FIRE DEPARTMENT APPARATUS
At the same time, the West End Hose Company Number Six requested the village board to provide the company with the procedures to be followed when seeking replacement of existing fire apparatus. Mayor Joseph Natale informed the members of the company to forward their request in writing to the fire chief.
Trustee Charles Pempsell, Chairman of the fire and water committee, on February 2nd, reported on the meeting, which was held with the officers of Ladder and Rescue Number Seven. He stated, “ that the company is awaiting a letter from the planning consultant relative to the purchase of fire equipment.”
On April11,1970, the West End Hose Company Number Six engine was responding to an alarm of fire at the Christie Construction Company on Broadway when it was involved in a collision at the intersection of Walden Avenue and Dick Road. Two civilians and one firefighter were injured in the collision and were taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Emergency # 7.
Now Fire Chief Robert Fiegl was faced with a dilemma, which he now presented to the village board. Chief Fiegl had looked into securing a used replacement truck, repairing and repainting the damaged truck and the third option was to purchase a new truck. The damaged truck would cost approximately $1,300 to repair. The Mayor called for a meeting to be set with the village board and fire chief to discuss all of the options and it was decided to repair the Number Six engine at this time.
In early August of 1970, Trustees Charles Pempsell and John Potter passed a resolution authorizing the purchase of a station wagon to be used by the Chief of the Depew Fire Department and set up five rules for the use of such equipment. Prior to this time, the fire chief and all of the assistant chiefs were using their own private vehicles in responding to fire calls. The new chief’s vehicle was purchased thru the New York State bidding process and by October 19th, the new Fire Chief’s vehicle was received and placed into full service by Fire Chief Robert Fiegl.
The West End Hose Company Number Six sent a letter to the village board in mid January 1971, requesting the board to consider the purchase of a new pumper for use by the company and to allocate funding for the down payment of the proposed vehicle in the upcoming 1971-1972 budget. The request was referred to the fire and water committee for recommendation but funding was not included in the budget to fund the requested purchase since the control of the village board changed after the March 1971 election.
On May 2, 1973, the West End Hose Company again submitted a letter to the village board requesting permission to form a truck committee and on May 21, a motion was made to have the West End Hose Company chose eight men for said committee. In mid-July, the village board received a letter from Fire Chief Frank Capan, in reference to the committee to purchase new apparatus and this correspondence was referred to the fire and water committee where it remained until December when Trustee Henry Wienckowski called for a meeting of the fire and water committee and the rest of the village board to discuss the purchase of a truck for the West End. The meeting was not held and Wienckowski again requested a meeting with the entire board to discuss the purchase of a fire truck.
Finally on March 4,1974, a motion was offered by Trustee Wienckowski, that upon the recommendation of the Fire Chief and his four assistants, that the West End Hose Company Number Six is hereby authorized to draw up specifications for the purchase of a new fifty-five foot Snorkel truck with a 1250 G.P.M. pumping capacity and to present said specifications to the village board upon their completion. The resolution received a second from Trustee Norman Downey and the resolution was passed with a unanimous vote, with one trustee being absent.
The resolution sparked a stormy response from the representatives of the West End Hose Company as William Roscoe and George Sterner speaking for the West End, went on record as opposing the recommendation of the Fire Chief and his assistants for the purchase of the fifty-five foot Snorkle truck. The fire company had recommended a seventy-five foot model, which the truck committee felt would be more economical in the future. They also requested that instead of bids being advertised for one specific truck, that bids be advertised for both types of trucks. Fire Chief Frank Capan again stated his position that he recommends the purchase of the fifty-five foot Snorkel truck.
Trustee Norman Downey who had made the second to the motion, stated that he took the reputation of five men which totaled over one hundred years of experience in the fire service and their recommendation which was given to the board and he further stated that, if he was to change that, he could not, as it would be a slap in the face to these men.
Following a meeting between the fire and water committee, other board members, Fire Chief and assistants and the truck committee from the West End, Trustee Henry Wienckowski informed the village board on May 20, 1974, that he would rescind the resolution for a fifty-five foot Snorkel at the next board meeting and that the board inform the truck committee and Chiefs to draw up specifications for a seventy-five foot Snorkel truck to be used by the Depew Fire Department.
