|Fire Company History compiled by the 50th Anniversary Committee
Skeptics said it was impractical if not
impossible. The Great Depression was in its seventh year,unemployment
was high, money was scarce. Yet a handful of men proposed to start
a volunteer fire company.
“SO, IT WAS DONE”
None had firefighting experience. They
had no equipment, no land, no building. Even more forbidding was
the knowledge that they would be responsible for the entire costs
of start-up and operation.
Still, with courage and bravado, hope and determination and
countless hours of hard work, they accomplished their goal.
This is their story and a partial account of the company they
founded. While credit is given to some, it is impossible to
list the hundreds of volunteers who have given so much of their
time and efforts to their community.
THE LAKE SHORE STORY
THE EARLY YEARS – 1937 – 1946
The Lake Shore Volunteer Fire Company had its genesis during
a pinochle game in late 1936 at a meeting of the Lake Shore Goodfellows
Club, an informal organization which met weekly in homes of members
to play cards, discuss the events of the day and have refreshments.
Much of the discussion that evening was of a fire that had recently
destroyed the Old Heidelberg Club, a nightclub on Route 5, near
Walbridge Drive. Neighboring fire departments had responded but
time and distance was too great for them to save the building.
One of the card players suggested, perhaps half-jokingly, “Maybe
we should start our own fire company.”
The remark started a general discussion. This led to formation
of a committee to determine what would be involved. In early 1937,
after writing many letters and taking with personnel of established
fire units, they reported that, yes, it was possible but would
require a lot of money, work and most importantly, support of
That support, they said, might be forthcoming if the proposed
fire company could provide enough protection to the 300 homes
and businesses in the district to win a higher insurance rating.
The area had a rural classification and insurance premiums were
Consensus of the Goodfellows was to take the plunge. Member Wayland
W. Williams, an attorney, offered to prepare an application for
a charter. With surprising speed, the New York Secretary of State
issued the charter April 27, 1937. It was closed the following
September with 43 charter members.
A 15-member board of directors was appointed to administer business
until an election to be held the following year. F. Herman Filsinger
was chosen as president, Joseph Puglisi as vice president, Frank
D. wolf as secretary and William V. Cole as treasurer. They held
their first meeting June 11th, 1937.
The small treasury of the Goodfellows Club was turned over to
the fledging company. A dinner and dance at the Alhambra Club
netted almost $575. With such wealth at their disposal, the board
began a quest for equipment and quarters.
At the first meeting of the company membership September 3rd,
1937, they reported that through the efforts of Clyde W. Slater
the Buffalo-Mount Vernon Development Company was “heartily
in favor” of the fire company and had offered to donate
a 200- by-300 plot on Rogers Road west of the railroad right-of-way.
The property contained an abandoned 14-by-30 foot tool shed.
The directors told the company that the Buffalo Fire Department
had offered to sell a 1919 Pierce Arrow chemical truck for $75
and recommended the purchase. The truck was no more than a mobile
chemical fire extinguisher. It had no pump – but it did
have a siren and a red light. Members concurred – the company
had made its first expenditure.
A committee, headed by member William R. Doll, a local home builder,
was appointed to study the best way of utilizing the offered Rogers
Road property and building.
The board of directors, on September 10, 1937, appointed William
A. (Bud) Miller as chief, T. M. Dodds as financial secretary,
and August Bindeman as sergeant-at-arms. A committee was named
to draft a constitution, another to recommend what additional
equipment was needed and ways and means of obtaining it.
The company accepted the donated property September 17, 1937 and
asked Mr. Doll to give an estimate on the costs of putting the
building into condition such that it could be used as a garage
and meeting hall. He later reported that a heating system, lavatory
and primary kitchen facilities could be installed for about $1500
but only if the members would do all the work.
A series of dinners, dances and card parties were held to raise
money but it soon became obvious that another funding source would
have to be found.
The answer of course was to borrow the money but the barely-established
company, with no certain income, had no credit. In October, 1937,
peoples Bank of Hamburg agreed to lend $1,500 if members would
sign a note as individual guarantors.
Thirty-five of the then 64 members agreed to take the risk. When
debt was discharged, the note was framed and hung in a place of
Work was going full tilt on the building. Men worked every weekday
night, Saturday afternoons and all day Sundays. A used furnace
and ductwork was installed, a concrete floor was poured, plumbing
and a toilet were added, the roof was patched and a 145–foot-long
ditch was dug for a sewer line. A lean-to was built for the lone
piece of fire fighting apparatus.
Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Belinson of the Ricaby Corporation
and a member of the Eggertsville Hose Company, Eggertsville sold
the company a used signal system, that included a siren, 24 alarm
boxes and a decoder (a hole punching device) for $300.00. The
siren was mounted on poles donated by New York Telephone Company,
members strung the wire from alarm boxes located at strategic
points to the hall.
Arrangements were made with State Police at the Athol Springs
substation to receive telephone alarms of fire. A trooper would
then drive to the hall and activate the siren. Later, a relay
was installed to allow the siren to be blown from the substation.
Furniture for the meeting room was donated by members. Each was
assessed twenty-five cents per meeting for refreshments. A ping-pong
table was bought for $6 – members paid ten cents for three
Company meetings were long and often tumultuous. Those speaking
without recognition from the chairman were fined ten cents. Secretary
Wolf noted in the minutes on one occasion, “The meeting
was finally adjourned to the relief of everyone - - especially
The goal for 1938 was to earn a Class C insurance rating for the
district that would mean as much as a 40 percent reduction in
insurance premiums. The higher rating was possible only if the
company had a pumper. The burning question as how to fund an expenditure
that could run as high as $7,000.
A proposal was adopted to ask all district property owners to
pledge or donate to the company the savings they would realize
from reduced premiums for the next three years. It was estimated
that this would raise about $12,500 if there was 100 percent response.
Results were not overwhelming. Less than one half of the needed
amount was raised. A dilemma – without the pledges, they
couldn't’t buy the pumper; without the pumper, the pledges
So it was back to Peoples Bank, which was still owed $1,000 on
the original note. They were greeted without enthusiasm by bank
officials, who after negotiations, agreed to lend $7,000 if ten
members would furnish financial statements totaling $20,000 and
act as note guarantors.
The offer was greeted with a lack of response at the next company
meeting. Many were already co-signers on the first note. Others
were reluctant to disclose their assets – or lack of them.
The outlook was bleak. It appeared that the fire company, less
than one year old, would die in infancy.
The bank then modified its terms. It would accept a chattel mortgage
on the new truck and any number of co-signers, not necessarily
firemen, with a total of $10,000 in assets. With the help of the
taxpayer associations, 61 firemen and residents stepped forward
to meet the terms.
With money in the bank, the first action was to retire the first
note. The second was to buy a spanking-new 1938 750 GPM Buffalo
Fire Appliance Company pumper at a cost of $5,805.
Training was the next order of business and in late spring, Angola
Chief Landau volunteered to teach a ten week firefighting course
to line and administrative officers. After their lessons which
were interrupted by chief Landau’s appendectomy, the graduates
taught the general membership.
August Bindeman, Superintendent of Mails at the Buffalo Post office,
was elected company president in the first annual election held
in January of 1938. An installation of officers, with each paying
his own expenses, was the social highlight of the season.
The first Field Days, held in June of that year, was marred by
rain but still turned a profit of $276. It featured a firemen’s
parade, a bathing beauty contest, a children’s grotesque
parade and games of chance. An outing in October brought in another
William E. Hull and William A. (Bud) Miller, delegates to the
1938 Southwestern Firemen’s Association convention, came
back to the company with a report of a novel concept of first
aid units within volunteer fire companies. The membership immediately
authorized a unit on the recommendation of Mr. hull. William F.
(Babe) Miller was appointed captain of the squad.
With acquisition of a new pumper and chronic motor ills of the
Pierce Arrow chemical truck, a decision was reached to retire
the old vehicle. Efforts to sell it were unsuccessful, then member
Ben Pinzel offered the company a Cord sedan in good running condition.
He, William F. (Babe) Miller and Elek D. Csont transferred the
body of the Pierce Arrow to the chassis of the Cord. It was used
as a hose truck and utility vehicle.
The year of 1939 was a time for belt tightening as the company
struggled to meet its financial obligations. More than once, the
phrase “bills to be paid when funds are available”
appeared in the company minutes. More often than not, a hat was
passed around the meeting room to obtain the necessary funds.
Many times returning with an excess which was immediately added
to the treasury.
