About us

 

 

 

 

The Ellicott Creek Volunteer Fire Co. had its beginnings in the latter part of 1943 and early 1944, when members of the community decided there was a need for a fire department to provide service for the northwest portion of the Town of Amherst. 

The initial organizational meeting was held on October 16th, 1944 at District 16, located on North Ellicott Creek Road. The first order of business was the selection of the name for the organization. The name Ellicott Creek Auxiliary Fire Company Branch 1 was chosen. The election of officers followed:

Fire Chief John Biehler

Financial Secretary Charles Harmon

Corresponding Secretary Robert Clarke

Custodian Harold Short

Publicity Robert Clarke

The first meeting and installation of officers was held on January 15th, 1945. The following officers were installed:

 President Robert Clarke

Vice President Ed Williams Sr.

Treasurer L. Erhman

Secretary Joseph Grom

Chief Alois Lehner

Assistant Chief Glen Kramer

Foreman Harold Short

 

Since the new fire company had neither funds nor equipment, the members met in the basement of Ted Lonien’s tavern to plan for ways and means to raise money. Several card parties and raffles were held.  In the fall of 1945, Alosi Lehner and Ed Williams Sr. purchased approximately 2-1/2 acres of land and donated it to the fire company. This site, near the corner of South Ellicott Creed Road and Niagara Falls Blvd., was to be the home of the fire company until 1986, when a new structure was built across the street. Construction of the original fire hall began in the fall of 1945. At the same time, a 1920 American LaFrance Hook and Ladder truck was purchased from Buffalo Fire Apparatus for $190 and stored in Ed Williams garage. While it was being stored, members modified the truck and outfitted it as a 600 gallon per minute pumper. This truck remained in service until 1957. The construction of the firehall continued during the spring and summer of 1946, and was completed enough to hold the first Annual Halloween Party in November 1946. About this time, on November 20th, 1946 the Ellicott Creek Volunteer Fire Co. was incorporated with boundaries established to provide fire protection to residents of both the towns of Amherst and Tonawanda. Prior to the purchase of a war-surplus Civil Defense five horsepower siren from the City of Buffalo for $180 in the spring of 1946, fireman were alerted to calls for assistance by means of telephone calls relayed by their wives.

 

The first fire fought by the new fire company was on Wednesday, March 29th 1945, when a garage and tool shed belonging to the Rev. Julius Szabo, assistant pastor at St. Elizabeth Church, burned.  On March 22nd, 1947 shortly after the original firehall was completed, an American Red Cross Emergency First Aid Station was established to provide First Aid services to area residents. One of the area's largest fires was fought by members of the Ellicott Creek Vol. Fire Co., when a 60-year old landmark, Bucher's Hotel, located at Old Falls Blvd. and Tonawanda Creeek Road, was destroyed in a fire on January 2th, 1951.

 

In 1952, a 1935 Mack 500 gallon per minute pumper was acquired from North Chili Fire Company, Rochester, and was utilized as a tournament truck during the 70’s.

In 1954, the original building was enlarged to more than twice its original size.

1957 a new Ward LaFrance 500 gallon per minutes Pumper was purchased to supplement the existing apparatus.

 

Another major fire occurred in 1957, when a bus garage and warehouse were destroyed. The building belonged to one of our founding members, Ed Williams Sr. the fire was fought by five companies for six hours in the bitter cold of January.

  

In 1962, a 500 gallon per minute Brockway Pumper was acquired from the Eggertsville Hose Company, which increased the number of Pumpers to 3.

 In the spring of 1963, a new First Aid and Emergency Equipment truck was purchased to meet the ever increasing needs for first aid and other services required by the community. This is the Step-Van referred to earlier which was purchased by trading stamps.

In 1966, our Fire Company purchased its fire home receivers, a much more efficient way to notify our members of request for emergency services.

In 1969, under the direction of Grant Pitorff, we purchased a new 1200 GPM Seagraves Pumper.

In 1971, under the direction of Chief Willard Kling Sr, another 1200 GPM Seagraves Pumper was purchased, allowing us to “retire” the Brockway Pumper. A major project was undertaken by the members of the Waterball Competition Team, when the Brockway Pumper was converted to a Waterball/Parade Truck and promptly numbers ½. This vehicle transported us to many competitions throughout Western New York, and helped create many fond memories for the “young guys” of the fire company.

On August 23rd, 1971 the fire company responded to what was dispatched as a “vehicle fire” in Tranquility Estates, known now as Raintree Island. To the firefighters surprise, not only was there a vehicle on fire, but an arsonist had started four different apartment buildings, under various stages of construction, on fire. Mutual Aid was given to us by the Brighton and Ellwood Fire Companies, but the buildings were totally destroyed.