On June 10th, Wienckowski requested specifications for the truck from the West End Hose Company and Chief Capan informed him that, the specifications were forwarded to the village clerk. The fire and water committee was to obtain the specifications from the clerk and to study them.
Trustees Wienckowski and Roger Palusak rescinded the resolution of April 4, 1974 which authorized specifications to be drawn up for the fifty-five foot Snorkel and authorized the fire and water committee and fire chiefs to draw up a set of specifications for a seventy-five foot Snorkel truck and to submit these new specifications to the village board for approval. The village clerk was then directed to advertise for bids for one seventy-five foot elevating platform or Snorkel truck with bids to be received on July 15, 1974.
Sealed proposals were received by the village board on July 15, 1974 for a seventy-five foot Elevating Platform complete with chassis, cab, body, ground ladders, a 1250 G.P.M. pump and optional equipment to be used by the West End Hose Company Number Six of the Depew Fire Department.
The Snorkle Fire Equipment Company of Saint Joseph, Missouri, submitted the lone bid of $134,983. The Ward LaFrance Corporation declined to bid and the lone bid was referred to the Fire Chief, Assistant Chiefs and entire village board for study.
The bid was awarded to the Snorkel Fire Equipment Company in a roll call vote by a four to three vote. Trustees Norman Downey, Henry Wienckowski, Roger Paluszak and Stanley Wojcik voted in favor of the resolution with Trustee Downey stating that he voted yes as he had talked to the Fire Chiefs and that they feel the fire department needs this piece of fire apparatus. Voting against awarding the bid were Trustees Charles Pempsell and Leroy Arber as well as Mayor John Potter. They voted no, stating that they recognize the need for a new fire truck in the village but they think it is too large an expenditure for the village. Mayor Potter stated we need a new fire truck but not a Snorkel. The vote was along party lines with the Good Government members on the board voting for the Snorkle and the members of the Independent-Progressive Party opposed.
At the August 5, 1974 meeting of the village board, the village attorney reported that a bond resolution is needed in the amount of $135,600 for the seventy-five foot fire truck.
A discussion was held between the village board and Fire Chief Donald Wegst and his assistants. Trustee Wienckowski spoke of the necessity of this piece of apparatus and requested that the board vote in favor of the bond resolution. Trustee Pempsell stated that the trucks should be moved pursuant to the recommendation of the fire underwriters. Mayor Potter stated that everyone is aware that the fire company needs a new truck, and he also read a letter from the Insurance Fire Services Office concerning a rate decrease. The fire chiefs spoke in favor of the seventy-five foot Snorkle truck, looking into the future use of said truck. Trustee Arber stated that he was not against a new fire truck but not in favor of spending this sum of money for a Snorkle as the fire department already has an aerial device.
After the discussion, the board went into executive session and after reconvening the regular meeting; Trustee Henry Wienckowski offered the following resolution, that the village attorney is authorized to draw up a bond resolution in the amount of $135,600 for the purchase of a seventy-five foot Snorkle truck to be used by the Depew Fire Department. The resolution was again defeated with the vote being four in favor and three opposed. The resolution was defeated for a lack of five affirmative votes, which is required by New York State Finance Law in order to pass a bond resolution.
Following the defeat of the bond resolution, a motion was adopted to rescind the motion adopted of July 22, 1974 to purchase a seventy-five foot Snorkle truck. The motion was adopted by a unanimous vote of the board; however, this was not the end of the controversy.
During the citizens complaints section of the meeting agenda on August 19, 1974, Richard Kucharski, a resident of the northwest section of the village, representing the Home Owners Association complained of the lack of fire support in that section of the village in regard to the underwriters report and questioned the board on what is being done to resolve the issue.
Mayor John Potter replied that the three members of the board who voted against the bond resolution to spend $135,600 for a Snorkle truck were of the opinion that the village could purchase two first class pumpers for that amount of money. A delegation of members from the West End Hose Company Number Six and Fire Chief Donald Wegst also spoke to the board concerning the purchase of the Snorkle truck and urged the board members to reconsider and vote for the bond resolution to purchase the truck.
