FIRE, the friend and enemy of human beings, has long concerned the minds of all, Ways of keeping fire under control have made great changes over the years. Here will be an opportunity to trace the progress in Western New York’s Methods of firefighting over the years.
The clanging of church bells, the shouts of wardens to “Throw out your buckets”, the yells of men and the clatter of wheels as volunteers dragged their pumpers and hose carts to a fire gave way to the sound of galloping horses the shrilling steam whistle and ringing of the bell of coal-fired pumpers and ladder trucks as they responded to fires. Today we hear the screeching of sirens and the roar of motors. All of these sounds would stir the blood of people, young and old: Strangely enough fire prevention measures preceded the establishment of fire fighting companies in this country. Peter Stuyvesant, the peg-legged governor of New Amsterdam, in 1647, called for fire prevention measures and a year later appointed fire wardens to enforce the Regulations adopted. Philadelphia claims to be the first to have organized Volunteer firemen: Union Fire Company, organized in 1736. Benjamin Franklin served as one of its Chiefs. George Washington was a member of the Friendship Fire Company of Alexandria Va., organized about 1775. He donated the company’s first pumper.
The first volunteer fire companies in Erie County were organized in the early 1800’s. Buffalo’s first volunteer was formed by a group of 20 men, March 17, 1817, among them were these eminent citizens: Stephen Grosvenor, Gorham Chapin, Nathaniel and William Goodrich, Barent Staats, George Coit and Buffalo’s first Mayor, Ebenezer Johnson. All have been memorialized by having had streets named for them. The members of this Company had no other equipment than leather buckets and it wasn’t until 1824 that a hand operated pump was obtained and the company became known as Cataract Engine Company No. 1.
Williamsville also was one of the first to have an organized company; The Rough and Ready Engine Company, the predecessor of the present Hutchinson Hose Co. Buffalo depended on volunteer fire fighters until 1880 when the city established a paid department.In addition to paid departments in Buffalo and Lackawanna, and a partially paid department in Tonawanda, we now have nearly 100 volunteer fire organizations protecting the residents of Erie County.
Many fire departments in the area have antique apparatus that cannot be exhibited because of lack of space.
Many individuals who have badges, buckets, helmets, pictures and models of old equipment have promised to give or loan them to the Exhibit Center.
The founders of the Firemen’s Memorial Exhibit Center of Western New York, Inc. plan to trace the history of fire fighting in this area with a priceless collection of memorabilia and equipment used from the days of the bucket brigades to the motorized vehicles of the present day.
Our location opened in June of 2005.
We now seek financial support from individuals, Fire Companies, clubs, various other organizations and business to continue this visual history of fire fighting that is now open to people of all ages.
To help Support and Preserve
We ask for your financial support by inviting you to become a member. Membership is open to everyone, firematic and non-firematic. Individual membership is $10.00 per year and organizational membership is $25.00 per year. Contributions and gifts of historic significance are tax deductible.
Receipts will be sent to donors immediately and funds will be deposited in our building Fund.
Checks should be made payable to:
Firemen’s Memorial 4141 Seneca St. West Seneca, New York 14224