It rained again that year during Field Days but there was a profit
of $493. A raffle to the Montreal World Fair netted another $362.
The company put on the first of many minstrel or variety shows
using firemen as talent and produced by member Henry Poecking.
It was successful-both in entertainment and as a fundraiser.
People’s Bank, recognizing the company’s problems,
reduced the interest rate on the mortgage one percent –
to five percent.
After the Nazi war machine rolled over Europe in 1940, firemen
began to enter the armed services. By war’s end, sixteen-one
quarter of the company membership had seen service. One of them
– sergeant Warren Longbine, died October 28, 1944, of wounds
suffered in action a month earlier in France.
On the home front, the entire company served as fire wardens during
air raid tests. A watch was placed on the fire hall with each
member taking his turn staying there overnight. An auxiliary pumper
was loaned to the company by the Office of Civil Defense. George
Weppner, a company member and an official of the Pepsi Cola Bottling
Company of Buffalo, gave the company a used Chevrolet panel truck
in 1942. it served as the first Lake Shore first aid and rescue
In mid-1941, William E. Hull was appointed chairman of a committee
to explore various forms of fire tax districts with the aim of
finding permanent basis of financing the company. A year later,
the Hamburg Town Board agreed to a contract in which the company
would provide fire protection for the district for consideration
of $2,867 per year for five years beginning January 1, 1943. The
tax rate was 65 cents per $1000 of assessed evaluation.
The contract was amended in 1945 to provide a small additional
payment for coverage of the Town Protection District-an area not
included in any company’s district.
Later that year, town officials proposed that the Lake Shore Protection
District be abolished and incorporated into the town protection
district. Angry firemen and residents packed the next Town Board
meeting and the proposal was hastily shelved.
Young men, mostly sons of firemen, had long been coming to fire
scenes, looking longingly at the equipment and offering to help.
In 1945, President Karl Wagner proposed to put this energy to
work in the form of a junior fire company.
The company agreed, the organization was authorized and William
F. (Babe) Miller and Elek D. Csont were named as supervisors.
They held their first meeting in May 1946, with 22 charter members
President Wagner’s prediction that juniors would graduate
to the senior company was proven correct. Of the many who have
become active firemen, six have become chiefs – Carl Wappman,
Howard Wertz, Ronald Schumacher, a charter member of the junior
company, Christopher Wilson, Michael J. Gates and Lawrence Januchowski
III. Our junior firemen also have advanced to the position as
chief in other departments. James Hustead, Jr. has served as chief
of the Hamburg Volunteer Fire department and Richard Bamberg as
chief of the East Aurora Fire Department.
With an assured source of income from the town and the company’s
existence affirmed, due to William E. Hull’s efforts, thoughts
turned to a permanent fire station. After months of discussion,
six county-owned lots at the corner of Route 5 and Clifton parkway
were bought for a total of $800. Mr. Doll was authorized to prepare
plans and specifications for a two-story 26 x 74 colonial-type-architecture
building with three equipment bays and an upstairs hall for banquets
and recreation. Member G. Benjamin Werner pushed for a large upstairs
hall to be used for basketball.
The property was subsequently traded to the Buffalo-Mount Vernon
Development Company for a tract on Route 5 near Rogers Road that
was three times as large.
Meanwhile, the Pierce Arrow-Cord hybrid truck, having outlived
its usefulness and being without garage space, was sold for $50.
The company replaced the old Pepsi truck with a 1941 Ford panel
truck bought from the American Red cross for $568. One-third of
the company income was used to buy Victory bonds in anticipation
of the new fire hall.
Mr. Doll completed the building plans, they were approved and
materials were stockpiled. But there was to be an unexpected delay.
THE BUILDING YEARS
1947 – 1956
The wail of a fire siren cut through the crisp winter air of
December 27, 1947. it was not a call for assistance-rather it
was a call for celebration. After a 20-month legal battle, former
State Supreme Court Justice Parton Swift, acting as referee, cleared
the way for the fire company to proceed with the plan to build
a new station near the intersection of Lake Shore Road and Rogers
The decision stemmed from litigation began in 1946 when several
members of the Mount Vernon Civic Association challenged the legality
of the sale of the property to the company. They claimed it had
been designated as a park and sought an injunction barring the
The plaintiffs contended that when they bought their building
lots, the Buffalo-Mount Vernon Development Company had represented
the property as a public park and it had been used as such for
many years. They said the development company and its predecessor,
the Rickaby Corporation, had claimed tax exemption for the tract
for more than twenty years and had asked that it be turned to
the tax rolls in 1944 for the sole purpose of commercial exploitation.
