In February 1956 a group of citizens banded together to form a second fire department in the Town of Salem. The first fire department was located on the west side of town. It was felt by the residents on the eastern side of town that there was a need for a second fire department due to the length of time it takes to get from one side of town to the other in the case of a fire or other emergency.
On February 20, 1956, the GARDNER LAKE VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY was formed and held their first organizational meeting in Congdon’s garage. They had neither a fire truck or a place to house a fire truck. Nevertheless, at that very first meeting they elected a Chief, 1st Assistant Chief, 2nd Assistant Chief, Secretary, and Treasurer. They also voted on the official name of the company and to purchase a fire truck for $1,500. That same evening, they appointed a Building Committee to make plans to build a firehouse to house this first fire truck.
Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Snarski donated the land on which the firehouse was to be built, and with $2,000 from the town, they were on their way to purchasing the first fire truck and breaking ground for the firehouse. In March of 1956, ground was broken for the fire house. With much volunteer work by the founding fathers, on January 3, 1957, 11 months after the organizational meeting, the first company meeting was held in the new firehouse. The fire house consisted of two apparatus bays and a large recreation hall. Dances were held each week in the new hall. Proceeds were used to pay off the mortgage that had been taken out for the building. The $10,000 mortgage was paid off in four years and two months. In November 1960, the Gardner Lake Volunteer Fire Company was debt free and in full operation!
In December 1960, the Company purchased an ambulance. A tanker holding 1500 gallons of water was added to the department in 1961. The founders of the Gardner Lake Volunteer Fire Company were a group of dedicated and determined individuals who never lost sight of the reason for their existence; the protection and preservation of the life and property of the citizens of Salem.
It is the dedication and determination of our founding fathers that has guided us through the last half century of existence and it is that same dedication and determination of our current membership that will serve us well into the future.