Our Rich History
A history of service
On a cold, snowy day in November of 1903, a small contingent of ten devoted and dedicated men discussed a plan to protect their community. Their idea, a Doyle Fire District, was put into finalization on December 7,1903 when Justice Leahy and Justice Forster introduced a resolution to grant the taxpayers of Doyle the right to establish a hydrant and fire district in their area of town. With the passing of the resolution in the summer of 1904, a meeting of the resident taxpayers of Doyle Fire District was held on October 13,1904, for the purpose of electing three fire commissioners and a treasurer for the fire district. The meeting, held in an election booth on William Street near Harlem Road, saw eighteen taxpayers cast their ballots, electing JOHN N. ROHR, J.P. SHERRARD, and JAMES DEVINE as the first fire commissioners of the Doyle Fire District. GOTTLIEB KOCH was elected district treasurer, with J.P. SHERRARD being appointed the first president. The first chief elected by the taxpayers of the Doyle Fire District was ANDREW NAPIERALSKI, a position he would devote the next 25 years of his life to.
On November 2,1904, with fire members John Rohr, Andrew Napieralski, Albert Pratt, Anthony Piekarski and Peter Inda present, along with nine resident taxpayers, a meeting of the taxable inhabitants of the Doyle Fire District was held at the School District #6 school house. The main item on the agenda was the appropriation of $1,235, to be spread over the taxable property of Doyle Fire District. A resolution was also presented to raise an additional $1000 through bonding, with repayment to be in two annual installments of $500. With a unanimous vote by the members in attendance approving the appropriations, the Doyle Fire District was a reality. For the next seven years, the members were devoted to the Doyle community, establishing their quarters in the living rooms of the members’ households. EDWARD JEREZEWSKI was a newly recruited member in the early years and the need for a firehouse was next on the minds of these dedicated individuals. On March 4,1911, at the residence of Chief Andrew Napieralski, on the corner of William and Alaska, a 7:30PM meeting was held to vote upon the erection of a firehouse, at a district cost not to exceed $3000. Seventeen taxpayer residents attended this critical meeting and appropriated the above amount. It was further determined that the $3000 would be raised in six installments of $500 each and authorized the commissioners to bond the district in the amount of $3000.
Doyle Volunteer Hose Company #1 became a reality in its true form on April 3,1911 when the membership petitioned the Cheektowaga Town Board for permission to incorporate under the Membership Corporations Laws of the State of New York. A resolution, moved by Justice Schiesel and Mr. Monin was adopted to allow the incorporation of Doyle Volunteer Hose Company #1. The Town Board felt that it is in the best interest of the Town of Cheektowaga to promote and encourage hose companies to extinguish fires within the Town.
Under the guidance of President JOHN ROHR, a position he held for 18 years, and Chief ANDREW NAPIERALSKI, the company began to address the equipment needs of the community. The first piece of fire fighting equipment consisted of a two-wheel cart, which is still restored at the firehouse. In the summer of 1911, at their monthly meeting, the members tried to come up with a solution to transporting the two-wheel cart to fires. Since it was a very physical task, the members decided to look into the feasibility of purchasing a horse for the fire wagon. At times, there was a procedure to “borrow” a horse if one could be found and the company did make arrangements with a nearby neighbor to provide the horse and driver when needed. The idea to buy a horse would eliminate the problem of “borrowing” the horse at times when the owner was out of town or not home, and the thought of our members “commandeering” a horse would result in lost time going to the fire with adjusting the harness and fittings to the new horse. With all members voicing their opinions, the body voted down the purchasing of a horse because the cost of providing stables and other expenses would be too high for the company and taxpayers to absorb.
The early headquarters of Doyle Hose Company *1 was housed in a wooden building on the corner of William and Alaska Streets. With the new building, the company was able to upgrade its fire equipment with a four-wheeled cart to supplement its current two-wheel “truck”. As the town population began to grow, the need for better for better firefighting equipment was a high priority. On November 2,1922, a meeting of the taxpayers and qualified voters was held at the fire hall to determine a proposition to purchase a new fire truck. Forty-two ballots were cast in a unanimous vote to purchase a new fire truck, not to exceed $8,000. The membership also appropriated $2000 for the installation of a fire alarm system, but defeated a proposition of appropriating $200 for light and upkeep of the fire hall by a vote of 27-15.
