LAKEWOOD - Today's seven pieces of equipment that are housed in Lakewood's modern fire hall are a far cry from what was used by the Lakewood Bucket Brigade (established 1893), the only fire protection the village had just before the turn of the century.
On April 4, 1899, the bucket brigade became known as the Lakewood Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1, and in 1905, headquarters were established in the basement of the Odd Fellows Building on Chautauqua Avenue.
After reorganizing as the Lakewood Hose Co. in May 1906, Ellsworth Daugherty was appointed fire chief. During this year, a high-wheeled hose cart was donated to the fire department by the late J.W. Packard, and a group of lakefront residents donated a hose cart. During those days, alarms were sounded by pulling a bell on top of the Rue building at the corner of Third Street and Chautauqua Avenue in the village.
In 1915, Packard donated a parcel of land at the corner of Summit Avenue and Owana Way and $1,500 to the village firemen. On Aug. 25 of that year, ceremonies were held to lay the cornerstone of a new fire hall. At those ceremonies, the firemen were presented with a 1915 Model T Ford Chemical fire engine, a gift of James Packard, the key planner and developer of the village. That truck was the first motorized fire truck in this county. It is on display in the Chief George V. Blackstone Fire Museum at the fire station.
The Lakewood Chemical Co. Inc., the village's second fire company, was formed in 1924 after authorization by the village board. For the next 40 years, the village was served by the two companies. Two years after its formation, the chemical company purchased a fire engine from the Buffalo Fire Appliance Co. A three-bay addition was completed in 1949, with another bay built on to the fire hall in 1971 providing additional space. This building now houses the Village Hall and the Lakewood-Busti Police.
With the many people taking advantage of recreation provided by Chautauqua Lake, a rescue boat was put in to service by the department in 1938 to answer calls of distress anywhere on the lake. In June 1941, a newer boat known as The Garwood, was put into service and in 1942, the fire company purchased the Chautauqua Lake Marine Works on Packard Alley for $1,800. The building, which is the present day beach house, served as a boat house and rescue station.
Greg Osman, president
Tom Brown, vice president
Laura Gilbert, secretary
Dave Allen, treasurer
Kurt Hallberg, chief
first assistant chief
second assistant chief
Tom Danielson, captain
David Joy, captain
Jack Knowlton, lieutenant
Rich Jensen, lieutenant
Ed Nelson Jr.
In 1951, a heavy-rescue vehicle was purchased, which had been designed by Lakewood fireman George Blackstone and built by Jamestown's JNK Corp. It was the first rescue vehicle of its kind in Western New York and served as a model for the many that followed. Also in 1951, a custom-built rescue boat, The Eddy, was purchased.
The first fire engine in the United States to use pre-connected Maddydale hose lay was purchased by the Lakewood department in 1954. This vehicle was also designed by Blackstone and built by JNK Corp.
Other notable dates in the fire department's history are:
The department was the first in Chautauqua County to use mobile radio equipment, in the early 1950s;
In 1958, Richard Lattimore was elected fire chief, becoming one of the first black chiefs in New York state;
In 1961, the rescue boat service provided by the department was discontinued after 23 years;
Chief George Blackstone was the first of several chiefs from Chautauqua County to serve as President of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs
In 1995 the current Fire Station was built
In September 2001 members Dan Imfeld and Donna Bryant responded with the Chautauqua County Contingent to the World Trade Center in NYC.
The Lakewood Hose Co. No. 1 and the Lakewood. Chemical Co., merged to become the present Lakewood Volunteer Fire Company Inc.
Department members are very active on the county and state levels with; two deputy fire coordinators, chairman of the Fire Advisory board, Chief's Association chaplain, five Hazmat team members, five Technical Rescue team members, six Fire Police team members, one Star Flight flight nurse, one Emergency Medical Services Council member, one member of the Regional EMS Council and a member of the state Chief's Special Operations committee.
Like all fire departments, the training requirements are mandated by the state and federal governments and upheld by the department itself. Lakewood's maintenance of high training standards has long been a major part of its proud tradition in the fire service. Anyone interested in becoming part of that tradition or learning more about it is encouraged to drop in at the Lakewood Fire Station on a Tuesday evening around 7 or leave a message for the fire department membership committee with the village clerk's office at 763-8557.