Bowmansville Volunteer Fire Association
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Drum Corps

History of Bowmansville Volunteer Fire Association
By Daniel Magrum

Firehall 1950s
Fire Hall In The 1950s

The Young Men’s Association of Bowmansville NY in 1908 purchased a large frame building at 5312 Genesee St. This building was next door to the Palmer Bowman Tavern and was owned by L. P. Meyers. The building was moved to 36 Main Street where it was remodeled and made into a community center, where some meetings were held and plays were put on. However, the Young Men’s Association only lasted a few years. The President of the Young Men’s Association, Mr. H. Schweinsburg, entertained a motion to see if there were enough property owners to form a fire company. About 35 men were present at the meeting; all raised their hands in favor of the motion. This was the start of the Bowmansville Volunteer Fire Association. In September of 1912, A New York State Charter was granted to the members of the Bowmansville Volunteer Fire Association and the following became Charter Members of the Association.

J. Walter
H. Schweinsburg
W. MacArthur
C. Powers
W. Yanda
H. Suckow
F. Perrone
C. W. Lamb
C. Gass
H. Malzan
A. Meyers
G. Yanda
W. Smith
G. Sandford
E. L. Geigel
W. Cimmerer
L. P. Meyers
G. Ertel
B. Longmate
C. Adolf
J. Brauner
C. Cotton
M. F. Baker
H. Willyoung
E. Staub
E. Bastian
H. Seitz
C. E. Beidler
F. Stutzman
A. Pfleiger
H. Zumstein
R. Cimmerer
J. A. Lutz
A. Rogers
M. Mayback

In 1912, the company's elected officers were:
M. F. Baker
A. S. Pfeleger
H. W. Willyoung
Charles Powers
M. B. Zumstein
A. Snell
A. Rogers
John Walter
B. Longmate
C. E. Beidler
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Vice President
First Assistant Chief
Second Assistant Chief

A committee of three including E.A. Mayback, E. Staub and Fire Chief M.B. Zumstein was appointed to secure suitable fire fighting equipment at a normal cost.

The committee reported to the President and trustees as to the type of equipment that would be needed to operate a fire company. It was reported to the company and a motion was passed, that a chemical cart be purchase from J.J. Sly of East Aurora, New York (1912). This cart had to be pulled by a team of horses, which had to be available nearby.

Chemical Cart
Chief M. B. Zurnstein

The cost of this equipment had to be paid for. There was no taxation like we have today. So the fire company decided to hold a 3-day picnic in 1915. It was held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on the fire company grounds. Lots of food, drink and fun for everyone. The menu was fish on Fridays, chicken barbeque on Saturday and Sunday, and the famous clam chowder all three days. Mr. John Drews, of Harris Poultry Farm, donated all the chickens as well as all the farmers donated the vegetables to make the chowder. The wives of the fire company members and the town’s people worked to make this a huge success. Now we could pay our bills and buy more fire fighting equipment.

In 1919, the Company decided to purchase a Model “T” Ford chassis, from Jerge Motors Company, and then transferred the chemical cart to the new vehicle. This was our first motorized fire vehicle. This was just after World War I, but it lasted a few years and then in 1927 we purchased a “Buffalo” line truck from Buffalo Fire Appliance Corporation.

The next purchase was a 1932 600 gallon tank truck and in 1936, an 800 gallon tank truck replaced the 1932 model. The 1932 and 1936 tank trucks were all used vehicles, which we converted to fire truck service. The tanker was necessary, as the district lacked water lines and fire hydrants.

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1919 Ford
1919 Ford Model 'T' Chemical Wagon
Early Vehicles
Chief Walter Scrace Vehicle, 1927 Buffalo, 1936 Model 'T'

In 1945, the Bowmansville Volunteer Fire Company, in recognition of tribute to the members of the fire company that served in the armed forces during World War II, decided that a monument be erected at a pre-set sight (Genesee St. and Stutzman Rd). Permission was granted by New York State Public Works, which owned the property. In 1949, the monument was turned over to the Edward J. Bastain Post #1479 for maintenance and up-keep. They did a great job.

