A group of more than one hundred citizens held a meeting at the Palmer House to organize the Depew Volunteer Fire Company in July 1893. However, they lacked proper equipment, including hydrants.
A meeting was held on January 30, 1894 at which a large attendance of Depew and Lancaster citizens appeared. Several of the officials of the Lancaster Village were present along with a large representation of the Lancaster fire companies. It was understood that the principal subject of discussion would be that of fire protection for Depew and the equipment of the Depew Fire Company.
After Dr. William Fairbanks, President of the Depew Fire Company had called the meeting to order, President George Huber of Lancaster was unanimously chosen to act as chairman.
The first question brought up for discussion was that of the Depew Fire Company, being at that time thoroughly organized and ready for duty, the matter of equipment was the next important question.
At a previous meeting of the company, the officers of the Lancaster companies had offered the Depew Company the use of a hose cart and hose until Depew could provide their own equipment. The matter was again discussed at this meeting on January 30th and the conclusion arrived at that the apparatus could not be spared from Lancaster. The matter of procuring and placement of hydrants in different parts of Depew was next discussed.
Back in 1893, the officials of the Village of Lancaster succeeded in having a bill passed annexing the whole of the Village of Depew to their village. Since the bill had been passed, Lancaster had collected and had taken the benefit of Depew’s tax money. Though Depew was then part and parcel of Lancaster, it was not benefited by the taxes collected in Depew.
At the meeting, during the hydrant discussion, the information elicited from the Lancaster officials on the question at issue was this: If the “old village” wanted hydrants for their section of the town, that the new section should be treated likewise. But the “old village” had no water works accommodation. and, consequently, no use of hydrants: therefore the Depew section of the town was not to have them; that was to say, not out of public funds.
Superintendent Hazelton of the New York Central Shops had most willingly offered the Depew Fire Company the free use of the plants fire fighting apparatus for fires in the area outside of the shops. Mr. Hazelton also offered his assistance to the company whenever requested. The volunteer firemen accepted the offer of the New York Central Shops to use their equipment.
This arrangement continued until July of 1894, when the Grand Central House, which was under the protection of the Lancaster Fire Department, caught fire and burned out of control. The fire spread to adjacent buildings and nearly destroyed a hotel, barn and a grocery store. Quick action by the New York Central Fire Brigade saved these buildings as the Lancaster Fire Department failed to respond. The July 6, 1894 Depew Herald printed a heading condemning the inaction of the Lancaster Fire Department. The incorporation of the Village of Depew quickly followed as it was incorporated on July 23, 1894.
At the first meeting, the newly organized village board turned their attention immediately to the fire protection issue.
Trustees John Graney and John Zurbrick moved that a special election be held calling for an appropriation of $5,000 for water, fire supplies and equipment. The proposition was endorsed by the voters and five percent bonds were sold immediately and three days later, fifteen fire hydrants were ordered installed by the Depew Water Company, under a one year contract, the cost of the hydrants not to exceed fifty dollars.
Three hose carts were purchased for seventy-five dollars each, F.O.B. Depew, N.Y. and fifteen hundred feet of hose at eighty-five cents per foot.
On December 4, 1894, the newly organized Depew Hose Company Number One met and a committee was appointed to take care of the hose, cart and to get someone to letter the carts.
It should be noted here that when the newly organized fire companies were furnished with equipment, none of the equipment was capable of pumping water. This was a fatal mistake, as water for the fire fighting effort was provided at hydrant pressure, which would be in the range of 60 to 100 P.S.I., depending on the location of the hydrant in reference to the pump station. The insurance agents writing fire insurance in the village, insisted that a minimum fire hydrant pressure in the range of 45 to 60 P.S.I. would be acceptable in helping to reduce the cost of fire insurance to some degree.
Following a fire at the Buffalo Brass Works on Ellicott Road west of Transit road, it was written in the Depew Herald that, had there been a hydrant between the National Car Wheel Works and the burned Brass Works, so that 500 feet of hose would have reached the fire, that Hose Company Number One, who were first on the spot in two minutes time, would have saved the Works. Either provide additional hydrants or give each hose company an additional five hundred feet of hose.
The members of the Hose Company Number One deserve a great deal of credit for their promptness in getting to the fire and the manner in which they worked and saved the adjoining buildings.
