Lewiston Fire Company No. 2
Recognizing the need for fire protection in the Colonial Village area, a handful of men met on lawns and in one another’s garages discussing the possibility of organizing a volunteer fire company.
This paved the way to meetings in the old wood school house #9, which was located in the district, and ultimately led to the formation of Lewiston Fire Co. No. 2 in the year 1942.
Through the advice and guidance of men like Howard Townsend, William Straussburg, Alex Allen, Norman Walker, Percy Morgan, and many others, the fire company was established along with members from the Colonial Village Men’s Club.
The first officers elected on May 12, 1942 were as follows:
President Albert Hurst
Vice President Lawrence Fischer
Secretary Arthur Barber
Treasurer Clifford Peterson
Chief Merle Bentley
Asst. Chief Clifford Kehrle /succeeded by Carl Johnson
Captain Edward Timm
Lieutenant John Montgomery
Trustee James Pass
Trustee Louis Vitch
Trustee Stephen Cannaby
Sgt. At Arms Malcom Royer
On July 15, 1942, a contract was signed with Samuel Craig to lease land on Saunders Settlement Road where a building could be erected.
July found the men attending neighboring field days and also the Niagara County Volunteer Firemen’s Association meetings.
The first fire truck and equipment was purchased from the Cayasler Manufacturing Co. The cost of the vehicle was $500.00. It was housed in Chief Bentley’s garage on Garlow Road.
August 9, 1942 was the date of the first clam bake and more than one went home with a full stomach.
August 19, 1942, a contract was awarded to the Johnson Building Co. to erect a frame building 20’ x 40’ at a cost of $650.00 on the land leased from Mr. Craig. This would provide housing for the equipment as well as a meeting place.
Parties, raffles, and donations from the citizens in the area helped to bring in the much needed revenue. Financial support was also received from the Ladies Auxiliary which had organized in September of 1942.
Those were days when beer was sold for $4.75 a quarter and coal was $13.65 a ton. Lucky was the fireman when it was his turn to fix the furnace if he followed a man that understood how to bank a coal fire.
Being the baby fire company in Niagara County, we were presented the Milk Bottle at a party in our station by Frontier Volunteer Fire Co. on February 20, 1943. It was reported to have been a party to remember.
The need for toilet facilities forced the company to make a capital investment of $35.00 in the latest 2 Holer model. Heavy snows and frigid temperatures often discouraged its use.
A tank truck was purchased in 1943 to furnish an additional supply of water to fight fires. The price was $600.00. Notes were sold to the citizens in the area to finance the purchase.
At a special meeting on May 24, 1943, the company voted to purchase land 200’ x 1469’ at a price of $1,600. This was the property that was under lease.
By July 15, 1943, the company had a full membership of 60 active firemen and a waiting list was established.
The fire station grew in popularity and was now being used by other organizations. The Red Cross, rural neighbors, Colonial Village Men’s Club, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to name a few.
The fire company was able to stop renting chairs after the Ladies Auxiliary purchased enough for the hall.
During 1944 the membership was changed from 60 to 100 men. A well was drilled free of charge by William Straussburg and our water carrying days were finally over.
In 1945 the tanker was rebuilt into a modern piece of fire fighting equipment at a cost of $3,000.
In 1946, a living blood bank was established by the Niagara County Volunteer Fireman’s Association. The members were typed and furnished blood in the program. This was continued until a national organization, the Red Cross, took over the blood bank.
In 1947, the existing building was moved to a central location on the property. The building was enlarged, a kitchen was added, toilet facilities were added, and oil heat was installed. The days of shoveling coal were over!
In 1948, the clubroom was established to help provide additional revenue to meet increased operating expenses.
1949 brought the purchase of an additional piece of firefighting apparatus. A high pressure fog truck was placed into service to improve and better fire protection. The cost of the truck and its equipment was $12,203.
In response to repeated requests for fire protection in the Escarpment Drive area, station #2 was established on Upper Mountain Road. A fire truck was placed into service there on November 15, 1949 and it was housed in a garage owned by Mr. Glennie.
With financial support from the Ladies Auxiliary, an inhalator was purchased and put into service in December of 1950.
In 1951, another 14’ x 60’ addition was put on the existing fire station. A 1000 gallon Segraves pumper was purchased for station #2 with financial assistance from the Escarpment Association. The cost was $450.
In 1952 the decision was made to discontinue the annual field days. The revenue from the field days could no longer be depended upon and they were rained out for the previous two years. House to house canvassing took its place.
Through the efforts of the Niagara County Fire Advisory Board, fire apparatus in Niagara County were equipped with two way radios in June of 1952.
In September 1952, a new building for station #2 on Upper Mountain Road was approved. The building was erected with voluntary labor and the construction cost was $1,347.24.
Also in 1952, fire protection districts were established in the Town of Lewiston.
In 1954, an additional inhalator was purchased for $158.50 and it was put into service at station #2 on Upper Mountain Road.