Monument Tribute

We were still running our 2-day picnics every 1st and 2nd Saturday and Sunday in August. We always had a large parade and raffled new cars each year, which of course brought the funds for our new fire station. We could usually count on support of neighboring fire companies; as a rule of thumb we would participate in their festivities if they participated in ours. We continued to run our 2-day picnics until 1962, at which time the Bowmansville Volunteer Fire Association celebrated the 50th Anniversary of operation. After discontinuing the field days, the main company fundraiser became bingo, beginning in 1964 and continuing until 1994 (this allowed us to stop worrying about the rain!).

Early Picnic Picnicers w/ Sign

In 1946, the Bowmansville Volunteer Firemen went on record to see if they could do something for the young boys in the area. They came up with the idea to see if they could sponsor a Boy Scout Troop. They appointed a committee consisting of Henry Maday, Charles Zoerb, Richard Longmate, Sam Culmo, Elmer Hamann, Elmer Fox, Rev Woodruff (from the Methodist Church), and Jack Moore. Starting with about 10 boys, Troop 56 had weekly meetings. Each and every scout would be a possible fireman and they could trade their uniform in when they became old enough. The Boy Scout Troop disbanded many years later, but Troop 56 was retained for the current Fire Explorer Post that the company sponsored for several years.

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Club Room
Walter Scrace, John Scrace, Daniel Magrum

Chowder House
Engine 1, Engine 3, Engine 2, Chowder House

The only land that the firemen owned was where the firehouse was standing. However in late summer of 1946, it was in mind that the company needed a new larger fire headquarters. 27 Acres of land adjoined the company property that was owned by Mr. Hawro. A deal was set and the company purchased the property. This land was west of the old fire hall. We broke ground in 1949 and in 1950 the new firehouse was dedicated. The original building was cut lengthwise in half and the bottom was removed. After the removal of the debris, the top half was gingerly lowered to the ground. The location then became the chowder house. The men fixed and installed the gas lines to the chowder kettles and lighting was installed. The women just loved this house. It was permanent. In 1964 at until such time it was taken down and carted away. The banquet hall gave us a little money from holding weddings, parties, bingo and gun raffles, etc.

Also, in 1950 we worked feverishly to ready the basement in the new building for our proposed clubroom to celebrate our dedication of our new building. We rolled in an icebox filled with beer, and some food. This icebox had a little story to it. The hot dog stand known as “Kum Back In” on Genesee Street at the site where Rehm Road comes out in Cheektowaga was closing down. I forgot what we paid for it, but it was a small amount, and we moved it down to the clubroom. We used it for quite a few years until such time that we got enough money to buy a built-in cooler. We fixed the walls up and the ceiling and we had a clubroom. Quite a few major improvements were made after that. I just hope the firemen appreciate that.

1947 Erie County Fair Display
.. Erie County Fair 1947, Fire Prevention Display

In 1950 a drum corp was talked about. It would be called the Bowmansville Volunteer Firemen’s Association”. Every time that we paraded, they were there providing music in the line of march. It lasted until the Korean War when most of the firefighters left for service.

Drum Corp
Drum Major Jackson Moore Leading the Troops

In 1951, the Company purchased a 500 gpm Diamond “T” tanker/pumper combination which held 1300 gallons of water. In 1953 and 1958 we purchased two more diamond “T” tank trucks. The 1953 model held 1000 gallons of water with 500 gpm pump. The 1958 model held 450 gallons of water and was also equipped with 500 gpm midship pump.


1952 Line Officers
1952 Line Officers
Walter Scrace, Chief; Willard Meyers, 1st Asst Chief; Richard Longmate, 2nd Asst Chief; Foreman

In 1961, the Bowmansville Volunteer Fire Company appointed a committee to look into an alerting system and a home receiver was installed in homes of fire fighters, especially the more distant ones from our fire station. We had a transmitter to operate the radios. The Lancaster Town Board was approached and arrangements were made for the Town Police to dispatch the calls for the company. This alerting system was put into service in 1962. This system of alerting did not replace the siren system, which is still in service today. Today, fire fighters are equipped with individual pagers, which allows the fire fighters to respond to calls from any location they may be at.