They insisted that their quarrel was with the realty company,
not the fire company, but the company joined in the lawsuit as
a vitally interested party.
Judge Swift ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to establish
any rights, title or interests in the so-called park area. The
disputed land had never been plotted on any map from which a park
dedication could be claimed, nor was any mention of any park privileges
in deeds held by plaintiffs, he said. The lawsuit in estimation,
is believed to have cost the fire company and residents upwards
Space at the original fire station had become critical during
the protracted litigation. Early in 1947, the company had accepted
a 1000-gallon tank truck from the Town of Hamburg with no place
to store it. Under the direction of Mr. Doll. A temporary lean-to
was built on the East side of the fire station by volunteer labor
and $100 in materials. It was then discovered that the dirt floor
would not support the weight of the tanker and it was getting
stuck while in quarters. Gravel fill solved the problem.
Money was an ever present concern. Almost $2,000 was raise by
a variety show, the annual Field Days brought in a similar amount
and several dinners and dances added to the treasury. Even the
new tank truck was put to profitable use by hauling water to district
residents who had no water lines at five dollars a load.
When other fire companies who shared the use of the truck with
Lake Shore objected, the practice was discontinued and the pumper
was substituted at a fee of three dollars a load.
By the end of 1947, the 1938 note at the Peoples Bank had been
paid, the company was debt-free and there was almost $2,000 in
the bank toward the cost of the new fire hall.
Plans for building began as soon as the legal battle ended. Mr.
Doll was awarded a contract to erect the new facility at an estimated
cost of $40,000. A $45,000 mortgage was negotiated with Marine
Trust Co. and Peoples Bank at an interest rate of 4.5 percent
payable in twenty years.
Foundations were poured in the Spring even though title for the
property was not transferred until August. Mr. Doll donated the
cornerstone. There was trouble found in obtaining the building
permit because there were no building codes for constructing fire
Despite the building activities, fire-fighting training was not
neglected. A six-week training school was established by the Hamburg
Town Fire Council and the company required that all new members
complete the course before their acceptance as full active fire-fighters.
Ceremonies for the first graduating class were held in Hamburg
Semi-annual beginning and advanced training classes were held
for members of the rescue unit.
By February 1949, the new building was about of seventy percent
finished. Members were asked to work at least one evening per
week with Tuesday being the official work nights. The meeting
in the yet-unfinished hall was held April 1st and the building
was dedicated in formal ceremonies July 4th, 1949 at the Field
Days. The community contributed outstanding support for the Fire
The Locksley Park Taxpayers Association donated tables and chairs
worth $500 for the new club room, a fund-raising drive netted
$1,200, Saturday square dances were well patronized. A resident
donated five telephone poles to mount the sirens. The 1949 Field
Days showed a profit of $7,045.
Membership in the company zoomed. By mid-1949, there were 94 active
members-causing concern that the organization was becoming unwieldy.
The company limited future membership to 75, with new applications
being placed on associate rolls until openings occurred. Junior
Firemen, upon reaching the age of 18 who wished to join the active
company, were placed at the top of the waiting list.
A 1940 Buick ambulance was purchased for $650 in June, 1950, replacing
the delivery truck that had been used on first aid calls. The
need for the vehicle was apparent in the report given by Captain
Charles Mead at the June 16 meeting that first aid had been administered
to thirty persons in the preceding two weeks including six road
accidents. He admonished squad members to brush up on their first
aid as the “busy” season was ahead.
The years also saw the end of the call box system of turning in
alarms of fire or emergencies. Telephone wires were installed
by members to the homes of members; Robert F. Hull, George Sweetland,
and Clayton Sweetland which would permit them to receive calls
and to activate the siren on the hall.
The siren lines were normal closed circuits and a line break would
activate the siren which blew until someone could rush to the
hall to shut it off. Meanwhile firemen had no way of knowing what
had happened and hurried to the hall to respond to a non-existent
Getrude Hull, Delores Sweetland and Phyllis Sweetland, the “Telephone
girls”, worked out an arrangement whereby one of them was
at home at all times to answer calls.