It was becoming increasingly apparent that due to the amount of requests for first aid and the need to transport to area hospitals, a vehicle would be needed to perform this very important task for the community we serve.

In 1972, under the direction of Chief Frank Bailey, we purchased a Chevrolet Van, which was outfitted as an ambulance to transport patients.

1974, a controversial issue developed over the Fire Protection District Boundaries. Eventually after many meetings with Town of Amherst, and the support of area residents, the decision was made to leave the present boundaries intact.

Due to the amount of grass, leaf and nuisance fires, it was decided not to have to tie up a first out pumper to respond to these types of calls. In 1974, the direction of Chief Frank Bailey, a Chevrolet Pickup truck was purchased and outfitted with a 100 GPM pump, to handle off road and nuisance fires. This concept of a “mini-pumper” was the first of its kind in the area, and today the job is being handled by a 1991 mini-pumper.

 

In 1976, the fire Company purchased its first Chief’s vehicle, a 1976 Chevrolet Station Wagon. Also, in 1976, our first piece of aerial equipment was purchased from the Cleveland Hill Fire Department. A 1959 Seagraves 75 foot Ladder would soon be handling any situations needing a ladder, including the newly built hi-rise on Peppertree Drive, and mutual aid to neighboring fire departments requiring assistance.

 In the late 1970’s, it became apparent that a new flood control channel was going to be built, which would occupy some of the original land the fire company was built on. Plans were undertaken to purchase new property in the area to house our new firehall. A new, enlarged structure was built across the street in 1986, which is the present home of the Ellicott Creek Vol. Fire Company.

In January 1977, we were hit with the famous Blizzard of ’77. Many of our members spent the entire time standing-by at the fire hall. Emergency runs were made to rescue stranded motorists, deliver medical supplies and handle first aid calls during the blizzard.

 

In 1977, a spectacular fire destroyed one of the area’s landmarks, the Ellicott Creek Park Casio, located on Ellicott Creek Island. Another major fire was fought in the park when the Ellicott Creek Park maintenance building was destroyed in 1978.

In 1978, under the direction of Chief John Vitthuhn, 1500 GPM American LaFrance Top-Mount Pumper was purchased. This was one of the largest capacity and first top-mount pumpers in the area. With the new American LaFrance Pumper places in service, it was time to retire the 1954 Ward LaFrance. Bill Dunker, a former chief of our department, had retired and moved to Rolling Greens, Florida. He discovered the area fire department was in need of a reliable pumper. The Ward LaFrance was sold to the Rolling Greens Volunteer Fire Department and served another 12 years of service to that community.

 

The 80’s brought an ever increasing need to provide our residents with emergency first aid care and transportation. In 1980, under the direction of Chief Dave DeMeester, a new modular ambulance was purchased while on display at the New York State Fire Chiefs Convention.  This increased our ability to transport patients by having two vehicles equipped and capable of handling this function.

In April of 1980, another major structure fire occurred at Raintree Island. Under the direction of Chief Dave DeMeester, 15 people were evacuated or rescued, and the damage to the structure topped $250,000. Mutual aid was provided to us by the Brighton Fire Department.

It was also apparent the 75-foot Ladder Truck should be replaced due to its age and limited capabilities. A truck committee, under the direction of Chief Dave DeMeester, researched a replacement, and a 100-foot Pierce Aerial Platform was ordered.

In 1982, a spectacular fire destroyed Gary’s Pool Supply on Niagara Falls Boulevard.

In October 1982, under the direction of Chief Mike Moore, the Arial Platform was delivered and placed in service.

In November of 1983, the fire company was involved in one of the area’s most tragic activities: to help locate a missing girl. The body of the murdered girl was found in the newly created flood control channel by members of our department.

In 1983 a committee was formed to investigate replacing or repairing our pumpers. It was decided to refurbish the 1978 American LaFrance, and replace the two Seagraves pumpers in the near future. In 1984 the American LaFrance pumper was refurbished.

During this time, the Town of Amherst and all other fire departments were faced with an ever increasing need to provide the best care and treatment available for residents. An extensive study was done, and after a year of research, a contract to provide Advanced Life Support Services was signed with a commercial ambulance service. In 1984, while Chief Mike Moore was President of the Amherst Fire Chiefs Association, a contract was signed between the Town of Amherst and a commercial ambulance service, supplementing the fire service.

It was during this time that extensive planning was under way for the construction of the new building.  Hundreds and hundreds of hours were spent planning and developing the new home of the fire company. The New Building Committee consisted of Chairman Bob Kinnenburg, President Fred Fischer, Chairman of the Board Maurice DeMeester, Chief Mike Moore, and many, many other members who contributed their time and efforts.