Alert System
1952 Salesan from Plectron

Apparatus 1962
Fire Company Apparatus 1962

Officers 1962
Line Officers 1962
Philip Fink, Paul Sugg, Oscar Metzinger, President James Martina, Robert Snyder

In 1962, a first aid truck was purchased. It was a Metro-van, built by International Harvester Company. It proved to be very well needed. Quite a few fire fighters took the first aid courses that were required and took part in First Aid competitions. It was converted into Fire Police Vehicle in 1978.

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First Aid Van 1962

Line Officers 1963
Line Officers 1963
Foreman Robert MacPeek, 2nd Asst Chief Harold Biecke, 1st Asst Chief Howard Scrace, Chief George MacPeek

In 1963, the Bowmansville Volunteer Firemen’s Exempt Association was granted Incorporation papers from the State of New York. Harold Glor was the first President of the Exempt Association. At the first meeting in September of that year, all sixty-four members present became charter members.

Exempt Officers 1963
Exempt Officers 1963
Top: Charles Lindstrom, Joseph Knott, Howard, Peter Klein
Bottom: Henry Geisler, Bernard Doran, Harold Glor, Ray Kroecker

In 1964, the Company purchased 1000 gpm American LaFrance Engine. In 1967 they purchased another American LaFrance 1000 gpm with 750 gallon tank.

Engines 1964
Engine 4, Engine 5, Engine 2

News Article 1964

Apparatus 1965
Company Apparatus in 1965

Apparatus Early 1970s
Company Apparatus in the Early 1970s

In 1970, due to an increase in first aid calls the company purchased a 1964 Cadillac Ambulance from the Harris Hill Volunteer Fire Company for transport of citizens to area hospitals.

Ambulance 1964
Past Chief Daniel Magrum On The Run

Chiefs 1972
2nd Asst Chief Herrnreiter, Chief Ernie Rose, 1st Asst Chief MacPeek

Chiefs 1975
1975 Fire Chief Officers
1st Asst Chief Robert Herrnreiter, Chief William MacPeek, 2nd Asst Chief Robert MacPeek

Apparaus 1975
Fire Company Apparatus in 1975

In 1975, a 1000 gpm with a 750 gallon tank, was purchased from Young Fire Equipment.

Engine 1975
1975 Engine 1000 gpm, 750 Gallon Tank

In 1976, the Fire Company First Aid Competition Team Won The FASNY and Western New York First Aid Competitions.

First Aid Champs 1976
1976 FASNY and WNY First Aid Champions

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Blizzard of 1977.

Gary Schroeck in Blizzard Rescue 4 with Lieutenant Gary Schroeck Don Bleistein in Blizzard
Fire Police Captain Don Bleinstein

In 1977, Station 2 was built on Seitz Avenue.

Station 2 1977
Station 2 New in 1977

Fire Company 1978 Line Officers.

Line Officers 1978
Top Row: Chief Robert MacPeek
Middle Row: 1st Asst Frank Cullinan, 2nd Asst Gary Schroeck
Bottom Row: Robert Herrnreiter, Robert Sinclair, Gregory Budnik, Donald Sutton, Donald Bleistein, Reymond Johnson

In 1978, a Ford Econoline Van was purchased and converted into a light rescue vehicle. This van was converted into a Fire Police vehicle in 1989.

Light Rescue Van
Richard Reese, Jr., Donald Bleistein, Carl Meyers

In 1978 the Fire Company responded to a structure fire at 470 Pleasant View Drive. An 80 year old male died.

Robert MacPeek at Fire
Chief Robert MacPeek
Raymond Hartel at Fire
Firefighter Raymond Hartel

Fire Company Line Officers 1979.

Line Officers '79
Top Row: Raymond Hartel, Robert Herrnreiter, Donald Bleistein, William MacPeek, Norm Preston, Donald Sutton
Seated: 2nd Asst Chief Gregory Budnik, Chief Frank Cullinan, 1st Asst Chief Gary Schroeck

Fire Company Association Officers 1979.

