On September 9, 1901, the village board of trustees was petitioned asking that a firehouse be built on Broadway for use of the Cayuga Hose Company. The petition was received and filed and referred to a committee of the whole. (The entire village board.)
When Central Hose Company Number Four was organized in 1902, the company was also furnished with a hose cart which was initially housed in a barn on Crane Street owned by Stanislaus Gramza for the sum of $5.00 per year. In 1909, Frank Schultz was paid the sum of $18 for housing the Number Four’s cart in his barn on Burlington Avenue for one year.
On March 2, 1903, a petition from Central Hose Company Number Four, asking that the village raise a sum, not to exceed $1000 for the purpose of purchasing a suitable lot, and erecting thereon a firehouse for the use of Central Hose Company Number Four, was presented and read. The village board at this meeting decided to put forth proposition Number One, in the upcoming village election, “ The question of raising by taxes upon the taxable property of the residents of said village, the sum of $1000 for the purpose of purchasing a suitable lot and erecting thereon a firehouse for Central Hose Company Number Four”.
In the March 5th issue of the Depew Herald, a notice appeared stating that there would be a public meeting of the Citizen’s Party at the Union Hall, corner of Penora and St.James Street on Thursday evening to discuss the issues of the upcoming village election. Village taxpayers were invited to present and give their views in regard to the proposition involving raising money for the purchase of land on which to erect a firehouse for Central Hose Company and also for the purpose of purchasing and installing a fire alarm system in the village of Depew.
The issue of purchasing and installing a fire alarm system met with success; however, the proposition to spend monies for a lot and firehouse for the Number Fours did not fare as well. In February 1905, a petition was again presented to the village board asking that a firehouse be built for the company but the petition was received and filed.
On February 18, 1907, the village board received a petition from the Cayuga Hose Company, asking that the board submit a proposition to the voters at the next annual election for raising $2500 for the purpose of acquiring title by purchase of the necessary land, and erecting thereon a firehouse for use of the Cayuga Hose Company of the Village Of Depew.
At this same meeting, George Schneller spoke on behalf of the Cayuga Hose Company. He stated that, “ The company decided that they would not want a tower for drying hose, as they could dry hose satisfactorily on ladders, and that $2500 would be sufficient.
Trustee Benjamin H. Eden moved and seconded by Trustee Elmer J. Nash, to receive the petition and the request ordered granted. Following the receipt of the petition, the village clerk was instructed to notify the petitioners for firehouses to meet with the building committee of the village board and to see if they could agree upon the sites for the proposed firehouses.
At the next meeting of the board of trustees, Trustee Robert Hutchinson reported that the members of the board, excepting Trustees William Keefe and William Palmer and Village Clerk John C. Glade, who were absent, met last Thursday evening and selected the site at the northwest corner of Broadway and River Street for the proposed Cayuga Hose Company firehouse. He stated that, “ The members of the company were satisfied with the site selected.” The site for the Central Hose Company was chosen on the west side of Harlan Street south of Burlington Avenue.
In June of 1908, a petition was again received by the village board, signed by twenty-five qualified electors, requesting that a proposition be submitted to the electors of the village of Depew, to raise the sum of $3500 for the purpose of acquiring the title by purchase to necessary lands and erecting thereon two certain firehouses, one for the use of Cayuga Hose Company and one for Central Hose Company Number Four, in equal portions to each company.
The proposition as presented by petitioners in June was ordered by the village board to be submitted to the village taxpayers for their approval or rejection of the proposition at a special election to be held on July 1, 1908. In the special election, there were 69 votes cast in favor of the proposition, and 47 were recorded against it. The sum of $400 was to be expended on procuring each site and $1400 was allocated for the construction of each building.
Following the approval of the proposition by a fair majority of the village taxpayers, the board proceeded with the purchase of the lots as specified. By mid-October, village attorney S.J. O’Hart reported to the board that he had closed the deal for the lot on Broadway but was unable to close the deal on the Harlan Street site as one of the owners was residing in Saint Louis. The deal for the Harlan Street property was finally completed by mid-December.
In early December, Henry Ullman and Michael K. Dobbins appeared before the board of trustees representing the Cayuga’s and inquired as to the progress being made toward the construction of the firehouses. Mr. Ullman presented a sketch for the proposed building for the Cayuga’s.
J. C. Glade presented a design for the two firehouses to the village board for approval on December 21, 1908. The design called for a structure twenty feet by thirty-six feet with a hose room on the lower floor and meeting and a bathroom on the second floor. The buildings were sparse in their design, as over the next several years additions and major renovations were required to bring the buildings up to standard. When both companies were provided with newer and heavier apparatus, the buildings had to be re-inforced to hold the added weight and new, wider doors had to be installed to accommodate the wider vehicles.
The Cayuga Hose Company moved into their new quarters on April 1, 1909, and the Central Hose Company moved in at about the same time.
The four firehouses would continue to serve the needs of the Depew Fire Department over the next fifty-two years. The buildings were high maintenance as through the year, the village board was constantly upgrading, repairing, painting, remodeling, and redecorating the buildings at the request of the various companies. By the mid-nineteen fifties, the buildings were getting quite rundown and the truck bays were too small to accommodate the newer and larger apparatus.
Additionally, when the firehouses were first sited and built, they were located near the centers of the population of the village. Another factor was that the village was divided by the various railroad tracks traversing the village, which often caused delays in responding to alarms of fire. Since the early apparatus was either hand-drawn or pulled by a horse or teams of horses, the apparatus had to be located near the population centers.