Doyle Hose Company No. 2
The population of the town of Cheektowaga had just started to grow in the early 1900's with the growth rate very high in the southern part of town. In order to decrease the fire insurance rates, the Clinton Gardens Taxpayers' Association began talking about the formation of another fire department in the Doyle Fire District. Doyle Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 located on William and Alaska Streets had already been effectively protecting the district since 1904.
The people of the Clinton Garden area, being very fire protection minded, felt we needed another fire company to offer the district more fire protection and lower fire insurance rates in the area. At the regular meeting of the taxpayers' association held at Mr. Joseph Galamb's Hall at 2070 Clinton Street, on February 24, 1924, a motion was made by Mr. Peter Kojm and seconded by Mr. Andrew Partacz to organize a fire department for the purpose of getting lower fire insurance rates in our section. Mr. Stephen Rogowski, President of the Clinton Garden Taxpayers' Association and the originator of Doyle No. 2 appointed Mr. Peter Kojm to serve as organizer of the fire company. This was the beginning of the "Doyle Volunteer Hose Company No. 2," whose original me was Doyle Fire Hose Co. No 2.
The company was founded on April 10, 1924 with the following men joining: Peter Kojm, Stephen Rogowski, Gust Kalwicki, and Joseph Galamb, Albert Krawczyk, Ambrose Cegielski, Adam Strauch, Michael Nikel, Stanley Michalski, Herbert Hunsinger, Louis Lubecki, Valentine Stachowski, John Krinke, Frank Tokasz, Frank Witkowski, Casimir Witkowski and Edward Witkowski.
A total of 17 men joined and elected the following men to serve as the first officers of Doyle Hose Company No. 2: Frank Witkowski, President; Herbert Hunsinger, Vice President; Edward Witkowski, Recording Secretary; Michael Nickel, Financial Secretary, Frank Tokasz Treasurer and Peter Kojm as Chief.
Without a treasury, fire truck or firehouse, the company was at an obvious disadvantage. However, the men displayed a great deal of spirit and enthusiasm. Five hundred application blanks were printed, but there was no money in the treasury to pay for the printing. To get some money in the treasury all members paid $2.50 as an initiation fee to get the treasury started. A two wheel cart and 400 feet of hose were obtained from the fire commissioners this year. The fire commissioners at that time were Andrew Napieralski, John Rohr and Albert Pratt. Two more were added after we were incorporated.
This two-wheel cart was put in Mr. Partacz's chicken coop on Pleasant Parkway. There it stayed until Mr. Partacz had to make room for some more chickens. From there the cart was moved to Mr. Frank Tokasz's garage. It stayed until Mr. Tokasz rented out his garage. From there it was moved to Mr. Herbert Hunsinger's garage.
We ran our first dance on June 19, 1924 at the old parish hall located on Willowlawn near Clinton Street and showed a net profit of $79.85. All the members were dressed in blue shirts and white neck ties. Mr. Frank Witkowski made the first badges for this company. They were made out of old automobile plates and looked similar to the Maltese Cross. Mr. Gust Kalwicki soldered the pins on these badges. With the money made from the first dance the men were spurred to greater ambitions - a firehouse. Mr. Frank Witkowski gave the company a lease of his lot for three years free of charge. This lot was on the corner of Willowlawn and Griswold Streets where the present firehouse stands. The fire house was built out of box car doors at cost of $85.56 for lumber and materials with all the work done by the members. The firehouse measured 18 feet by 22 feet, half was used to house the two wheel cart and the other half was the company meeting room. The alarm system at this time consisted of a steel rim from a locomotive. This rim was hanging on a tree in back of the firehouse and was used to call the men to fire calls.
The two wheel cart gave way to a four wheel horse drawn wagon. However, it was used for only a short time. Mr. Peter Kojm was authorized to purchase a motorized truck, so Mr. Kojm bought a Reo dump truck at a cost of $170.00. By removing the dump body, and replacing it with the body from the old four wheel fire wagon, a serviceable motorized fire truck was becoming a reality. All the members again put forth their efforts to work on the truck. Mr. John Krinke made a loan to the company of $50.00 for parts and paint. Mr. Albert Krawczyk did the painting of the fire truck. In order to pay for the truck all the men made a loan of $ 10.00 to $20.00 each. The truck was used for about two years and sold for $225 .00 and the loans from the members were all paid back. From this time on the fire company went under the fire district's expense-The Doyle Fire District No.1.
On April 14, 1926 Doyle Volunteer Hose Company No. 2 became incorporated under the laws of the State of New York. The fee for the county attorney was $2.50 and $30 .00 was paid to the State of New York. Attorney William Brennan, Jr. rendered his services free. On June 23, 1926 the Board of Fire Commissioners bought the lots that our present firehouse stands on. In early 1926, Doyle No. 1 received a new American LaFrance fire truck. Their old Hahn pumper was then turned over to Doyle No. 2. There were 26 fire alarms that year. Of these 12 were false and one tragic fire in West Seneca took the lives of two children. Realizing that rescue operations were of prime importance in everyday lives, the men enlisted the aid of the American Red Cross to teach them first aid and life saving techniques.