For the next fourteen years, the Town of Cheektowaga and Doyle Fire District continued to flourish and grow. 1938 saw the building of a new brick engine room, a two story building that was considered by many to be a modern marvel. The old wood building was retained as a meeting room for its members. With Andrew Napieralski stepping down as Chief after his long tenure, the volunteer fire company was lead by Chiefs Andrew Piacente Sr., George Herman, Stephen Nieswadomy,
Bernard Roskwitalski, and Casimer Piotrowski as they handled the firematic side of the District. On the Presidential side, the handling of Doyle activities was put in the hands of professional gentlemen such as Michael Andrzejewski1 Anthony Peiffer, Edwar4 Jeziewski, Robert Anderson, Joseph Stoeckl, Willard Schum, Frank Zalemski, Edward Palczewski and Thaddeus Klosko as the company survived despite two world wars and many battles which were fought bravely by members of Doyle #1 who saw action in the military.
In 1946, the Fire District purchased a 750 gallon MACK pumper, considered at that time the Cadillac of the industry. With the war now over, and the Doyle community growing at a rapid rate, the company celebrated its 50th anniversary on October 30,1954 with a membership of 104 people, up substantially from its original membership of 10 in 1904. At its 50-year celebration banquet, the company was lead by such dedicated men as:
PRESIDENT Thaddeus C. Klosko
VICE PRESIDENT Stanley Wasielewski
TREASURER Joseph Lornecki
SECRETARY Chester Kociszewski
SGT-AT-ARMS William Rakowski
CHAPLAIN Reverend Frank Wlodarczyk
CHIEF Casimer Piotrowski
1st ASSISTANT Stanley Pajak
2nd ASSISTANT Joseph Stoeckl
3rd ASSISTANT Joseph Urbanski
MARSHALL John Kaminski
MECHANIC Edward Palczewski
COMMISSIONERS Gus Kalwicki (Chairman)
DISTRICT TREASURER Edward Tokasz
DISTRICT SECRETARY John Szydlowski
With more people moving into the Town of Cheektowaga, and the dedication of the volunteer fireman, the need for more space became a major concern. In 1959, the Fire District built a large three bay engine room, along with firemen’s quarters and meeting rooms. With the anticipation of equipping the fire district with the finest fire fighting equipment, the old engine room was renovated and made into a community hall for the people of the Doyle Fire District. The new engine room was equipped with a First Aid Vehicle and in 1960, a 65’ Aerial Ladder Truck. The smaller, more efficient First Aid vehicle made an immediate impact in the fire service. Fire trucks were initially used to cover first aid calls, but they were too large and too costly to operate for first aid calls, thus necessitating the need for the smaller, more efficient rescue vehicle.
In 1968, the Board of Fire Commissioners approved the purchase of a 1250 gallon CRUSADER pumper and, after 11 years of faithful service, the original rescue vehicle was replaced by an INTERNATIONAL FIRST AID truck in 1971. After 32 years of faithful service, a new pumper was purchased to replace our “OLD MACK” pumper.
The increase in the Town of Cheektowaga population, the increase in new homes and businesses and with open space in the Fire District becoming scarce, the need for new equipment was essential in protecting the community. While the number of calls in 1904 was 12, 1978 saw a total of 513 alarms answered by Doyle Hose Company #1 members. This total represented the largest number of calls in the 75 year history of Doyle #1. The new fire equipment did not remain idle, as courses in firefighting techniques and first aid became more state mandated, requiring many hours of training and recertification. The training and new equipment was very much needed in putting out many major fires, such as St. Josaphat’s Church, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Children’s Home in which the caretaker lost his life, the Buffalo Fertilizer Company, the Wieczorek homestead fire and explosion that took the life of brother fireman Henry Ledwon, Eastern Auto Forwarding Company, the Anchor Block explosion in which numerous injuries and deaths occurred, along with the total devastation of the Super Duper Food Market at Harlem and Viola. Special equipment was also needed in putting out the spectacular fires at local lumber yards and auto parts dealers on William Street. Without the updated and advanced equipment, the raging house fire at 55 Fairoaks in 1978, the Forks Lumber Fire in 1979, and the June 4th Mutual Aid Fire at the Idylwoods Apartments would have resulted in much property loss with possible deathly results. When Doyle Hose Company #1 celebrated its 75th anniversary at the Sheraton Inn on April 28th, 1979, all in attendance realized that it had come a long way since our 50th anniversary, and who knew what future had in store. The professionalism of the company was shown the leadership of the devoted men listed below:
PRESIDENT Chester Kociszewski
VICE PRESIDENT Richard Piontek
