FIRE COMPANY HISTORY
Near the turn of the century citizens of small communities, like Colden, became concerned about the effects of unfriendly fire. They initiated organizations designed to fill the need for fire protection in rural communities. It was October 5, 1905 that such an organization was formed here in Colden. The organization was incorporated on June 12, 1907 and became known as the Colden Volunteer Fire Company. At incorporation twenty-six men were listed as charter members, with descendents of these members still residing in the community and present members of the fire company.
Our first piece of apparatus, a hand pumper, was acquired from the East Aurora Fire Company for $100.00. Then as now, funds were made available in the traditional method of public subscription. In 1911 the fire hall, located on the site of the present-day Colden Town Hall, housed the following: a pumper, pails, hoses, bowling alley, and dance floor. Social activities in Colden at this time centered around the Fire Company with membership exceeding 85 during this time period.
The first fire alarm was installed on the original hall in 1912, it consisted of a large bell to call firemen to service. It is the same bell that today is found at the entrance to the modern Colden Fire Hall.
To keep step with improvements in apparatus technology, the Company borrowed $750.00 from Farmers Bank in Springville in 1913 to purchase a chemical fire truck.
In 1916 Colden Fire Company joined the Southwestern Volunteer Fire Association with $2 in dues paid.
A 1922 fire report indicates that at 5AM the alarm sounded for a fire at Frenche’s store. The building was destroyed. West Falls and
Orchard Park Fire Companies arrived to help protect exposures and saved the center of the community. This report was the first record of Mutual Aid activity in the area, this practice has increased and is an instrumental part of most emergencies here in southern Erie County.
In 1926 a 1926 Larrabee Fire Engine was purchased with a 500 GPM Hale Pump and one thousand feet of hose. The total cost of this equipment was $5,500. While this truck could make it’s way over the hills in Colden, it did so very slowly and did not carry water as today’s pumper/tankers do.
In 1932 a siren was purchased for $323.40 and installed on what is today known as the Colden Mill.
In the 1930’s plans were drawn for a new Station #1 to be located across the street from the hall of the time, next to Cazenovia Creek. Near the end of the Great Depression Colden managed to have this hall built through the Works Progress Administration. This hall included one truck bay, a downstairs meeting room and an upstairs gymnasium that was used for basketball games, dances, and other social events. In the 1940’s two additional truck bays were built on the creek side.
1940— Fire Protection District between the Town of Colden and the company was established to provide fire protection for the town. This same year the truck shown to the right was purchased and was capable of making quicker responses over the hills of Colden.
1948— On February 2, 1948, on a Friday evening, the newly formed First Aid Squad held their first meeting.
1953 — Membership reached 75 members and a waiting list began for those interested in joining fire company.
1955—Two-way radios were installed in the vehicles.
1959—Colden’s Mini Pumper, “Stilts”, was purchased for fighting field and forest fires. While field and forest fires are not prominent today, during this time period several major fires could occur in a single year. A decrease in farming and the end of the steam locomotives on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad decreased the occurrences.
1959—Boston/Colden Fire Council Formed
1959—Scott-Air Packs: Technology that allowed for interior fire attack.
1959—Station #2 built at the corner of Center St. and Partridge Rd. to provides quicker response times to the eastern part of town.
1967 —First ambulance purchased
1967— The Colden Fire District organized to collect taxes to provide apparatus, equipment, and facilities for the Colden Fire Company to serve the community. The Colden Fire District includes the entire Town of Colden except for a portion in the northwest corner that is part of the Aurora-Colden Fire District #6 that is served by the West Falls Fire Company.
1977– New Ambulance purchased on a Dodge chassis.
1980- Company celebrates 75 years of service with a Carnival held at Kummer Town Park with a parade and a commemorative was booklet published.
1987– New Ambulance purchased on Ford chassis.
1988— A hydrant system was installed in the hamlet to provide water to Supervisor Avenue and placement of a hydrant in front of Colden Station #1. A new medium rescue truck, #7, was purchased by the fire district. This truck has the capability of refilling SCBA’s on scene and carries automobile extrication equipment.
1991—Land was donated by Alan Gutekunst at the corner of Rt. 240 and Gutekunst Rd. to build a modern fire station in the future
1992– New Colden engine #2, a KME with a 1,000 gallon tank and a 1,250 gallon per minute pump, was purchased
1994— The Colden Fire Company moves into the new fire hall at the corner of Rt. 240 and Gutekunst Rd. This modern hall contains 4 truck bays, a meeting room, banquet hall, kitchen, and office space. The old fire hall in the hamlet is turned over to the Town of Colden to be used as a Senior Citizen and Community Center. Colden Station #2 is turned over to the Colden Fire District; this building was owned by the town up to this time.
1997– New Engine #3 purchased: KME with a 1,000 gallon tank and 1,250 gallon per minute pump.
2000- A new ambulance #8 was purchased on Ford chassis. The First Aid Squad is certified by New York State to perform paramedic level treatment. New Colden #1 purchased, Ferarra 1000 gallon tank, 1250 gallon per minute pump, this truck is placed at Center Street station
2001— Colden Fire Company mobilized to provide relief in NYC following the September 11th terrorist attach on the World Trade Center. EMT’s Dan Corby, Kathy Corby, and Jody Feidt spent 2 days assisting the New York City Fire Department.
2002— The Colden Fire Company receives a grant from Erie County to purchase a Thermal Imaging Camera for use in identifying fire extensions and conducting rescues in heavy smoke conditions.
2005— The Colden Fire Company celebrates its 100th anniversary.
2005— The Colden Fire District opens the new Station #2 complex on Center St. The previous truck bays are converted into Colden Fire District offices, storage, and additional meeting hall for fire company and community use.
Memorable Events in Company History
Frantz Rd Farmhouse Fire
Near blizzard conditions with a temperature of -10°F and 50 mph winds. The Trapich family just returned home from Florida and parked their motor home on the west side of the house. The heater in the motor home caught fire engulfing the motor home which, with the high winds, pushed the flames onto the home. American LaFrance Colden Engine #1 responded with chained wheels behind a town plow truck. With these conditions the house was destroyed in nearly 15 minutes.
Bell Star Fire
A overheated exhaust fan caught fire and quickly spread into a dry hemlock barn building. Colden responded with East Concord, Boston, Holland, and West Falls as mutual aid. Colden Engine #1 set up at a nearby pond as a water supply. A draft was established and water was supplied to the scene. Suddenly, Colden #1 lost prime for no reason and had to be pulled out of the supply line. By the time a second engine was put in and ready to supply water, the fire was out of control. The intense heat melted the lights and some paint on trucks at the scene. The building was a complete loss.
Early morning fire, with Colden and surrounding mutual aid companies responding. As Colden #1 approached the railroad crossing in Glenwood, visibility was zero. Dense air kept heavy smoke low. The building was full of smoke and heavy fire conditions. During salvage, the body of a deceased tenant was found in the basement.
Robbery with Head-On Crash on Berg’s Curve
Following a bank robbery of several thousand dollars in the southern tier, the suspects, being pursued by an Erie County Sheriffs patrol car, crashed on Berg’s curve (near Post Office). The robbery suspects had hit a Springville family head on and fled into the creek and nearby wooded area. Following the arrest of the suspects, Colden Fire Company assisted searching for the loot and weapons. It was soon found under a rock ledge near the creek.
Colden Highway Department
On a cold winter day in 1970, a natural gas leak took place in the office of the highway department. The entire structure was filled with gas that later ignited resulting in an explosion that destroyed the building and all equipment, except for a single plow truck parked outside. The current highway garage is built on the site of the former structure. No one was injured.