Mayor Potter and Trustees Arber and Pempsell stated that they still feel that this piece of equipment is too expensive and a pumper should be purchased instead. Mayor Potter also stated that he and the board members would review the fact finders report presented to the board by the members of the West End Hose Company and report back to the fire department after review. Later in the meeting, Trustee Leroy Arber questioned Fire Chief Donald Wegst, asking the Chief if in his opinion the village was covered with adequate fire protection. Chief Wegst said yes it was with the exception of the West End Hose Company Number Six. Arber directed the Chief to make sure that the village is protected properly.
At the September 9th meeting under unfinished business, Fred Furminger of the West End Hose Company inquired what is being done to resolve the question of a Snorkel truck for the West End Hose Company. The discussion, which followed, was a re-hash of previous discussions on the subject.
Following the discussion, Trustee Charles Pempsell moved that the West End Hose Company Number Six be hereby directed to draw up a set of specifications for a new pumper truck. Trustee Leroy Arber seconded the motion.
Trustee Roger Paluszak offered an amendment to the motion with a second from Trustee Henry Wienckowski, directing the West End Hose Company to prepare a set of specifications for a seventy-five foot Snorkel truck. The vote was again along party lines with the amendment being adopted by a four to three vote. After a lengthy discussion, Mayor Potter stated that he would meet with the firemen from the West End on September 13, 1974 in order to attempt to solve the impasse, which existed.
A special meeting of the village board was called on September 26, 1974, the purpose of which was to arrive at a final decision relative to the bond issue of the Snorkel fire truck.
Trustee Henry Wienckowski requested that the village clerk read a letter received from Mr. Ralph Brighton, Manager of Human Resources, Arcata Graphics Corporation of Depew, New York. In his letter to the village board, Mr. Brighton urged the Village of Depew to reconsider the purchase of a Snorkel truck for the West End Hose Company. The letter was received and filed.
Trustee Wienckowski then inquired of the village attorney if the contract with the Snorkel Fire Equipment Company was still binding and if the bid price was still being held open. Village Attorney Joseph J. Schultz indicated that a letter, which he had sent to the Snorkel Company following the defeat of the bond resolution on August 5th, had canceled the contract. A letter was received from William J. Shoemaker, Inc dated September 12th, which indicated that the bid price was still valid and would remain open until September 27, 1974. After that date, a price increase of approximately eight percent would be initiated, should the board decide to go ahead with the purchase.
Mayor Potter called for a ten-minute executive session and after the meeting was re-convened, Trustee Wienckowski requested that the correspondence from the Snorkel Company to the village attorney be entered into the official minutes of the meeting. Village Attorney Schultz reminded the board that in order to pass the bond resolution, five affirmative votes would be required under the New York State Finance Law.
Trustee Wienckowski inquired if the board, at this time passed a bond resolution, would the present bid of the Snorkel Company still be legal and binding and attorney Schultz re-affirmed that in fact it would so be binding and the bid process would not have to be repeated as the contract had already been awarded to Snorkel Fire Equipment Company.
Now, Trustees Wienckowski and Paluszak again offered a resolution to authorize the village attorney to draw up a bond resolution in the amount of $135,600 for the purchase of a Snorkel fire truck and again the resolution failed to receive the necessary five affirmative votes required by law, with the vote again along party lines as in previous attempts to pass similar bond resolutions.
Following the defeat of the resolution, Mayor John Potter directed Assistant Chief Francis Roscoe, a member of the West End Hose Company, to draw up specifications for a pumper truck with a full complement of ground ladders, a vehicle commonly known as a Quad.
At the December 16, 1974 meeting of the village board, Mayor Potter requested Fire Chief Donald Wegst for a report on the truck specifications, which the Mayor had requested to be prepared by Assistant Chief Roscoe. The Mayor requested that Chief Wegst get the truck committee working on the specifications and to report back to the board at the next meeting.
Under the fire and water committee report at the January 6, 1975 meeting of the village board, Assistant Chief Roscoe spoke relative to specifications for the fire truck for the West End Hose Company and stated that the committee is not holding up the specifications and that the members of West End Hose Company are standing firm on the recommendation of the fire chief’s for a Snorkel fire truck as the company feels that a pumper is inadequate. Mayor Potter stated that he had requested specifications to be prepared for a pumper or a Quad truck in November.