SECRETARY John Klosko
TREASURER Joseph Cartenuto
SGT-AT-ARMS Thomas Klosko
CHAPLAIN Alexander Valentine
CHIEF Stanley Grzybek
1st ASSISTANT Arthur Darmstedter
2nd ASSISTANT David Janora
3rd ASSISTANT Robert Sprada
MARSHALL Leonard Gruszka
ASST. MARSHALL Frank Pagano
1ST AID CAPTAIN Marshall Faul
MECHANIC Edward Palczewski
FIRE POLICE CAPTAIN Edward Ratajczak
COMMISSIONERS Leonard Andrzejewski (Chairman)
DISTRICT TREAUSRER Edward Tokasz
DISTRICT SECRETARY Chester Kociszewski
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Henry Andrzejewski
Stephen H. Pajak
In May of 1979, the Fire Company dedicated a new pumper, the latest vehicle in the Doyle Fire District arsenal, as they proceeded to protect the community for the next 25 years. The training requirements of the volunteer fireman has changed drastically since the beginning of the company. With the Aids virus and SARS epidemic throughout the nation, the volunteer had to be trained how to contain these devastating diseases. The members of Doyle Hose Company #1 always took care of its own members during some hard times, but their compassion was also felt throughout the community. The members held fund raising affairs for brother fireman Bernard Jakubiak in 1980 after he was diagnosed with a possibly fatal disease. When members of the community needed help, Doyle #1 was there to coordinate fund raising efforts for Jennifer Busch in September of 1992 and Jeremy Stacey in the fall of 1998. Through the hard work of the members, these families were able to meet some of the medical bills incurred. CPR and advanced fiirst aid training became more inclusive of the world around us, and some of our members were rewarded for their dedicated efforts. In the summer of 1986, Chief Frank Pagano was elected “Man Of The Year” in the Southwestern, Western and Erie County Firemen’s Associations for his heroic efforts while Chief Robert Higgins was named “Man Of The Year” in 1989 by the William Street Taxpayers Association and the Empire State Rescue and First Aid Association for heroic acts of bravery in the line of duty. Special honors indeed, for dedicated, volunteer individuals. On May 1, 2000, two young firemen, Jay Napieralski and Joe Fitzgerald were recognized by the Leonard Post for their life saving efforts while WNLO – Channel 23 honored firefighters Michael Mazurowski and David Crone for delivery a young child into this world during an emergency.
Though Doyle Hose Company #1 was a male fire company, the members were proud to welcome their first female firefighter, Lisa Ann Kostelny, on September 10,1990. This paved the way for many fine lady Firefighters to join Doyle Hose Company #1 with the 2004 roster showing four dedicated female firefighters.
In 1999, newly elected Chief Charles “Chip” Schnurstein proposed to the Doyle Fire District a directive to adopt the AED Program “Automated External Defibrillation”. In March 1999, Doyle Hose Companies #1 & #2, Doyle Fire District, Western Regional EMS and Dr. Lakomy of St. Joseph’s Hospital entered into agreement for this service. The Doyle Fire District purchased 2 defibrillators and later that year received two more from Senator William Stachowski. In 2000 Chief Schnurstein applied for a grant with Assemblyman Paul Tokasz and received $12,000 to buy 4 more defibrillators making a total of 8 in the District.
With the Doyle Fire District growing in population and open land being replaced by new buildings, the amount of fire alarms and first aid related calls almost doubled the last 25 years. The Williamstowne fire in March of 1987 plus fire alarms at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Orphanage, Suburban Collision, Holiday Inn and the raging inferno on Starlite Avenue tested the training of the volunteer fire person and opened the way for more advanced equipment. On October 23,1994, a year after the Fontana’s Restaurant fire, the company dedicated its new ladder truck, Tower 6, while the summer of 1999 saw a new, state of the art, pumper replace Engine 2. A thermal imaging camera was purchased by the District along with defibrillator machines to help victims with heart problems. The Creed of the Doyle Volunteer Fire personnel is to protect the life and property in the community served. Through a network of MUTUAL AID, the volunteer has gone beyond the district boundaries, like the North Evans fire in 1995, to help his fellow men in their time of crisis. Whether it is in the early morning hours, late at night, during a raging blizzard, flood or sweltering heat, the volunteer fire-personnel will be there to lend a helping hand or share their quarters for stranded people. We have now expanded our boundaries to lend assistance to motorists on the New York State Thruway, something that was unheard of before 1993. Training, training, and more training help the members of the volunteer service serve their community in a professional manner, saving lives and property of their neighbors.