On February 16th, 1986 the new firehall was completed and we moved across the street. In 1986, under the direction of Chief Mike Moore, a new 1500 GPM Pierce Pumper was purchased. The two Seagraves Pumpers were sold to the Center City, Alabama Fire Department.

In 1987, under the direction of Chief Gerry Pomplun, a new Salisbury Heavy Rescue vehicle was ordered, and placed in service in 1988. The new vehicle included a hydraulic rescue tool and has been used utilized many, many times in extrication victims from auto accidents, thereby preventing further injuries to the victims.

In September 1988, under the direction of Chief Gerry Pomplun, an arson fire destroyed the St. Christopher Church. Damage was assessed at more than one million dollars. Five area fire departments provided mutual aid during this disaster.

In 1989, under the direction of Chief Dan DeMeester, another modular ambulance was purchased to replace the 1972 van which was used to transport patients.

In 1990, plans were under way to initiate the Firemen’s Service Award Program. Past Chief Mike Moore was appointed Service Award Chairman.  In 1990 the Water Rescue Team was formed.  In 1991, under the direction of Chief Dan DeMeester another Pierce 1500 GPM Pumper was ordered and placed in service in 1992 and the 1978 American LaFrance Pumper was sold to the Brownsville, Wisconsin Fire Department. Also, the mini-pumper was replaced by a new 1991 Chevrolet Custom 250 GPM mini-pumper.

In 1992, after a town wide referendum was passed, the Service Award Program was initiated. In August of 1992, the Fire Company responded to a haz-mat spill on the Youngman Highway which took six hours to contain and control.

In 1993, a new training area and storage building was constructed to the rear of the fire company property.  

In 1994, under the direction of Chief Russ Stith, we responded to another haz-mat incident in the Audubon Industrial Park, which took fire hours to contain and control.

Also in 1994, a Heart Start 3000 Unit was purchased to help the fire company render life saving technology during those precious first minutes which a victim goes into cardiac arrest. Our first “save” occurred in November, when an unresponsive woman was revived.

In 1996 an addition was added to the building to provide much needed office and storage space, along with a fitness center for our member’s usage. In 1996, under the direction of Chief Paul Schara, planning was begun on refurbishing Ladder 6.

As you can see from the above descriptions, the members of our fire company have purchased equipment necessary to provide essential, professional service to our community through the years. Although the total figures are not available, thousand and thousands of hours have been spent in training throughout the years, along with the countless man hours devoted to responding to emergency calls.

We should also mention another important part of our fire company, our Ladies Auxiliary. We want the members of the Ladies Auxiliary to know we have appreciated their help and support throughout the years.    

In the beginning, the fire company depended on donations and revenues raised at its Annual Field Days and other fund raising activates.  Our original members were quite ingenious at fund raising activates. At one point in time, a Step-Van First Aid/Equipment truck was purchased with the donations of 2,223,200 green stamps.

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

Charter Members of the Ellicott Creek Vol. Fire Company

John BiehlerCarlton Brickell
Harold BuickeStanley Bula
Robert ClarkeLois Denato
Joseph GromCharles Harmon
Sobastion InsalacoWilliam Johnson
Glenn KramerAlois Lehner
Theodore LonienAlexander McLeod
Michael MillerClarence Schaumberg
Harry ShortGeorge Smith
Walter SmithWalter Webster
Edward Williams Sr. 

 

 

Past Fire Chiefs

Alois Lehner Edward Williams
Clarence SchambergFrancis Robison 
William Dunker Willard Kling Sr. 
Norbert Gegenfurtner Grant Pittorf 
Frank BaileyJohn Vitthuhn 
Dave DeMeester Mike Moore 
Gerald PomplunDan DeMeester
Russ StithPaul Schara
Joe MayBruce Culligan
Pete CalandraMike Parker
Joe Osika 

 

 

Past Presidents

Robert ClarkJoe Grom
Harold ChaseCharles Harman
Edmund DoeringThomas Schneider
Glen KramerSteve Valint
Norbert GegenfurtnerTheodore  Lonien
John H. YeagerMartin McGinley
Thomas MarshallJohn Moore
Edward GrenanD Richard Schmitt 
William Weber Sr.WIllard Kling Jr.
Fredrick F. Fischer Paul Dusel
James VitthuhnRIchard Eggleston 
Robert McGinleyPaul Schara
Bruce CulliganMichael Collins
Florian (Matty) MatuszewskiBrian Wildrick (Current)
  
  
  
  
  
  

 

 

 

 

 

    

 


© 2022 Ellicott Creek Volunteer Fire Company