South Line Volunteer Fire Company
It began toward the end of 1944, when the Four – Town Volunteer Fire Company was formed by the men who represented the adjacent areas of Cheektowaga, West Seneca, Lancaster and Depew. A few years after Four Town Volunteer Fire Company was formed, a barn on French Road was destroyed by fire, due to the apparatus not arriving in a timely manner. The firefighters of the Four Town Volunteer Fire Company who resided off of French Road in the Town of Cheektowaga, decided that the area in that part of town was too large to be adequately covered by Four Town Volunteer Fire Company. These firefighters met on October 3, 1946 in the boiler room of the greenhouses owned by Curtis Lehde to make provisions so that further loss of life and property would not occur. It was at this meeting that Alfred Kless motioned, and his son, Wesley Kless, seconded, that a new fire company be formed. This was the beginning of the Cheektowaga South Line Volunteer Fire Company.
The incorporation of the present South Line Volunteer Fire Company was made official on April 3, 1947. Two main issues were brought to the forefront of the company’s attention: the need for a pumper and fire hall. The original 26 members of the company each donated one hundred dollars ($100.00) to purchase an old civil defense pump, which after renovation was placed on a trailer and became the first fire apparatus of the fire company. The original fire station was at 931 French Road, across from what is currently Brentwood Drive. This structure was built by the firemen themselves before the fire company was placed on the town’s tax rolls.
A few years later, the truck was found to be inadequate to the needs of the growing fire company and a second army surplus vehicle was purchased and mounted on the bed of a G.M.C. truck. As time went on, the area that the fire company served changed and farms were slowly replaced by homes and small businesses along French Road. This resulted in the acquisition of the most cherished possession of this fire company: the 1935 pumper, South Line’s first fire truck. This pumper was manufactured by Buffalo Fire Appliance and is the end product of many fund-raisers that included dances, raffles, and picnics. The “35” is now the oldest functioning fire apparatus in Cheektowaga and the adjoining areas. In the spring of 1950 the South Line Volunteer Fire Company added another apparatus bay to the fire station, to accommodate for the growth of the area and of the fire company.
South Line Volunteer Fire Company joined the other fire companies in the Town of Cheektowaga and established a fire district, when the Town Board dissolved the South Line Fire Protection District in 1963 and created South Line Fire District #10. In 1965, the residents of the South Line Fire District authorized the spending of $51,700 for an additional new two-bay fire station, which is currently Station #2 at 40 Boxwood Lane. The substation was the first in Cheektowaga and continued the progressive nature that South Line was known for during this time period. The substation was christened with a brand new $32,000 pumper that was purchased in 1968 to cover the western end of the district along Union Road.
Our current structure at 1049 French Road was built in 1970 with the groundbreaking ceremonies being held on September 13th, which included the placing of the cornerstone and a time capsule. The building cost $295,000 and could hold four firefighting and rescue vehicles. In 1990, another addition was added, which included two new apparatus bays and a total renovation of every room inside of the building. This addition was dedicated in the spring of 1991 with the laying of a new cornerstone.
In 1996 South Line Volunteer Fire Company celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Multiple proclamations were issued acknowledging the dedication of the firefighters and officers of Cheektowaga South Line Volunteer Fire Company. In 1997, due to decreased attendance and increased financial demands, the South Line Weekly Friday Night Bingo Fundraisers was terminated.
As residents of Cheektowaga South Line Volunteer Fire Company demanded more emergency medical service requests than fire responses, the South Line Fire District petitioned the New York State Department of Health for a change in EMS Certification. In spring of 1998, a temporary status change was granted from NYS EMS BLS Transporting Level to NYS AEMT – I Non Transporting Level. This advanced certification allowed firefighters to provide Advanced Life Support while waiting for the private ambulance company to arrive and transport.
In 2001, the firefighters and officers of Cheektowaga South Line Volunteer Fire Company were forever changed. The terrorist attacks on the United States at the World Trade Center and Pentagon. A statewide mutual aid plan was enacted, requesting any fire department that could provide EMS vehicles to respond to the World Trade Center. Due to having a Non – Transport EMS Certification, their services were not required. With this news an emergency meeting of the South Line Fire Volunteer Company was held. It was determined that something needed to be done to show our support to the first responders of this unspeakable tragedy. A one day boot drive was held at the intersections of French and Borden Roads as well as French and Union Roads. The community support was absolutely tremendous. In approximately 7 hours over $17,000 was raised for the families of the FDNY, affected by the 9/11 tragedy. This money was hand delivered by officers of South Line Fire District #10 and South Line Volunteer Fire Company to FDNY Engine 44 in January 2002.
In 2003, South Line gained official approval from NYS DOH to operate as a NYS AEMT – I Non Transporting Agency permanently. This certification is renewed with the NYS DOH every 3 years. In October 2006, WNY was hit with a surprise snow storm. This storm left over 5 feet of snow, and power outages for days. Even some firefighters of Cheektowaga South Line Volunteer Fire Company suffered damages to their homes. South Line Volunteer Fire Company responded to over 400 alarms in this 4 day span alone. Many South Line Fire District #10 apparatus were damaged as a result of this storm, mostly body damage. With 2 new apparatus being ordered, and several damaged due to storm damage, it was determined that an apparatus color change was in order. Newly arriving South Line Fire District #10 apparatus were changed to Black over Red paint scheme, from the White over Yellow paint scheme.
As the demands from the community increased, the need for more training increased as well. In spring of 2006 South Line Fire District $10 acquired a vacant warehouse adjacent to Station #2. This adjacent warehouse and Fire Station were renovated to create South Line Fire District #10 Station #2 and Training Facility. The 2 new apparatus bays and training facility were dedicated on October of 2008. Due to the increased number of members answering their last alarm, the memorial brick plaza was moved to the rear of Station #1. The bigger memorial plaza also offered firefighters and officers of Cheektowaga South Line Volunteer Fire Company the opportunity to have their name forever inscribed in plaza paver brick.
(We would like to thank Steven, and James Rudnicki for their research and assistance in helping us create this history page)