George Weimer’s frame buildings, east of the Car Wheel Works, were on fire four times, but were put out with water thrown upon it from pails. The water works gave a good stream and good pressure of water from the tanks at 45 P.S.I. Had there been a telephone connection with the pumping station, so that the pumps could have been put in operation and given direct pressure, the force would have been even better, although it was good as it was.
After the Hook & Ladder Company was organized, the fire and water committee was instructed to purchase at once a suitable truck and other necessary apparatus for Depew Hook & Ladder Company Number One. Trustee Edward Hennessey, chairman of the fire & water committee, reported on February 15, 1897, that they had purchased a hook & ladder truck from the Rumsey & Company, well-known builders of Seneca Falls, New York for $900. The apparatus arrived in first class shape, complete in every detail on March 31, 1897, being the first piece of apparatus for the newly organized company.
The hose carts and hook & ladder truck were in constant need of repairs, especially the wheels, which often had to be replaced, as it was more economical to purchase new wheels then to make repairs.
In June of 1900, Village President Edward Byron, stated that it was essential for the board to purchase an extra hose cart in that it takes to long to repair the others. The board took no action.
In July 1900, the Rumsey & Company offered the village a hose wagon including two, three-gallon extinguishers at a cost of $470 or $460 for just the wagon. A communication was also received from McIntire & Miller of North Tonawanda, offering a strictly hand made hose wagon for $400. These two offers were referred to the fire and water committee for consideration. Both offers were rejected.
The question of purchasing a hose wagon was again brought up at the September meeting and a motion was carried to include the fire chief on a committee to visit the Elma Wagon Works and McIntire & Miller and see what price they would build a wagon for.
On September 24, 1900, the village clerk was instructed to solicit bids for a hose supply wagon for the fire department. On October 1st, two bids were received for a hose wagon, one from Fred Handel of Lancaster and the second bid was from McIntire & Miller. Both bids received were identical at $380. The bids were referred to a committee of the whole and it was decided to award the bid to Fred Handel of Lancaster in a four to one vote with Trustee Percy Malone, the lone dissenting vote. Trustee Malone also voted against the lettering of the wagon with the name of the Aetna Hose Company, preferring that it be lettered DFD for Depew Fire Department.
The Aetna Hose Company took delivery of their new supply wagon during the first week of March 1901 and it was described as ‘being a dandy.” It was painted a maroon color, and on the sides, in gold letters were the words, “Aetna Hose Company, Depew, New York.” Also arriving with the new wagon was a supply of new helmets, rubber coats and rubber boots. Three of the helmets for the fire chiefs were of a different color and were lettered for the chief and his assistants.
A problem soon developed with getting the fire apparatus to the fire scene. The carts could be hand drawn or pulled by a horse or team of horses, however, a man with a team was not always available. Having trouble with making arrangements for pulling the fire apparatus, the village offered three dollars to the first team to appear and to draw the Aetna’s, Hose Company One and the Hook & Ladder apparatus to a fire. The village offered an extra two dollars for calls during the night.
The firemen in the early days had to run to the fires, so they had to really be in shape as it was no easy task. In August 1906, the Aetna Hose Company drill was to run from the Gould Avenue firehouse to the Palmer House at Sanilac and Main Streets, lay 400 feet of hose and get a fire stream in three minutes.
Another problem that developed was moving the apparatus during the snowy, winter months. Runners had to be purchased and installed on the apparatus. It took two years of discussion and inaction before the board finally approved purchasing five sets of sleds or runners in February 1903, at a cost of $175.
In his Annual Report to the village board, Fire Chief John Carlson wrote that the heavy fire loss suffered during the past year could have been greatly reduced had there been sufficient water pressure. The department was also greatly handicapped by the apparatus being slow in responding to fire on account of not having teams at hand to draw the apparatus when an alarm sounded. He strongly urged the Honorable Body to take some prompt action to remedy these two bad conditions. This was perhaps the start of Chief Carlson’s campaign to motorize the fire department.
On November 19, 1911, fire destroyed the Cleveland House, which stood at the corner of Laverack and Calumet Streets. Fire Chief Carlson complained of low water pressure in the water lines furnished by the Western New York Water Company and reported that he had trouble in getting a team to haul the hook & ladder apparatus to the fire.
