Community BBQ all about preserving Greenwood Volunteer Fire Co., museum


History is preserved at the Greenwood Volunteer Fire Company and Museum, and the volunteers will continue the tradition by throwing a fundraising barbeque on Sunday, September 24.

Museum President Robert Carlow said the firehouse, which was converted into a museum in 1973 by retired firefighters, has a rich history as a community gathering point.

“They used to be a big social organization. The barbeque is a throwback to the past. It is reminiscent of the social aspects to old firefighting days,” he said.

He explains the old firehouse would hold banquets and carnivals throughout its life to booster donations.

“It was a way to get the community involved and support the organization,” Carlow said during down time on his shift at the Coventry Fire Department.

Carlow said the museum needs assistance from the community again, faulting low membership and maturing members as a reason the buildings had gone into disrepair.  He said the last three years has brought a fresh coat of paint and a new roof, but restoring the firehouse to its 1960s condition is a long-term goal.

“We’re really trying to preserve it,” he said.

He said he considers the museum a jewel in the rough and is something for the city that shows the history of Warwick during its time of growth. Two of the museum’s gems, a shiny red 1954 Maxim Pumper labeled Engine 7 and a red and white 1940 Mack fire truck will be out and on display for cookout participants.

The museum consists of two white buildings at the end of Kernick Street. Tucked behind the Main Avenue and Post Road connector is the banquet hall with shining wooden floors and a freshly painted porch. Next-door is the old firehouse, a two-story building housing two fire trucks on the first floor with the museum artifacts and displays upstairs.

The walls are covered with photos of Warwick firefighting history. There are glass cases with shelves lined with badges, helmets and hoses. Carlow’s favorites are an old wooden water main dug up from Central Falls in 1982 and a Hunneman hand-tub pumper from 1825.

Like fundraisers in the past, the annual cookout aims to give back to the community while putting money into preserving the museum. Repairs such as a new furnace and service on the 1954 Mack fire truck are on the top of Carlow’s list.

Joan Lowder, museum curator, said she’d like new carpeting upstairs. Standing in the second-floor hallway, she pointed to small numbered tags on pictures and said she wanted more descriptive labels on the photos. Specifically, she would like names to match the many firefighters in the photos. Standing beside her was volunteer Karen Leite, who pointed to a black and white photo of firemen in uniform standing beside a truck. It’s her father, she said. Lowder added her husband worked for WFD as well.

“We’re really trying to preserve everything. We’d like to keep it going, but we need help,” she said.

During the barbeque, other volunteers will curate tours that are included in the $25 ticket. Steak tips and pulled pork donated by Texas Roadhouse will be served along with sides provided by Lowder and other members. Liete, who Lowder said is known for her baking, will make the desserts.

This year’s cookout will feature demonstrations from both Warwick police and fire departments. Carlow is excited to have Magic Gardens of RI return to perform live chainsaw cutting. The event starts at 1 p.m. and goes to 4:30, ending with a raffle. Tickets will be sold until September 20, with a limited number available at the door. For more information contact Robert Carlow at 302-1120.


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