November 14, 2013

Keene Valley honors longtime firefighter


---- — KEENE VALLEY — There are lots of Halls in Keene Valley Hose and Ladder Co. No. 1.

Three generations to be exact — 150 years in combined volunteer service.

At a recent celebration, the Fire Department paid tribute to the eldest, the one who started it all.

Richard L. “Dick” Hall has been part of the crew for 57 years, variously its leader and strategist.

He’s a former fire chief — for 15 years — and current chief of the Fire Police.

And both his son Ron Hall and grandson Ryan Hall also serve with Keene Valley’s volunteer fire company. Ron is a former chief, and Ryan is third assistant chief now.

Current Keene Valley Fire Chief Stephen “Rusty” Hall is a second cousin to Ron — the two firefighters’ grandfathers were brothers.

And Ian Hall, Rusty’s son, is also a firefighter here and second assistant chief.


Dick Hall chuckled as senior members of the crew recalled adventures past. 

Larry House, another former Keene Valley fire chief, remembered when the Hose and Ladder Company’s newest truck was a 1958 model.

“In 1978,” he said, “we thought it was time to get a new fire truck.”

After placing the order, Dick Hall and House drove to Indianapolis to pick it up. On the road, headed home, they opened a side panel in the cab.

“And here’s a bottle of Jim Beam,” House said.

Well, he said, the firefighters didn’t imbibe until they stopped at a hotel, but the discovery was testament to the trip.


House also shared a recollection of a bad house fire in Keene Valley during the 1980s. He and Dick, then fire chief, had recently trained to spot back-draft scenarios. 

At the Quinn residence that day, House said, “it was a bad situation, the smoke was puffing out from under the eves. We came up with a plan … and it worked. 

“I’m thankful for having served under Dick Hall. Most of all, I’m thankful for Dick Hall being my friend all these years.”


Keene Councilman Paul Martin reflected some, too, on a remarkable gift to their community.

He said Dick is a man of many talents, having founded and run Valley Grocery for 44 years, served 16 years on the Town Council, volunteered with the ambulance squad, served on the School Board and served as a member of the Keene Youth Commission Board for 20 years.

“Fortunately, he plied those talents for the community, for us,” Martin said. “He doesn’t talk an awful lot. But when he does talk, we listen.”

Martin said, years back, the elder Hall was an athletic mentor, cutting hockey sticks from alder branches to use on nearby ponds frozen in winter.

“Dick was a great ice skater,” Martin recalled, “very tricky with the alder.”


Beth Pelkey shared a letter from Keene Valley Fire Chief Rusty Hall, who remembered early days when Dick was part of the ambulance squad, and one car accident in particular, when the grocer left work to respond wearing a blood-stained butcher’s apron.

The 50 or so people in the fire hall chuckled at the thought of what passers-by must have imagined that day, seeing the EMT standing by the road in a blood-stained apron.


Assemblyman Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) presented Dick Hall with a proclamation from the State Legislature that he and Sen. Betty Little had both signed.

Stec said he learned early, in the first hours of the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, what the Keene Valley community and its fire company is made of.

He referred to Dick Hall as the “glue” of the fire company.

“You find out a lot about people when the chips are down,” Stec said. “Keene Valley has a lot to be proud of.”


Getting ready for a group photo after the presentation, Dick, his son Ron and grandson Ryan, 23, reflected some about why their family has been part of the first-response team here for so many years.

“I felt like it was the right thing to do,” Ryan said.

His grandfather smiled, and three pairs of the same blue eyes exchanged a look.

Ron said it’s dedication.

“You want to help your community. I can remember as a kid when they were doing drills, being happy just to go and sit in a firetruck. 

“I’m very proud of my dad.”

Email Kim Smith