At the regular meeting in December, following the Cleveland House fire, Trustee James D. Higgins who was also a member of the Depew Hook & Ladder Company, gave up his seat temporarily and addressed the board as a fireman in reference to the lack of a team for hauling of the Hook & Ladder Company apparatus. He complained that during the past several fires that no team appeared to take care of the rig, and as a result, many of the members failed to appear at fires. He asked for some arrangements to be made for securing the services of a team for hauling the rig. The fire and water committee was instructed to make arrangements for a team to haul the Hook & Ladder’s rig. Apparently the arrangements made were not satisfactory, since in early January 1912, Chief Carlson again complained that the Hook & Ladder was unable to secure a team at a recent fire.
The teamsters who were available to haul the various fire apparatus were George Weimer, Charles Illig, Nicholas Becker, S.P. Reuther, Elmer J. Nash, W.C. Duttweiler, Stanley Gramza, Frank Lewandowski, William S. Cleveland, George E. Feurstein, Frank J. Stock, William (Baldy) Gonglewski and others. Many of these men were also members of the various fire companies in the village.
The lack of teams to haul the Aetna’s and Hook & Ladder to fires continued so that in June 1912, the rate for hauling these two rigs to fires was increased to $5.00 for day fires and $7.00 for night alarms.
A representative of the E.F. Thomas Motor Company appeared at the May 6, 1912 meeting of the village board and proposed a motorized fire apparatus for use by the Depew Fire Department but the fire and water committee rejected this proposal.
After several fires in the Sawyer Avenue (Main Street) section of the village, some residents and businessmen demanded faster fire protection. They claimed the Erie Railroad crossing being blocked by railroad trains and the failure of teams to respond fast enough to draw the fire apparatus hampered the service.
In April 1913, Mr. Thomas McHugh addressed the village board in regard to having a reel cart placed on Sawyer Avenue, stating that it was necessary in checking fires before they gained to much headway. He also stated that Mr. Sanford of the American Car and Foundry Company would furnish the material to construct a house for the storage of the cart if the board would purchase the cart and hose. This was referred to the fire and water committee.
The village board later responded by adopting a new schedule of rates for hauling fire apparatus. For day fires between the hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., the rate for hauling the carts of Hose Co One, Cayuga Hose Company and Central Hose Company was $3.00. The rate for hauling the Aetna’s and Hook & Ladder was $5.00. For night fires from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., the rates were increased $2.00 across the board. These rates were to apply to the actual drawing of the apparatus.
Each company was to have power to enter into an agreement with one man, who owned a team or other suitable conveyance, to respond to the alarms. In the event that the team arrived at the firehouse within ten minutes after the alarm had sounded and the apparatus had already been drawn to the fire, the man was allowed compensation at a reduced rate. Under this arrangement, a company could make a deal with one of it’s own members who had a team.
On May 1, 1913, Chief Carlson took his plea for modern, motor driven fire apparatus to the pages of the Depew Herald with the following article appearing in that publication.
During the month of February, Fire Chief Carlson submitted the annual report of the fire department, in which he recommended the purchase of two combination auto fire trucks. Since this report was published, considerable discussion has arisen among the members of the fire department and the citizens of the village as to the advantages the auto truck would have over the present apparatus. The Chief wishes to make the following statement as to the relative cost and maintenance and other advantages of the motor apparatus, through the columns of the “Herald.”
As to the comparison of advantages and increased efficiency of the motor apparatus over the apparatus now in use, the motor apparatus is so far superior to the present apparatus that there is no comparison.
As to the apparatus responding to alarms, the motor apparatus is always ready to respond- no waiting for horses, which usually takes from 8 to 15 minutes for the first team to appear at the fire house, and then a delay of 3 or 4 minutes, and by the time the companies are ready to leave the fire house, a fire gets a good start.
With the hand drawn apparatus, the men are able to leave their respective fire houses a little sooner, but these men after reaching their respective fire houses put on their rubber outfits and then start to draw a two wheel cart with 500 to 650 feet of standard fire hose, which weighs about 56 pounds in each 50 foot length, besides the weight of the cart and draw this cart a ½ mile or more to the fire. When firemen reach a fire they should not be physically exhausted.