Association Officers '79
Top Row: George Neuner, Harry Wolf, James Gaskin, Richard Wahl, Donald Bleistein
Seated: Michael Miller, President Reese, Richard Stanley, Carl Meyers

On April 26, 1979, the Bowmansville Fire Fighters were alerted to a truck fire at Lancaster Stone Products on Barton Road. It was filled with explosives.

Cullinan 1st at Explosion
Chief Frank Cullinan was the First Bowmansville Unit on Location
1979 Explosion Article

Explosion Article 1979 Explosion Article

In the Winter of 1979, the Fire Company responded to a structure fire on Genesee Street east of Harris Hill Road.

Harris Hill Fire 1979 Harris Hill Fire

In 1980, a used Dodge ambulance was purchased from Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance Corp.

Ambulance At Crash

Fire Company Line Officers 1982.

Line Officers '82
Top Row: Robert Sinclair, Robert Muehlbauer, Dennis Mullen, Mark Sutton
Seated: Chief Donald Sutton, 1st Asst. Gary Schroeck, 2nd Asst. Chief Mark Lawniczak, Raymond Hartel

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On July 3, 1982, the Fire Company responded to a structure fire at Coral Pools on Transit Road south of Wehrle Drive.

Coral Pool Fire Article Coral Pool Fire

In 1984, the Company purchased, for the first time, a new Braun Ambulance from J.W. Carney Sales. It Was converted into a Fire Police Vehicle 1996.

Ambulance 1984

In 1985, the Company took delivery of its first chief’s vehicle; a Chevy Blazer.

First Chief's Vehicle
Our First Chief Vehicle w/ Chief Mark Lawniczak Sr.

In 1986, the Company purchased two new 1250 gpm with 1000 gallon tanks from Young Fire Equipment.

Engine 1 1986
Engine 1
Engine 2 1986
Engine 2

Fire Company Line Officers 1987.

Fire Line Officers 1987
Top Row: Gary Schroeck, Donald Bleistein
Middle Row: Michael Schuler, Kevin Chudy, Harry Wolf, Paul Falt, Karl Schaefer
Seated: 2nd Asst Chief Mark Lawniczak, Chief William MacPeek, 1st Asst Chief Robert Sinclair

Company Apparatus 1987

Apparatus 1987

In October of 1987 the Fire Company responded to a mutual aid request from U-Crest for a fire at the Westinghouse plant on Genesee Street. and Holtz Road.

Westinghouse Fire
Firefighter Lukas, Captain Wegst, Firefighter J. Andrzejewski

On October 29, 1987, the Fire Company received a special award from Lancaster High School.

LHS Award Article
Past Chief Gregory Budnik, Oscar Roaldi, Chief Lawniczak

In 1989, the Company purchased a Chevrolet Suburban, to use as Light Rescue.

1989 Light Rescue

On Sunday, September 17, 1989, the Fire Company responded to a bus roll over on the New York State Thruway just east of Harris Hill Road; injuring 24 West German visitors.

1989 Rollover MVA

Company Apparatus in 1990.

1990 Company Apparatus

In 1990, the Company purchased a GMC Suburban to replace the 1985 Chief's Vehicle. It was converted into Light Rescue in 1996.

1990 Suburban Chief Vehicle

On April 30, 1992, the Fire Company responded to a Mutual Aid request from Depew Fire Department at the old Dresser plant on Main Street.

1992 Dress Fire Article
Fire Fighter Dan Curtis

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In one week in November and December 1994 the fire company responded to three structure fires.

1994 Salvatore's Fire
Salvatores Italian Gardens, 6461 Transit Rd.

Three Fires Article
236 Pleasant View Drive and 592 Pleasant View Drive

Article About Three Fires

Fire Company Officers in 1995.
Officers 1995

In February 2, 1995, responded to a working house fire at 2747 Wehrle Drive.