With the limit on membership, discussion began in late 1950 on
the formation of an Exempt Firemen’s organization to encourage
older and less active firemen to relinquish their active status
to make room for younger men. The constitution was amended to
authorize the organization in March, 1951, and the organization
was formed the following August with Gerard Strasser as its first
One of the founders of the company was honored by the SouthWestern
Association of Volunteer Firemen in 1950 when William E. Hull
was elected president of the organization. He presided through
the annual convention held in Lancaster in 1951.
Lake Shore has been proud to have other members serve as officers
of various Firematic organizations such as the Hamburg Town Fire
Council, Hamburg Town Fire Chief’s association., Erie County
Volunteer Firemen’s Association, Southwestern Association
and others. Some of these men were Michael J. Gates, K. Andrew
Harris, Robert F. Hull, Lamont Lewis, Norman McNamara, George
Plumer and Karl Wagner. Several others have served as chairmen
and committeemen of these organizations.
Mr. William E. Hull, more than any other person, is responsible
for establishing the company as a member-owned corporation.
In April, 1952, land and buildings of the fire company were appraised
at $101,700-far beyond the dreams of the founders only fifteen
years before. The mortgage had been reduced to about $30,000 and
the time had come to think of buying more fire fighting apparatus.
The old fire station was sold to the sportsmen’s club for
$4,250 and the money was placed in a special account for the purchase
of an American LaFrance 750 GPM open cab pumper for $15,250. Comptroller
Walter Greapentrog, legendary for his skill as a bargainer, managed
to get the final cost reduced $750.00
With additional equipment, more garaging area was needed. In January,
1953, the company voted to spend $99 to draw plans for a 20 x
35 foot one-bay addition on the north side of the building.
Shanks Construction Company was awarded a contract for the project
and in March for the cost of $7,400 and by January, 1954, the
work was completed. By this time, credit was firmly established
and there was no difficulty in borrowing $7,500 from Peoples Bank
at an interest rate of four percent.
In April, 1954, the fire-fighting skills of the company were put
to the test at a fire that destroyed the Alhambra, a former night
club in Athol Springs that was being used as a skating rink. Although
28 men turned out for the call, many members living in the south
end of the district complained that they could not hear the siren
on the hall. This led to installation of auxiliary sirens in the
Locksley Park and Cloverbank areas.
When the company obtained the property for the hall, a small lot
between the building site and Rogers Road. was not included in
the transfer. The company had steadfastly refused to buy the lot,
which was too small for building, and in midyear, the owner, Biscaro
Construction Co., donated the land to the company.
Property was gain added in 1956 when member, Carl Soby donated
a small tract north of Berrick Creek.
An aggressive fire prevention program had been inaugurated in
the preceding year by chairman Donald B. Hull and in 1954, the
company won the prestigious L.H. Dehlinger Trophy, awarded by
the SouthWestern Firemen’s association for outstanding prevention
programs. The win was repeated in 1957 and 1958 and Lake Shore
retired the trophy.
In 1954, maintenance costs on the old Buick ambulance had become
prohibitive. Replacement was sorely needed, but as usual, there
was a question for paying for a new vehicle. The only feasible
solution was to conduct a subscription drive among the district
homes and businesses. Each was asked to give $10 per family. In
return they were promised free emergency first aid and transportation.
The fund drive raised $9,639. In February, 1955, the company ordered
its first new ambulance – a Superior Company body on a Cadillac
chassis at a cost of $7,600.
On its first run to Our Lady of Victory Hospital, the new rig
collided with a car on Ridge Road. There was $700 in damage to
the ambulance and a lawsuit – which the company lost.
YEARS OF GROWTH
1957 – 1987
A building boom exploded in the Lake Shore area in the early
1950’s. Sparsely-populated Mount Vernon area rapidly filled
with homes. Three hundred pre-war structures had grown to more
To meet the community needs, the Company in 1958 voted to buy
a new 1,000 GPM American LaFrance pumper, It was delivered in
February 1959 and served faithfully for 23 years until replacement
in 1982 with a state-of-the-art 1,500 GPM American LaFrance. The
old truck was donated to the Erie County Department of Fire Safety
to be used for training purposes and spent its last years at the
The open cab 1953 also operated for 23 years and gave way in 1976
to a Young 1250 GPM pumper.