The companies having horse drawn apparatus respond to their firehouse, put on their rubber outfits. If a team has arrived by this time it usually takes from 8 to 15 minutes to get them hitched to the apparatus and sometimes longer. If a team appears to draw these trucks and the fire is not to far from the firehouse, the men start to draw the truck by hand, the result being the same as in the case of the two-wheel carts. The men are physically exhausted when the fire is reached. During all this time, a fire has been gaining headway, making it harder to extinguish. This means more hose to be laid, more ladders to be raised, and a longer fight. The first five minutes after a fire starts is what counts. All fires are small at first, except those caused by explosions.
Of course, if motorized apparatus were installed, it will mean one paid man to each piece of apparatus and at night it would be necessary for the driver and four or five men to sleep in each house that has motor apparatus in it, in order that they would be able to respond to an alarm promptly.
The first cost of motor apparatus depends on what the type that is purchased, whether a chemical and hose combination or a triple combination, which consists of chemical, hose and pumping combination. The cost of the chemical and hose combination is about $5,500 to $6,000 and the cost of a triple combination apparatus is about $7,500 to $8,000.
There are many fires, in fact 65%, which can be extinguished with chemicals when discovered before they reach a serious stage. With chemical streams, the damage to property and contents is only a trifle as compared to damage done when it is necessary to use a heavy hose.
The maintenance cost of motor apparatus in this village would be only a small matter. Judging from the number of alarms, which we have had during the past three years. In the year 1910, 38 alarms, apparatus traveled 51 miles; year 1911, 28 alarms, apparatus traveled 42.5 miles; year 1912, 15 alarms, apparatus traveled 40 miles. Judging from these records, the maintenance cost would not exceed $30.00 per year for gasoline, oils and repairs. The cost of teams drawing apparatus last year was about $225.
As to the increased efficiency in the department with motor apparatus, I do not deem it necessary to go into details as any person can judge for themselves by the foregoing details.
As to the possible reduction in fire insurance rates, reputable parties have unofficially informed me, that a large reduction would be made in insurance rates if motor apparatus were installed in the village, as it means less fire loss to the insurance companies doing business in this village.
To the citizens it means far more then to the insurance companies, not only the reduced insurance rates, but better protection for the lives, homes and industries of the village at a comparative small increase in cost to the individual taxpayer and corporation.
I would advise that in case motor apparatus is to be purchased, that one chemical and one hose combination be placed in the Ellicott Road firehouse and the triple combination placed in the Gould Avenue firehouse since This section of the village has the greater risks and is more heavily populated.
The village is in the grip of a water monopoly charging high prices for water that is used for fire protection. The water company officials claim that they cannot furnish water for fire protection at a lower rate. The reader will undoubtedly be surprised to learn that for the year 1911, the village paid at the rate of approximately 1.3 cents per gallon for water used for extinguishing of fires. For the year 1912, the village paid at the rate of approximately 3 cents per gallon. The water company claims that the sum of $5,000 per year is a small enough price for water used for this purpose.
The triple combination apparatus with a 750-gallon per minute pump would serve in an emergency, as in the case of a broken water main or other cause where it would be impossible to get a working pressure. Then again, a higher pressure may be needed then the water companies mains could supply under the demand of any line, then the pump could be used to boost the pressure between the hydrant and the hose line. A 750 gallon per minute pump will supply three 1 1/8 “ nozzles at a pressure of about 15 P.S.I., which is considered a good nozzle pressure under ordinary conditions.
On November 9, 1913, fire destroyed two dwellings on Olmstead Avenue at about 10:30 P.M. This fire was difficult to handle on account of the prevailing high wind and the bad condition of the roads.
Fire Chief John Carlson seized the opportunity from this fire to argue for his crusade to equip the Fire Department with motorized apparatus.
In the November 13, 1913 issue of the Depew Herald, Carlson wrote the following letter addressing his concerns to the taxpayers of the Village of Depew.
Carlson wrote that I would like, through the columns of the Depew Herald to make an appeal for better fire apparatus, if you can find the space in your valuable paper for the same.
When the alarm of fire was sounded from Box # 55, located at Olmstead Avenue and Morgan Street, Sunday night, I arrived at the fire about three minutes after the alarm had been sent in. I found that the fire was in a partition of the store side of the building and was gaining rapid headway. Much excitement prevailed among the people in this neighborhood, and it was impossible to get anything to make an attempt to check the rapid advancement of the fire. In a few minutes the fire had gained much headway that nothing could be done until the arrival of the fire department.