In 1955, an auxiliary pump was purchased for $344.91. A new International truck chassis was purchased, a new 500 gallon front mount pump, and the tanker was rebuilt into a modern piece of fire fighting apparatus. The total cost was $6,888.83. (Chassis cost $4,180, pump $840, Young Fire Equipment to transfer tank and install pump, $1,387).
In 1956 the Ladies Auxiliary purchased two new Scott Air Packs for the fire company (cost $437.80). Portable generator and lighting equipment purchased (cost $365.00) Siren was also installed.
Garlow Road was paved from Rt. 31 to Upper Mountain Road in 1956. This made it possible to go to fires much faster in that area as that route was usually closed during the winter months.
In 1957 a new Emergency truck was purchased for $2,880. A 40’ x 60’ concrete block addition was put on the existing building. The cost of construction was $17, 019.74. A phone system for fire calls was installed and additional fire equipment purchased.
In 1958 plans were developed for a new truck room addition.
1960 saw the new truck room addition completed and city water was installed in the station.
In 1962, firefighter James Gilliam of Lewiston Fire Co. #2 received the Fireman of the Year award from the Western New York Volunteer Fireman’s Association and also Fireman of the Year from the New York State Fireman’s Association for saving the life of William J. Carrigan.
1962 was also the year that E. Dent Lackey had a ride on an elephant at Mills Brothers Circus on our grounds. Profit from the circus was $442.41.
In 1963 a new 1000 gallon pumper was purchased for $24,162. It was built by Young Fire Equipment on a special International fire truck chassis. The old Seagraves pumper was disposed of.
In 1964 the Ladies Auxiliary donated $500 for coats, boots, and additional fire fighting equipment. Bingo was started to provide a new source of revenue. At a cost of $9,400, a new heating system was installed in the fire station. Long range plans were also formulated for future expansion.
In 1966 special meetings were held regarding the construction of a new fire hall. Gazemore & Grove were selected as architects and a contract was awarded to Virtuoso Building Co. Inc. on September 30th. The cost was $127,500.
In 1967 the Ladies Auxiliary purchased kitchen equipment and drapes for the fire hall at a cost of $9,527.99.
September 17, 1967 was chosen as the best time for the new building dedication and the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the fire company.
In 1987 the fire company purchased a Saulsbury pumper for the sum of $200,000. This engine would replace the deteriorating Ward LaFrance. The engine was given the call sign 8E1.
In 1991, cell phones were purchased for the ambulance and the chief at a cost of $195.00 each. The Town of Lewiston Hazardous Materials Team was also established comprising of members from the four Town of Lewiston fire companies.
1992 saw the sale of the old tanker to Lancaster Speedway for the sum of $750.00.
In 1993, a Horton Ambulance was purchased with a Ford E350 chassis for a cost of $90,000. This ambulance is the second one in the history of the fire department to date.
1994 saw the old ambulance transformed into a vehicle for the Fire Police to operate. Its call sign was 8M5. The vehicle received praise from other fire companies from all over the county. It contained everything from barricades to coffee machines.
The fire company’s first defibrillator was purchased in 1996 for a sum of $7,000. It wasn’t long after it was put into service that it was utilized by the EMTs.
1996 was also the year the summer Olympics were hosted in Atlanta, Georgia. The Olympic torch was carried cross country and during its travels it went by the fire station to the delight of a very large turnout of the membership and citizens of the community.
In 1998 the Young (8E3) was sold to the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission for $5,000. They used the vehicle to wash down the bridge for a couple of years before selling it to a private individual.
Due to lack of attendance, profit, and manpower to work the weekly event, BINGO was abolished in 1998. The fire company now had to look to other avenues for fundraising. Over the next couple of years a lot of establishments that once ran BINGO, were forced to shut down or scale back operations due to tighter smoking regulations enforced by New York State and the opening of a tribal run bingo hall in Ontario, Canada.
In 1999 the fire company, looking to replace the recently sold Young, purchased an engine from R.D. Murray for the sum of $318,000. This engine would not only replace the Young but also the aging rescue truck (8M4). The vehicle was designed to handle everything from structure fires to extrication. The enclosed cab could seat 8 firefighters.
The year 2000 arrived with a full crew of firefighters who were on standby at the fire station. Everyone was unsure as to what would happen when computers had to read the year ending in 00. Critics believed the computers would reset themselves or not recognize the new date and think it was 1900 instead of 2000, causing a major disturbance for everything controlled by computers. As expected, everything turned out fine and there were no reported major incidents.
In 2000 the fire company donated the old rescue truck (8M4) to the Town of Lewiston Haz Mat Department. The vehicle was painted White and stored in the fire station. The vehicle was named Town of Lewiston Haz- Mat 2. The vehicle has since been decommissioned and sold to Military Towing.
After years of hard work, the fire company began receiving federal funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to provide fire protection for the residents of the Tuscarora Indian Reservation in the year 2000. In the first year of funding, the fire company received approximately $60,000.
In 2001, looking to enable the firefighters to better access fires off of the roadway, a Ford E350 pickup truck was purchased along with a skid mounted pump (200 Gal. water tank) that fit into the bed of the truck for $38,196. The skid unit containing the pump would be taking out in the winter and replaced with fire police equipment. The vehicle was given the call sign 8M10. The former fire police vehicle (8M5) was sold to a private individual for $1,000.