After several other firemen spoke relative to the type of fire truck recommended by the fire chief and his assistants, the Mayor called for a meeting with the fire chiefs and village board on January18, 1975.
In the mean time, Depew Hose Company Number One had sent a letter to the village board requesting permission to form a new truck committee. In response to the request from Depew Hose Company Number One, the village board on January 6th granted permission to the company to form a new truck committee and to prepare a set of specifications for a replacement-pumping engine for the company.
On March 3,1975, a letter was received by the village board from Fire Chief Donald Wegst with a set of specifications attached which were then referred to the fire and water committee. Evidently, the specifications were not to the liking of the village board. In April when the re-appointment of Donald Wegst as Fire Marshall came up, Mayor John Potter refused to re-appoint Fire Chief Donald Wegst to the position. This issue will be covered in the section under the title Chief Officers.
After a meeting between the fire and water committee and the fire chief on May 10, 1975, Fire Chief Donald Wegst submitted a set of specifications recommending that a 1250 G.P.M. pumping engine be purchased for use of the West End Hose Company per the specifications as prepared by the truck committee of the West End Hose Company.
On June 9, 1975, the village authorized the purchase of a 1250 G.P.M. pumper fire truck for the Depew Fire Department, stating that the estimated maximum cost thereof is $80,000, appropriating said amount therefore, including the appropriation of $10,000 in current funds to provide a down payment and authorizing the issuance of $80,000 serial bonds of the Village of Depew to finance the balance of the appropriation. The bond resolution was subject to a permissive referendum.
The village clerk was also authorized to advertise for sealed bids for one 1250 G.P.M. Class A Triple Combination Pumper with bids to be received on July 7, 1975 at which time bids were received in the amount of $93,565 from the American LaFrance Fire Engine Company and the Young Fire Equipment Company submitted a bid of $93,631 with delivery in 180 days and an alternate bid in the amount of $89,787 with a delivery in 90 days. The bids were referred to the village board, attorney, fire chief and truck committee for recommendation.
Following the review of the bids received, the truck committee of the West End Hose Company recommended that the bids be rejected and that the village board re-advertise for bids. On July 21st, the village board rejected the bids as being excessive and exceeding the authorized bond resolution and ordered the village clerk to re-advertise for bids to be received on August 4, 1975.
Three bids were received on August 4th. The Ward LaFrance Company submitted the low bid of $86,061. Young Fire Equipment Company’s bid was in the amount of $86,480 and a third bid was received from American LaFrance Fire Engine Company in the amount of $85,565. The bids were accepted and referred to the village board, attorney and fire chief for further study and a recommendation.
After careful study by all concerned, the bid was awarded to the Ward LaFrance Company of Elmira Heights, New York in the amount of $86,061 for one 1250 G.P.M. Class A Triple Combination pumper with a top mount pump panel. A change order to the contract was ordered by the village board on September 8th to include a hard suction hose and adapters at a cost of $1220, with funding for the additional equipment from Federal Revenue Sharing Funds.
On November 22, 1976, Trustee Charles Pempsell of the fire and water committee reported on the progress of the new fire truck and indicated that delivery should be expected to the village on or about December 1st.
On December 13, 1976, the village attorney was authorized to draw up a Bond Anticipation Note in the amount of $77,500 concerning the purchase of the new fire engine, pursuant to the resolution adopted by the village board on June 6, 1975. On December 27th, payment was authorized in the amount of $78, 553 to Ward LaFrance for the new engine; however, the village to insure that necessary corrections were made to the apparatus retained an amount equal to ten percent of the cost.
A truck dedication, presentation of keys to the apparatus and the traditional wash down by neighboring companies was held on Sunday January 9, 1977 along with an open house at the West End Fire Station. Thus came to a close, the most controversial era in the history of the Depew Fire Department surpassing Fire Chief John Carlson’s long campaign to equip the Depew Fire Department with motor driven apparatus.