The firematic and first aid training received by the volunteer fireman is invaluable, but there are many other aspects which are equally as valuable. The Fire Prevention Program offered by the fire companies educate the schools and homeowners as to the proper procedures to follow in a fire emergency. Preventing a fire could save a life or save valuable property or memories. In 1986, one of our members, Len Gruszka, designed a Fire Prevention Flag that was adopted by the Town of Cheektowaga as its official flag. Three years later, Len designed a flag that was adopted by Erie County as its official Fire Prevention flag. The accolades for Len did not stop there as the Cheektowaga-Sloan Board of Education honored Len on November 5,1990 for 25 years of fire prevention service to the school district. Finally, the culmination of kudos came in August of 1998 when the Fire Prevention program was awarded first place at the Erie County Fair.
Doyle Hose Company #1 holds membership in many other firematic organizations such as: THE FIREMEN’S ASSOCIATION OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK; THE SOUTHWESTERN ASSOCIATION OF VOLUNTEER FIREMEN; THE WESTERN ASSOCIATION OF VOLUNTEER FIREMEN; ERIE COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF VOLUNTEER FIREMEN; THE EMPIRE STATE RESCUE AND FIRST AID ASSOCIATION; THE CENTRAL COUNCIL OF VOLUNTEER FIREMEN; and the EXEMPT VOLUNTEER FIREMEN’S ASSOCIATION OF CHEEKTOWAGA, NEW YORK. The Southwestern Convention was brought to the Doyle community four times in the last 50 years as George Herman (1955), Chester Kociszewski (1971), Richard Ralicki (1983) and Dan Pawlowski (1999) served as Southwestern President. Thomas Owczarczak was elected president in the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York in 1982, a year after the Ampol Eagle named him the “Man of the Year”. Tom has also been our liaison between the State and Fire Company,. 1981 saw Vern Callahan elected to the position of Director in the Erie County Association of Volunteer Firemen while Len Siwinski was appointed to the Finance Committee of the Volunteer Firemen’s Credit Union in the summer of 1991. Don Szumigala, one of our Assistant Chiefs, was nominated for the Community Heroes Award in April of 2003 recognizing members of the fire service for their outstanding service to their community.
From a small wooden election booth in 1904 to a four bay, two story brick building in 2004, the spirit and dedication of the Doyle #1 fireman has remained the same. The firehall and equipment is constantly changing to provide the community with the best trained volunteer possible, while the newly renovated firehall complex has provided a second home for its members. During the 100 years of Doyle Hose Company ~1, the members always believed that Courage is the greatest of all virtues, because if you don’t have courage, you may never have the opportunity to use any of the other virtues. To the courageous men and women of Doyle Hose Company ~1, both past and present, we dedicate this program book to you. For your unselfish dedication to duty, we thank you. May the next 100 years be filled with the same quality of devoted fire personnel committed to serve their community in the best way possible. Doyle Volunteer Hose Company #1, its members and officers, listed below for the year 2004, would like to thank all the people in the Doyle Fire District for their support throughout the years, helping us grow into an efficient and well respected community volunteer fire company.
We have come a long way in the first 100 years of our existence from 12 alarms in 1904 to over 800 alarms and drills in 2003. A hundred years ago, who thought about what the future would hold. We hope and pray that our next 100 years brings the Doyle community together as a family, and the volunteer fire personnel continue protecting the lives and property of the community they love so much.
Thank you founding fathers, company leaders, both firematic and administrative, fellow firefighters who risked their lives to serve the people, and special thanks to the Doyle community for your support and friendship. May God bless you all!!
There have been many more happenings throughout the years, enough to fill a book. But whether it may be winning a softball championship, first aid competition, hosting a convention, or dropping everything you’re doing to lend a helping hand, we are proud to have been a VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER at DOYLE HOSE COMPANY #1. We hope to find some of these facts amusing and are proud of others, but no matter what your thoughts may be, WE WERE ALWAYS PROUD OF YOU AND OUR DOYLE COMMUNITY, DURING OUR INFANCY AND CURRENT TIME, BOTH THROUGH THE DEPRESSION AND THRU TIMES OF PROSPERITY. WE THANK GOD, FOR ALL HE HAS GIVEN US OUR FIRST 100 YEARS.