During this time, windows were being broken and furniture hastily thrown out and attempt to stop the terror of the terror stricken people was useless. The open doors and broken windows with the strong gale blowing fanned the fire into a roaring furnace.
Appeals were made to me by adjoining property owners for some protection to their property, but I was powerless. All that could be done was to await the arrival of the fire department and watch the fire increase and jump to the adjoining building to the east.
The house to the west was smoking from the ground to the top of the roof on account of the enormous heat. Women and children ran about terrorized with fright, thinking that their homes would also be destroyed.
From the time the alarm was sounded until the arrival of the first companies to the fire was 14 minutes. It must be remembered that the members of these companies are not to blame or at fault for not arriving any sooner. During this time the members of these companies were using all of their physical powers to get to the fire, but being handicapped by the bad condition of the streets, wading in mud eight inches deep in places and drawing a hose cart weighing approximately 1500 pounds with the equipment.
When the men arrived at the fire after pulling their carts through this mud, they were physically exhausted, and then to turn and lay from 200 to 500 feet of hose and fight a hot, stubborn blaze and breathe in a lot of heavy, pungent smoke in their exhausted lungs was a severe test.
Now Mr. Taxpayer, please give the following your worthy attention:
With modern fire apparatus, this run could be made in four minutes.
The men would not have been in an exhausted condition to fight the fire and could do more efficient work.
The fire could not have gained much headway, thereby reducing the heavy individual loss and damage to the property.
A line from a chemical engine could at that time extinguished the fire.
The total amount of damage would not have amounted to more than $500, had a piece of apparatus been there at that time, whereas the loss and damage amounted to approximately $7,000.
The cost of responding to fire alarms would be reduced to a minimum.
85% of the members of the department are young men who own no property and risk their lives and limbs to protect your property.
The fire of John Ramus on Laverack Avenue, resulting in a heavy loss was due to low water pressure. At the time that the fire was discovered, if adequate water pressure could have been obtained, the loss would not have amounted to more than $1,500, but under the conditions that existed then, and which still exist, the loss reached about $5,000.
The Cleveland House fire, when discovered, could have been extinguished with a much smaller loss if adequate water pressure had prevailed.
The N.Y.C. & H.R.R. office building, totaling a loss of $165,000, would not have exceeded $2,000 had there been adequate pressure and apparatus in the village for the first company to arrive with.
The $32,000 schoolhouse (Depew High School) fire would not have amounted to more than $8,000 to $10,000 had there been adequate apparatus and water pressure.
The Goldstein & Kupchenski fire would not have amounted to more than $900 or $1,000 had there been apparatus, which the men could have responded with promptly.
It must be remembered that when these men who fight your fires have to get out of bed and dress in a hurry and run to their fire houses, wait for teams, or draw by hand to the fire, that precious time is lost, minutes which cost dollars, and at times lives.
The recommendations, which have been made for improved apparatus:
Triple Combination Auto Motor Truck, Pump, Chemical & Hose. The truck to have a 900 G.P.M. pump, 40 gallon chemical tank, 250 Feet of chemical hose, carry 1200 feet of 2 ½ “ standard fire hose, ladders and other necessary equipment. The truck to be placed in the Gould Avenue firehouse.
One Double Combination Auto Motor Truck, Chemical and Hose. This truck to have a 40-gallon chemical tank, 250 feet of chemical hose, carry 1200 feet of 2 ½ “ standard fire hose, ladders and other necessary equipment. This truck to be placed in the Ellicott Road firehouse.
I have the assurance of twenty-one who are members of the department that will volunteer to sleep in these firehouses at night if this apparatus is installed. With this equipment, this village will have good, prompt service at any night alarms of fire at small cost. Chief Carlson’s plea apparently fell on deaf ears at this time.
Not only did Chief Carlson lead the fight for motorized fire apparatus but he also was critical of the water supply provided by the Depew & Lake Erie Water Company and in early January 1914, the question of adequate water pressure for the south side of Depew has been the subject to a great deal of controversy between the fire department and the Depew & Lake Erie Water Company for the past several years. The firemen have complained bitterly in the past in regard to the condition of the pressure served, especially at the low pressure given at the beginning of fires. In an endeavor to remedy this condition of affairs, the Water Company have laid a 12” main connecting the line from B&D Boulevard to the 10” line at the corner of Transit Road and Ellicott Road. The Company was also laying a 12” main from the line at Gould Avenue to the main at Terrace Boulevard. Whether the laying of these new pipes will help the situation materially remains to be seen, Fire Chief Carlson claims that the real cause of the low pressure on the south side lines is the fact that the pressure is choked by a pipe of reduced size in the mains between the north side and the south side.