Wehrle Dr Fire 1995

Article on Wehrle Dr Fire

On October 6, 1995, the Bowmansville Fire Company was alerted to a motor vehicle accident on the New York State Thruway Westbound near Barton Road.

1995 MVA On Thruway

Fire Company Line Officers 1997.
1997 Fire Company Line Officers
Standing: Carl Meyers, Gregory Budnik, Tim Domzalski, James Len, Grant Gunsher, Raymond Hartel, Daniel Curtis
Seated: 1st Asst Chief Mark Lawniczak, Chief Donald Wegst, Second Asst Chief Karl Schaefer

In 1997, a Freightliner Heavy Rescue, manufactured by KME, was purchased. This Vehicle was the first heavy rescue purchased by the company.

1997 Heavy Rescue Purchased Heavy Rescue Article

Also in 1996, a 1996 GMC Suburban was purchased to replace the 1989 Chevrolet Suburban Chief's Vehicle. The 1989 Suburban was then moved to a light rescue vehicle.

1996 Chief's Chevy Suburban
Daniel Magrum Cleaning the new Chief's Truck

On January 25, 1999, Town of Lancaster declared state of emergency due to the flooding of Ellicott Creek.

1999 Flood Article

In 1999, a 1750 gpm pump with 1000 gallon tank Fire/Rescue Truck, manufactured by E-One was placed in service. This replaced the 1975 Young.

1999 Fire/Rescue Truck
1999 Fire/Rescue Article

On January 28, 2001, the Fire Company responded to a woman down at Sacred Heart Church.

AED Article

Fire Company Apparatus 2001.

Apparatus 2001

In 2001 the Fire Company responded to a roll over accident on the New York State Thruway near Barton Road.

2001 Rollover Accident
Firefighter Pete Strickland Stabilizing the Vehicle

In 2001, Bowmansville responded to a structure fire at 111 Stony Road.

Stony Fire

In 2001, a 2000 gpm pumper with a 1000 gallon tank also was purchased from E-One. This replaced one of our 1986 Young Fire Equipment pumpers. Also in 2001, the fire company purchased two Assistant Chief’s cars and a Ford Medium Rescue from American LaFrance. This vehicle replaced the 1990 Suburban.

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2001 Fire Truck Purchased

On August 2, 2001, Bowmansville responded to a structure fire at 5895 Genesee Street; the Gathering’s.

2001 Fire at Gatherings

Fire Company Apparatus 2002.

Apparatus 2002

In 2002, the BVFA purchased a 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe, custom built by Odessy. This vehicle replaced the 1996 Suburban. This vehicle was moved to 2nd Asst Chief Vehicle in 2004.

2002 Tahoe

On April 4, 2002, the Fire Company responded to a female with chest pain at Dr. Penepant's Office on Genesee Street.

EMS Article

In 2004, the company purchased a 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe Chief’s Vehicle; built by American LaFrance. This vehicle replaced the 2001 Crown Victoria. In 2004, purchases also included a Chevrolet Utility/Fire Police built by American LaFrance and a 2004 Chevrolet Suburban Utility vehicle. In 2005, the company purchased a Ford Medium Rescue Vehicle from American LaFrance. This Vehicle replaced the 1989 Chevrolet Suburban.

Vehicles '05/'06

In 2006, the company purchased a Chevrolet Tahoe Chief’s Vehicle, which was built by American LaFrance. This Tahoe replaced the second 2001 Crown Victoria Chief’s vehicle.

New Tahoe '06

On February 6, 2006, Limited Active Fire Fighter/Explorer Kevin Stephan saves a life with training he received from the Fire Company and Boy Scouts of America.


Stephan Saves Life
Congressman says heroes are example of the great service Red Cross provides Congressman Thomas M. Reynolds (R-Clarence) today honored local heroes Kevin Stephan and Penny Brown as well as the Greater Buffalo Chapter of the American Red Cross. Reynolds made the recognition in honor of American Red Cross Month.

