank of Chief of Department 21 times from 1957-1973, 1975-1977, and again in 1984. By the early 1960’s the department was growing rapidly in both stature in the community and as a organization as a whole. On the summer weekends during the 1950’s and 1960’s, the FDNY would send Rockaway Eng Co. #267 to the Broad Channel Volunteers quarters to assist in answering alarms on the island. The reason for this was the bridges North and South of the island were draw bridges and would frequently be opening for large passing ships.
This would impede response by FDNY, EMS & NYPD companies to the island for any type of major emergency. Also, Cross Bay Boulevard would be jammed by beach goers and those looking to vacation at Rockaways bungalows and hotels and its famous Rockaway Playland. FDNY firefighters would leave their engine parked and join the volunteers on their engines because they were much newer and more dependable then the apparatus FDNY had at the time.
Over the 101 years the Broad Channel Volunteers have been in service, they have created a close working relationship with the local FDNY companies as well as the volunteer companies from Nassau & Suffolk Counties. The Broad Channel Volunteers are also dues paying members of many organizations such as the Southern New York Volunteer Firemans Association, the Firemans Association of the State of New York, and along with the 9 other volunteer fire departments in the 5 boroughs of New York City, they are members of Volunteer Firemans Association of the City of New York.
In the late 1970’s, The Broad Channel Junior Fire Department was organized to help train young teens in the aspects of the fire and EMS service as well as dispatching and clerical duties while still cleaning the firehouse and its apparatus. When its members turned 18, they were allowed to begin riding the apparatus as firefighters or start training as EMT’s. The benefit was these teens were already knowledgeable in the operations of the department and it became a breeding ground for the departments future firefighters, officers and chiefs. They would later become a Boy Scout Explorer Post, #3069.
In 1994 under Chief Dan McIntyre, the volunteer ambulance corps were granted their New York State Certification. Since then, the department took the initiative to require all its firefighters to be New York State Certified in all aspects of the fire service as well as EMS. In 1994, Chief Dan McIntyre also started the departments Marine Company which is still in service to present day. The department operates a small Coast Guard-like Zodiac as a swift water rescue team with certified EMT’s on board and in some instances certified divers as well.
The Broad Channel Volunteers, Inc. is a 501(C)3 Not-For-Profit organization that relies solely on door to door fundraising, grants from politicians and from the state, and for 102 years has operated 100% volunteer.