On January 19, 1914, two homes on “Swede Hill,” on Wendel Street, just south of the Depew Village line were destroyed by fire. The alarm was sounded at about 11:45. The Aetnas and Hooks responded. The Aetna’s cart was hauled to the scene of the fire by Warther’s Motor Delivery Car, which luckily happened to be passing near the Gould Avenue firehouse at the time.
It was found that the hose on the Aetna cart was insufficient to reach the fire, which was located about 2400 feet from the nearest hydrant at Broadway and Penora Street. The motor cart made another quick trip to the Aetna’s quarters and secured more hose, which still lacked sufficient length to reach the fire. Another trip was made to the Cayuga’s house for additional hose. The water pressure proved to be good considering the long line of hose, and the firemen succeeded in saving the adjoining buildings, although the two homes were doomed to destruction.
A representative of the Aetna Hose Company stated that the motorcar took less than 20 minutes in hauling the hose cart to the fire and returning with two sets of hose.
On Sunday morning February 8, 1914, at about 5:40 A.M., fire was discovered in the large barn on Penora Street owned by Frank Lewandowski and located at the rear of his bakery. There was some delay in sending in the alarm, as the fire alarm box in the locality was out of order.
By the time the firemen arrived, the fire had gained considerable headway and the large barn with its contents of two automobiles, buggies, wagons and workshop, were doomed to destruction. The fire had also spread to other buildings. The firemen were unable to get the blaze under control owing to the lack of apparatus. However, they worked very industriously in spite of this handicap. The Fire Chief sent in a general alarm calling out all of the Depew Companies.
The Aetnas and Hooks arrived on the ground in good season, but the other companies experienced considerable trouble in getting teams to haul their carts. The members of Hose Company No. 1 drew their cart by hand. The firemen suffered severely on account of the intense cold, the ice forming all over their rubber coats and boots.
The fire showed the utility of having motor apparatus. The Aetna Hose Company could only lay two lines of hose, having to make additional trips back to the firehouse for more hose. With auto fire apparatus, 2400 feet of hose can be carried, and the necessity of waiting for teams obviated.
An exhibition of a Thomas Triple Combination Motor Fire Apparatus was held at St. James Street and Muskingum Street but no action was taken after the demonstration.
In 1914, Fire Chief J.Fred Pettys addressed the village board in regards to better fire protection on Sawyer Avenue stating that he had seen members of the Aetna Hose Company and the property owners on Sawyer Avenue and that he thought a chemical engine was the proper firefighting apparatus to get, and he also said that Mr. Sanford of the American Car and Foundry Company would build a fire house on Sawyer Avenue for the fire department free of charge.
An article appeared in the July 30, 1914 issue of the Depew Herald, written by a “Citizen” which read that the recent agitation to remove the firehouse from its present location to Sawyer Avenue and Penora Street suggests many thoughts on the question of fire protection and fire prevention.
It is only natural that our citizens should expect the best protection attainable for the sums that are annually expended, both in maintenance of the fire fighting apparatus and in the special taxation in the form of premiums for fire insurance.
It is a well known fact that the annual fire loss in this country is about $250,000,000 or about $2.50 for each man, woman and child. It is also an established fact that 50% of this waste is preventable, so if we take this amount, or $1,25 per capita, how long would it take to pay for a new fire hall for this village, over the sum which could be obtainable for the present structure?
It is conceded that the Sawyer Avenue district is the most congested in the village and that the proper location of the fire fighting facilities would tend to avert many fires in this section of the village.
Another excellent plan would be the installation of a chemical cart to be located at the north end of Penora Street with the chemical apparatus located at this point; many fires could be subdued before the arrival of the regular fire apparatus. The installation of a chemical cart would also mean some reduction in the fire insurance rates.
Toward the end of July 1914, the village board moved that the purchasing committee purchase the chemical engine that was suggested by Fire Chief Pettys.
On October 1st, it was reported in the Herald that the new chemical engine has arrived and has been tested. It works fine and should prove to be a big help for first aid in the Sawyer Avenue and adjoining districts, which are congested and are in need of an apparatus of this character. The chemical will be stored in the Gould Avenue firehouse until the contemplated quarters for its storage can be erected.