"To be surrounded by two genuine heroes and a great organization like the Greater Buffalo Red Cross is truly humbling," Reynolds said. "The story of Kevin and Penny is amazing, and shows the true power of the human spirit as well as the benefits of knowing life-saving techniques like those used by Kevin and Penny. And organizations like the Greater Buffalo Red Cross are the backbone for providing such training as well as the primary provider for disaster relief in Western New York."

Stephan and Brown are national heroes because of their amazing story in which each saved the other's life, seven years apart. Stephan, as an 11-year-old batboy for his little league team, was struck by a bat in the chest, and fell face first to the ground where he lay breathless. Brown, a registered nurse, hopped from the stands and performed CPR on Stephan, saving his life. Then seven years later, in an amazing turn of events, Stephan returned the life-saving favor. Brown was dining in the restaurant Stephan worked in when he began to choke. Stephan rushed from the kitchen and, using the training he had received as a junior-firefighter, performed the Heimlich maneuver to save Brown's life.

Reynolds presented Stephan with the American Red Cross National Certificate of Merit, the Red Cross' highest honor which recognizes individuals or a team of individuals who save a life using American Red Cross training. Reynolds also recognized Brown with a Congressional Certificate for her actions seven years earlier.

"This story is so astounding, sometimes it is hard to believe," added Reynolds. "But it is believable because of the life-saving techniques and training that organizations like the Buffalo Red Cross provide throughout Western New York. It is wonderful that this story can call attention to all of the wonderful training and resources that the Buffalo Red Cross provides for our area."

The Greater Buffalo Chapter of the American Red Cross, located on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, provides disaster preparedness services, life-saving training courses and other wellness courses. In the past year, the Greater Buffalo Chapter helped provide 20,580 people with CPR and first aid training, helped 758 military families to communicate with their loved ones serving in the armed forces, and met the transportation needs of 221 older adults through the LIFE Project transportation services for a total of 750 trips.

"Kevin and Penny's story is both a great personal story as well as a great way to highlight the importance of the services and resources provided by the Greater Buffalo Chapter of the American Red Cross," stated Reynolds. "It is an honor to recognize Kevin with the American Red Cross National Certificate of Merit for his actions and to recognize Penny for her heroism as well as the Buffalo Red Cross for the great contributions they make to Western New York families and communities."

On June 23 2006, the fire company was dispatched to a rollover accident on the New York State Thruway.

MVA on Thruway

On June 24, 2006, Bowmansville Fire Company was dispatched to a mutual aid blaze in Depew on Crane Street.

Blaze on Crane St

On August 26, 2006, the fire company was dispatched to an accident on the track at Lancaster Speedway.

Lancaster Speedway Crash

On August 30, 2006, the Fire Company was dispatched to a van rollover on the New York State Thruway near Harris Hill Rd. This was a church van with 12 people on board.

Church Van Rollover

On February 26, 2007 , Bowmansville responded to a school bus and car accident on Stony Road near Walden Avenue.

Stony Road MVA

On April 26, 2007, the Fire Company was dispatched to a mutual aid structure fire with Alden Fire Department at St. John's School on Westwood and Sandridge Roads in Alden.

Alden Mutual Aid

On August 14, 2007, Bowmansville Fire Company responded to a MVA with Millgrove Fire Department on Genesee Street near Schisler Road.

Millgrove MVA

On February 20, 2008, the fire company responded to a mutual aid blaze with Depew Fire Department at 6348 Transit Road, Transit Hill Plaza.

Depew Fire

On February 24, 2008, Bowmansville responded to a motor vehicle accident at the corner of Genesee Street and Stony Road.

Stony Genesee MVA

On March 6, 2008, the fire company responded to a mutual aid motor vehicle accident (ambulance and mini van) with Lancaster Village FD.

Ambulance/Mini Van MVA

BVFA 100+
In 2012, Bowmansville Volunteer Fire Association celebrated 100 years of dedicated service to the community. BVFA included the community in its celebration by bringing back the Field Days from years ago, and also a 100th Anniversary parade, which brought in participants from near and far. Other celebrations took place thoughout the year.
Rides Parade

Rainbow Over BVFA

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