The 1938 Buffalo Fire Appliance pumper, once the pride of the
struggling company, was sold to a Grand Island resident for $500.
Reportedly, he used it for years to draft water from the Niagara
River to water his lawn.
Lake Shore became a three-pumper company in 1971 when it accepted
delivery of a 1250 GPM American LaFrance.
During the early years, water supply was a constant cause for
concern. There were few hydrants on the west side of the railroad
tracks and none on the east side. Firefighters were forced to
draft water from wells, streams, and ponds to make long lay-ins
with multiple truck relays. A map showing location of wells was
a valuable tool.
Since this was a town-wide problem, the Town Board in 1946 bought
four Dodge tank trucks, each carrying 1,000 gallons of water.
One was stationed at the Lake Shore hall. The “tankers”
responded to calls wherever needed in the township under a mutual
In the early 1960’s it was ruled that the Town could not
legally buy tank trucks from the general fund, but the Town Board
agreed to add $1,000 per year to the Protection District payment
if the Company agreed to buy its own tank truck. Accordingly,
a 1,200 gallon Maday-built truck was purchased and delivery was
accepted in 1962.
Even after the primary district was nearly fully hydranted in
1958, the tank truck was needed as an immediate water source while
lay-ins were made to hydrants.
The tanker was equipped with a winch that has been used more than
once to rescue pumpers that had become stuck in the mud.
In 1986, the Company approved the replacement of the 25 year old
tank truck with a 2,000 gallon tanker built by Fire-Tec of Hamburg.
An equipment and rescue truck purchased in 1967 has proven its
worth many times over. It carries equipment that cannot be conveniently
stored on the ambulance and pumpers; such as generators and auto
accident extrication equipment, plus dozens of items needed for
efficient operation. It has space to carry back-up personnel and
responds to all fire and emergency calls.
The first aid unit has come far since the days of the old Pepsi
Cola truck. The number of calls for help has increased each year
since the squad was formed. In 1986, it answered 500 calls. There
has never been a charge to district residents, but they have responded
generously with donations to help offset the cost of new equipment
and ongoing operating and maintenance expenses.
Several have shown their appreciation by remembering the company
in their wills. Others have specified that donations be made to
the fire company in lieu of flowers at their funerals.
The 1955 ambulance was replaced in 1964 and followed by others
in 1972, 1979 and 1985. Each was better equipped than its predecessor.
Since the early 1970’s the Company had provided a car for
the Chief to facilitate his immediate response to a fire or emergency
to assess the situation, place equipment for best operation and
act as a command center. The vehicle is normally replaced every
Costs have skyrocketed over the years, A new pumper cost $15,500
in 1953. The Company’s newest pumper, bought in 1982, had
a price tag of $121,133.
And the 1962 tank truck, which cost $13,806, was replaced in 1987
with one that wore a price tag of $107,000.
The need was eliminated for the “Telephone Girls”,
who served the Company unselfishly; with inauguration of a system
in which the hall siren was activated by a dispatcher in Hamburg
Village Hall. In 1965 the Company purchased tone-activated radio
monitors for members homes, followed in 1984 by tone-activated
pagers, added to the efficiency of the alerting process.
Changes in the physical facilities have also been made frequently
over the years – some major, some minor.
Soon after the south bay was added, an auxiliary kitchen was constructed
an the upstairs hall to make the facility more attractive to potential
renters. The work was done by Albert Cherry, Sr., a Company member
doing business as “Mr. Fix-it-rite”.
Prior to 1962, the meeting room was small and cramped, forcing
some to sit on a window seat in a bay window that projected from
the north wall. A sizeable portion of the meeting room was taken
up by the horseshoe bar on the west side.
Member Harry Schneider, a professional architect, drew up plans
for a clubroom addition to the north side of the hall. It was
built by Hines and Kirst Construction Company for $34, 778.
As the company acquired more equipment, more space was needed
in the engine room. Chief Ray Hummel, a construction foreman,
headed an expansion committee to determine needs. Harry Schneider
was again called on to prepare plans and specifications for a
two bay addition on the south side of the building. Henter Construction
Company won the contract with a bid of $28,418.