In August 1914, the Depew Hose Company Number One requested and was authorized to prepare specifications and secure estimates for a new hose wagon.
Having prepared a set of specifications and a price for a new hose wagon, the committee presented the information to the village board that referred the Hose Company Number One committee to meet with the fire and water committee to select a hose wagon. On August 28th, the two committees met and selected a hose wagon to be built by the Neal Company.
The hose and ladder wagon was delivered to the village in early December at a cost of $525. Following the delivery of the new hose wagon, Hose Company Number One held a smoker in celebration on January 7, 1915 and invited the village board to attend.
At the April 19, 1915 meeting, Trustee Thomas McHugh brought up the matter of the chemical cart and house, which had been ordered to be placed at Sawyer Avenue and Penora Street about two years ago. Fire Chief Pettys reported that $500 had been appropriated for the chemical and house.
Trustee Elwin Rowley stated that a house 14 by 16 foot could be built for $175. However Trustee McHugh advocated the erection of a building with a meeting room in the rear so that businessmen and citizens could meet there evenings; that the patrolman could be left in charge at night, and that he did not want a cheap building, and that the place should have toilet facilities and gas connections. He said that if the chemical had been on Sawyer Avenue, a number of lives would have been saved in the past, and cited the Schultz fire, which had occurred a number of years ago, in 1908, in which a number of lives had been sacrificed.
Trustee Dr. Daniel Stratton asked; do I understand that the businessmen want to organize a company? Trustee McHugh replied that the cart and building was intended for emergency purposes and would not conflict with the fire department. In response to a question from Trustee Stratton, village attorney O’Hart said that the village had every right to build the house.
Trustee Rowley stated that he was not opposing it, but that he thought that the building was to be used for storing the cart. He went on to say that the last two fires in the area would have been put out without damage if they had the chemical at hand.
Trustee McHugh ended the discussion by stating that, “the village will be burned down some night if something was not done.”
The problem of providing adequate fire protection services continued to plague the village board. In early May, Frank J. Stock one of the local teamsters who often hauled the fire equipment of the Cayuga Hose Company complained to the village board in regard to the amount allowed for hauling the Cayuga’s cart at night, alleging that $7.00 was allowed for hauling other company’s apparatus to fires. It developed during the discussion that $5.00 for day and $7.00 for night was allowed for hauling the Hook & Ladder cart and the Aetna wagon, and $3.00 for day and $5.00 for night was allowed for hauling the Cayuga and Central Hose Company No. 4 carts.
Trustee Dr. Daniel Stratton said that these rates were set about three years ago and it was also brought to question what constituted a day alarm and also a night alarm.
After further discussion, the matter was referred to the fire and water committee and with the assistance of the Fire Chief, was instructed to draw up a schedule of rates.
At the following meeting on May 17th, a schedule of rates for hauling fire apparatus was adopted which paid a $2.00 premium for the teamster to haul the Aetna and Hook and Ladder rigs to both day and night alarms. A day alarm was one, which occurred between 6A.M. and 6 P.M., and a night alarm was one, which occurred between 6P.M. and 6 A.M.
Each company was given the power to enter into an agreement with one man, owning team or other suitable conveyance, to respond to all alarms. Provision was made so that if the contracting individual arrived at the firehouse within 10 minutes after the alarm was sounded and the rig was already gone, then that individual was allowed a lesser amount for showing up.
In June 1915, the village board again came under pressure from the community concerned with the Fire Department’s response to fire alarms in the Sawyer Avenue section of the village. The fire chief and the fire wardens were requested to find a suitable place on Sawyer Avenue for the storage of a chemical cart until such time that the village could build a house for the same. Again nothing was done. However, during the construction of the various streets on the south side of the village, the Gould Coupler Company allowed the Fire Department to store a hose wagon in a shed on the Gould property. The Gould Coupler Company was paid a rental fee of $41.36 for the use of their property.
On Monday December 6, 1915, a Penora Street dwelling owned by the Tomaskiewicz family was partially destroyed by fire. The building was badly gutted and the loss amounted to about $1500. The firemen were handicapped in getting to the scene of the fire by being held up for about 10 minutes by an Erie Railroad train at the Penora Street crossing.