With the surrounding community poised for development due to the installation of water, gas and sewer lines and in need of fire protection, a group of citizens petitioned the Cicero Town Board to form a fire department in South Bay. That petition was unanimously approved on December 14, 1954, thereby forming the department. Following approval, 35 volunteer firefighters worked nights and weekends to build the first 36’ x 40’ concrete block firehouse, literally by hand. They mortgaged their homes for the construction and the first piece of equipment, a 1939 Buffalo Pumper/Tanker, purchased for $3000 from the Mattydale Fire Department. The first fire call was in August 1955.
The department was created to serve an area of approximately ten square miles located mid-way between Cicero and Bridgeport on the south shore of Oneida Lake. The early years were a difficult time to be a firefighter. Technology, safe equipment, standardized training, and many other developments hadn’t developed into today’s fire-fighting standards yet. The hazards these firefighters faced were astonishing, compared to today’s brave men and woman.
As the department grew, it stayed abreast of the ever changing requirements and standards of the industry. Eventually, the members decided that the rapid arrival of trained medical staff would help ambulance providers save lives. The department trained, and purchased rescue equipment, to further augment the ambulance service provided to the area. The original fire house was expanded to create a four-bay garage measuring 36’ x 80’.
On the community front, the South Bay Fire Department Auxiliary was established in March 1955, to support the department and also to increase the social activities of the community. Later, a banquet hall measuring 60’ x 100’ was added to host hundreds of events organized by the tireless auxiliary. A fully equipped kitchen was built, allowing citizens to host wedding receptions, catered gatherings, and other functions.
In 1956, the South Bay Fire Department decided to become a charter host for the Cub Scouts of America and, on November 1, 1956, Cub Scout Pack 32 was created and sponsored. Pack 32 is now the longest-chartered Cub Scout pack in the area and still sponsored by the SBFD.
In April 2015, to celebrate 60 years of exemplary service, the Town of Cicero presented an award and proclamation to the South Bay Fire Department in honor of their contribution to the community for six decades. Accepting the plaque are President Tom Dorn and Chief Dan DeLargy. Looking on are past Chief Ed DeGray and Firefighter Kevin Carey. Town Board Councilors in photo are Mark Venesky (left) and Richard Cushman (center).