When it was discovered in 1964 that Berrick Creek was eroding
the east side of the playground, Patrick L. Keefe took matters
in hand. He organized a work detail which hand carried large stones
to stabilize the bank on the Company-side…problem solved.
Under “not-such-a-good-idea” in 1974, the Hamburg
Town Board was persuaded to pay for dredging of the lake on the
north property line. The lake was drained, but there was no way
to stop water flowing in from upstream.
The lake bed was turned into a mudflat for most of the summer
to the consternation of many. Town “Fathers” were
even more upset when it was learned that the cost was several
times the budgeted amount.
The Company parking lot, often resembling a tank trap, was resurfaced
and paved. A crew volunteered to seal the blacktop labored all
day under a scorching July sun until a neighbor informed them
that the sealer, which had a viscosity of cement, had to be diluted
before it was spread.
The lot has been twice extended since toward the old tennis courts,
but with professional labor.
In 1976, a pole-barn-type pavilion was built by firemen under
the supervision of Bruce Thompson and Raymond Hummel, giving the
Company a first class picnic and outing facility.
The largest construction project since the Rogers Station has
been the Amsdell Satellite Station, completed in 1983.
As early as 1961, there had been discussion of a second station
by members who foresaw the increased building in the eastern portion
of the district, separated from the primary protection district
by the railroad lines.
Nothing was done until 1979 when Robert Zerby, Sr. and Bruce Thompson
were asked to conduct a feasibility study and make recommendations.
As a result, the Company purchased 5.5 acres at the corner of
Southwestern Blvd. and Amsdell Road, contracted with Paul Riefler
to prepare plans and awarded a construction contract to Kirst
Construction of Hamburg.
The total cost of land and station was slightly less than $300,000,
well within estimates. Presently plans are being made for a major
renovation of the Rogers Station.
Fire and rescue training have kept pace with ever-increasing equipment
sophistication. Each member must attend a 13 week state run school
of firefighting essentials and an annual Company School. There
are literally dozens of optional state courses, seminars by private
industry and training sessions. Major fires are videotaped and
First aid techniques have also greatly improved since the days
when chief stock in trade were splints and sympathy. Every in-coming
member must complete an approved source, which may be a 60-hour
Red cross or a 101-hour Emergency Medical Technician Course. The
ambulance carries life-sustaining equipment and the crew is in
direct radio contact with receiving hospitals.
The Company, an all male organization for 44 years, admitted its
first female member, Kim Koch in 1981. By mid 1987, it had five
A parade unit was formed in 1938 with members buying their own
uniforms, has constantly distinguished itself with coordination
and discipline. The Grand Trophy, won at the Western Association
Convention in 1968, 1991 and 1996 and the SouthWestern Firemen’s
Convention in 1973, are among its many awards.
Field Days were discontinued in 1966 because of rowdyism. In their
place, an annual Community Day is held in September. Its purpose
is to give the area residents an opportunity to inspect equipment,
become acquainted with Company Operations, enjoy food and refreshments,
and renew acquaintances.
Other annual events include the Christmas parties for firefighter’s
children and families, a family picnic, and the Company Stag …
a day for fun and feast.
First Aid contests were a notable item in the Firemen’s
Conventions throughout the state. Lake Shore formed a team and
entered its first contest at the 1955 SouthWestern convention
Encouraged by taking first place trophy in the contest, Lake Shore
entered teams in many convention contests for some years. The
name “Lake Shore” became well known for its first
aid and rescue activities.
From the time Kenneth hull organized a baseball team in the early
1940’s, competitive sports have been an important facet
of recreation. A Company softball team joined the Erie County
Volunteer Firemen’s League in 1955 and ten years later it
won the county championship.
During the 1960’s a six-team bowling league was formed by
company members. They bowled weekly at St. Francis and later at
Over the years, there has been competition in basketball, volleyball,
waterball, horseshoes, tug-of-war, pool and even a tournament
in pinochle – the game that started the Fire Company a half
Most of Lake Shore’s first firemen are gone now. Of the
43 charter members, there are only seven known survivors:
Elek D. Csont
William F. (Babe) Miller
Yet they left a legacy … that with dreams, dedication and
determination, nothing is impossible. And a challenge …
to make the next 50 years as fruitful as the first.
We salute those men who dared to dream, and to them this account
is gratefully dedicated.