On April18, 1977, upon the recommendation of the Fire Chief Eugene Maciejewski, the new engine, a Ward LaFrance Ambassador 1250-DD-5 pumper, Ward LaFrance specification, 80-1345, which was delivered to the West End Hose Company, has now met all specifications and the village board was advised to complete payment of the ten percent, which had been held back, to the Ward LaFrance Company.
The new engine was not painted in the traditional fire engine red but was painted a new color lime yellow, which was being touted as a safer color and more visible in traffic and under poor lighting and nighttime conditions as opposed to the red, which at night was said to look black to the human eye. The next several trucks ordered were all painted in this new color until the trend was reversed in 1981. After the new engine was placed in service at the West End station, the Emergency truck was painted to match the new rig.
In early October, 1977, Trustees Leroy Arber and Richard Kubiak, offered a resolution directing the village attorney to prepare a bond resolution in the amount of $105,000 for a new Class A Triple Combination pumper to be used by the Hose Company Number One of the Depew Fire Department and at the next village board meeting on October 17, 1977, a bond resolution was presented and approved, authorizing the purchase of a 1250 G.P.M. pumper fire truck, including equipment and apparatus with a maximum cost of $105,000, appropriating $5250 in the current budget and $99,750 in serial bonds. This was subject to a permissive referendum.
The truck purchasing committee, which had been appointed to draw up a set of specifications for Hose Company Number One, was chaired by Past Chief and now Captain John C. Carlson, Lieutenant Clifford Barten, Lieutenant Anthony Bugaj, Past Chief Donald Wegst, Sr. and Assistant Chief Donald Messenger.
The village clerk was also authorized to advertise for bids for one 1250 G.P.M. Class A Triple Combination pumper, mounted on a custom chassis with bids to be received on November 3, 1977 at which time two bids were received. The first bid was from the Churchville Fire Equipment Corporation in the amount of $99,527, without a trade-in. Comprosec Fire Equipment Corporation bid $99,794, with a trade in. The bids were received and referred to Fire Chief Eugene Maciejewski and village board for review.
On December 5, 1977, after careful study of the proposal and bid presented by Churchville, the bid was rejected due to ten exceptions to the specifications. The bid was then awarded to the Comprocec Fire Equipment Corporation located at 4223 Genesee Street, Cheektowaga, New York, in the amount of $99,794 pending approval of the contract by the village attorney.
On April 20, 1978, a new Chief’s station wagon was delivered to the Village of Depew for the use of the chief of the fire department. The vehicle was a Mercury Marquis station wagon, which was purchased for the amount of $5,233.95 after having been put out for, bids twice. This vehicle was painted in the white over lime yellow combination, as was the new engine on order for the use of Depew Hose Company Number One.
A Bond Anticipation Note was authorized on April 16, 1979 in reference to the purchase of a fire truck for the use of Depew Hose Company Number One of the Depew fire department, pursuant to a bond resolution adopted on October 17, 1977 with a down payment in the 1978-1979 budget of $10,000. This was done as Fire Chief Charles Scherer had reported to the village board that the new truck for Hose Company Number One was expected to be delivered in the first part of the following week. He stated that he and several of his assistant chiefs and the truck committee would visit the Ward LaFrance factory in Elmira Heights, New York at the end of the week to make a final inspection of the truck.
Trustee Fred Grzyb reported at the May 7th meeting that the new truck had been delivered to the Village of Depew on the day after Easter and was being prepared to be placed in service and work that should have been done at the factory was being completed here in Depew. For the record, it should be stated here that this truck was probably one of the last trucks built by the Ward LaFrance Company as shortly after, the company filed for bankruptcy and went out of business.
Depew Hose Company Number One held a dedication ceremony for the new pumper on Sunday, May 20, 1979 at the north side fire station. Invitations were extended to former Mayor John Potter and Village Trustees who had authorized the purchase of the truck as well as the current administration. The other companies of the fire department as well as neighboring fire companies also took part in the traditional wash down of the new pumper.
On July 2,1979, Trustees Donald Snios and Fred Grzyb offered a resolution that upon the recommendation of Fire Chief Charles Scherer, that the new truck for Hose Company Number One has been delivered and all equipment and necessary repairs have been completed to the satisfaction of the truck committee, complete payment is hereby authorized to Ward LaFrance for said truck.