With the purchase of the new rescue pumper (8E3), the engine would not fit into the existing truck bays where the other apparatus were housed. It was kept in the annex building. A building committee was established to draw up plans to erect a new truck room.
In 2002, phase 1 of the expansion project began. It entailed moving the annex located to the east of the existing truck room, to the northeast corner of the rear parking lot. Ferro Movers from Lockport were hired and amazingly transported the building via flatbed tractor trailer with no damage sustained to the building. The building committee now had room to work with in designing the new expansion.
2003 brought the purchase of new defibrillator, a Physio-Control Lifepak 12 for $13,247. A Lifepak 500 A.E.D. was included in the price and put into service on 8E3. The fire company’s first thermal imaging camera was also purchased for $16,572. The camera also had the capability to transmit a signal of what it saw in a fire, onto a television screen mounted in the cab of 8E3.
Phase 2 of the expansion project began in 2003 and consisted of erecting a new steel building. The building was built just east of the existing truck bay and consisted of 6 bays facing Rt. 31, and 4 bays in the rear of the building. The building also contained male and female bathrooms, EMS room, chief’s office, and a mezzanine with generous storage area. The building was completed in 2004 and put into service.
Lewiston Fire Co. No. 2 received its first F.E.M.A. grant in 2005. The grant was awarded by the federal government in the amount of $116,000. The money was used to purchase turn out gear for every firefighter, replaced every S.C.B.A. with state of the art models, and the rest went into the purchase of an air compressor station for filling S.C.B.A.
Phase 3 of the expansion project continued in the summer of 2006 when the existing rooftop heat/air conditioning units were removed and replaced on the roof the banquet hall and club room. All work performed was by the membership and was 100% volunteer.
Phase 4 of the expansion projection kicked into high gear in the spring of 2007 when the old truck room was taken apart piece by piece by the membership. The roof was ripped off and a second story was added to the old truck bay. The new truck room and old truck room were now connected as it made for much nicer travels in the winter. Nearly all of the work performed was done by the membership.
In 2008 we added two Chief's vehicles to the fleet, marking the first time that company owned vehicles were made available to our chief officers for fire company business instead of their own personal vehicles. These were Chevy Tahoe's purchased used from Twin Districts Volunteer Fire Company in Erie County.
In 2013 the two previously purchased Tahoes were taken out of service and replaced with a 2013 Ford Explorer Police Interceptor for use by the fire company chief. The purchase price of this vehicle was $32,230.
Also in 2013, a new tanker was ordered, driven largely by former Chief, Joseph Passanese. Lewiston #2 took delivery of this truck in May 2014 and the truck was dedicated in honor of Chief Passanese who passed away from esophageal cancer while serving his second year as chief in 2013. A plaque with Joe's name was placed on the tanker before delivery. The cost of the tanker was $249,900 which included some new fittings and lengths of hose to outfit it.
In 2014 we moved our fleet forward again with the purchase of a 2013 Ford E450 V10 ambulance on a Lifeline chassis, retiring our old 1993 Horton which had served us well. The company went with a "demo model" for this ambulance and it was placed in service in June 2014 as the third ambulance in our history. The cost of this ambulance, including a new Stryker ambulance cot, was $148,975. This was purchased from Gorman Emergency Vehicles.
In 2015, changes to the NYS BLS Protocols brought several new medications and assessment tools into the hands of Lewiston Fire Company No. 2's EMTs. With the new additions, our drug formulary now includes epinephrine auto-injectors, intra-nasal naloxone, low-dose aspirin, nebulized albuterol, and the ability to use a blood glucose monitor to check blood glucose levels. The world of EMS is ever changing and Lewiston Fire Company No 2 is happy to keep stride with the most up-to-date NYS BLS recommendations. The year 2015 also brought arguably one of the biggest changes NYS BLS EMS had seen in a long time, the removal of full spinal immobilization for major trauma patients. Based on several large studies, NYS now practices spinal motion restriction, allowing for a more comfortable transport for our patients, and easier airway maintenance for our EMTs. Lewiston Fire Company No. 2 EMTs went live with this new protocol in September.
In 2016, the Lewiston Fire Company No. 2 experienced a devastating loss with the passing of our brother, Nathan J. Brundage. Nathan was just 19 years old when he passed away after a courageous and inspiring 3-year battle with Grave IV Glioblastoma Multiforme. Nathan joined our ranks as a minor member in 2012 pursuing his life long dream of becoming a firefighter. He served on our executive board in 2014 as a trustee. Nathan inspired and touched the hearts of every member with whom he served. He had a passion for the fire service that is rare and special, his only desire to help others while seeking no reward other than the smile on the faces of those he helped. During his 3-year fight with cancer, his strength, resolve, and bravery never waivered. It was rare to see Nathan without a smile on his face. Lewiston No. 2 will forever remember this amazing young man. We are honored to have been his fire home and his brothers. Nathan had a servant's heart and a warrior's soul and he will never be forgotten.