The year 1929 saw the start of the mutual aid system between Doyle No. 2, Doyle No. 1 and Sloan. An agreement was made between these three companies that whenever any one of these sirens blew the other two companies would also respond. There was no radio communication in those days so the trucks had to respond to the firehouse and hoped someone stayed behind to give them the location of the fire. The other alternative would be for the men to just look for smoke on the horizon.
The thirties, the years of depression and prohibition proved to be a very tiring time for the men of Doyle No. 2, but the hard times brought the company working together. In the winter months there were numerous barn fires, mostly on Cayuga Creek Road. At one particular fire it was so cold that hot water had to be poured on the buckles of the raincoats so that they could be opened. There were numerous still fires in the area as a result of the prohibition era. In 1931 our first softball team was organized and two years later they won the league championship. A strong mounting force in the softball championship years were that Steve Basinski offered a gallon of wine to any man who hit a homer.
In 1932 practice was changed from Wednesday to Friday; each man had to attend two a month or pay a 25 cent fine. In 1933 the first man under 21 joined Doyle No. 2, this was a special exception, with no more after this for some time to follow. In June of 1934 Doyle No. 2 held their first of many field days which were held on company grounds. At the July meeting of 1936 Mrs. Kankiewicz and Mrs. Kojm were present and asked if they could use the company's name to form a Ladies' Auxiliary. January of the following year, a special meeting was held, the reason was to organize a First Aid Committee to cope with the problem of answering more and more first aid calls in the area.
In April of 1937 we received our first brand new truck. The pride of the community, our new Buffalo Fire Engine was purchased from the Buffalo Fire Equipment & Sales Corp., with 300 gallons in the booster tank and a 750- gallon per minute pumping capacity.
Late in 1939 our company set up a first aid team consisting of eight men, with the company purchasing the necessary equipment to run the team effectively. The war years of the 40's were very critical and lean times as far as manpower was concerned.
There was trouble getting men to answer alarms during the daylight hours because what was left of our manpower worked in defense oriented plants. In fact, the daytime shortage was so critical that Leonard Kojma Sloan High School student, not even 18 years old was authorized to answer calls during school hours. Whenever the siren blew he would go to the alarm and return to school afterwards. Many times the truck would go out with only one man, the driver. If it was a large fire, passers-by would be recruited to help man the hose lines.
When the war in Europe was in full swing the home defense movement started throughout the entire United States and this included the Doyle Fire District, for all members were on fire watch. There had to be a man stationed in the fire hall twenty-four hours a day, each remaining member took his turn, no one was exempt.
Bunks were installed at the firehouse, so that those who came in from work could catch up on some sleep while another man stood watch. A total of 24 active men from Doyle No. 2 were in the service of our country, which only left 16 men to take care of the fire company.
During the war there were two men from our group that made the supreme sacrifice in giving their lives for the country they loved - ADAM STRAUCH and WALTER LISOWSKI.
After the war years, in January of 1946 things started to move again - Doyle No. 2. Ed Kankiewicz, John Hyzy, Ed Witkowski and Joe Maciejewski were appointed to a committee to look into a new firehouse or extension which we finally got in 1955. Also in this year Joe Korona and Joe Maciejewski were put on a committee to get some recreational facilities which were scarce in the Town of Cheektowaga. They were successful in getting a playground erected on the Grover Cleveland school grounds. This included a ball diamond which was the home field of our softball team for some time.
In 1947 we went all out to prepare our men for the future. We saw the need for a well-organized first aid squad. Putting our point across to the Board of Fire Commissioners, they responded in purchasing the company an inhalator. Two weeks after we received it the life of Bill Chmielewski was saved when he was overcome by fumes from a gas heater in the bathroom of his parents' home.
With the veterans returning and many new men joining, we contacted Erie County to send us an instructor. Our first instructor was Al Clothier who, to this very day (1973), has been instructing us in firefighting techniques.
On April 24, 1949 we celebrated our 25th Anniversary with a gala banquet at Our Lady of Czestochowa church Hall. Twenty-five years ago in 1924 there were 17 men at the first meeting on April 10th. In 1949 there were only 4 men left – Frank Tokasz, Peter Koim, John (Gust) Kalicki and Edward Witkowski. These men were honored at the banquet, each man received a ring, watch and certificates from the Board of Fire Commissioners and a standing ovation. All active men were present this day, along with t own and county officials, for this was a memorable occasion for all the men that attended.
Also in 1954 the commissioners purchased a new GMC pumper for Doyle No. 2 with a pumping capacity of 750 gallons per minute and this truck was still in service until March of 1974. This year we were once again champs in softball and bowling. The years 1956 and 1957 were active years as the membership took charge in transforming a storeroom into a company club room as we presently know it today. Once again we were champs in softball and bowling.
Our first company chaplain was John Darlak hen was appointed ion 1961. Also in this year the company purchased the lot on the corner of Griswold and the Ladies Auxiliary celebrated their 25th Anniversary. The next year we held our first annual Polish Festival Ball at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church Hall; this was the first of many successful Polish Festival Dances.
1964 was a year of change concerning our fund raising activities because a motion was made and carried to drop our yearly field days that originated in 1934 and proceed with Doyle No. 1 on a district-wide coin card collection. The coin card distribution and collection actually started the following year and was considered a success.