Dublin Core




Rough chronology at NT History Museum, including notes about many defunct companies. A provocative (if unlikely-sounding) morsel about Hydrant Hose Co. No. 3 (1886-1909), formerly based on Sweeney near Delaware bridge:
The fighting crew of the old Hydrant Hose Company liked to fight fires so much, they would first fight the men of any other fire company who raced to a North Tonawanda fire to see who got the pleasure of conquering the flames. Often the flames ended up as the victor as the firefighters spent their energies in a brawl rather than on the element of nature.
From Sarah E. Walter's thesis as it appears on
The North Tonawanda Fire Dept is known as one of the best paid and volunteer departments in the nation.  The greatest enemy the lumbermen had was fire.  Annually it destroyed millions of dollars of lumber and cost many lives.  A step forward came on May 7, 1876, when twenty of the most prominent residents of the Village of North Tonawanda gathered together in the school house at the corner of Main and Tremont Streets and formed themselves into a Company for the protection of property against the ravages of fire.  The newly formed Company petitioned the Village Board and in special session on May 15, 1876, the board approved and appointed them firemen of the Village and their company was called the North Tonawanda Bucket Company, later to be called the Columbia Hook and Ladder Company No. 1.

North Tonawanda depended heavily on Volunteer Firemen and quickly grew to seven companies located at important places around the city.

Date Started Name By Whom  Notes
May 7, 1876 North Tonawanda Bucket Company / Columbia Hook and Ladder Company No. 1.    (See below)
March 1, 1886 Active Hose Company No.2   "Ironton Boys"
1886* Gratwick Hose Company No. 6 Village Council 1890? On Felton until 1962.
April 1887 Live Active Hose Co. No. 4    
January 26, 1891 Rescue Fire Company No. 5    
February 6, 1891 Gratwick Hose Company No. 1    
1894 Sweeney Hose No. 7 Village Council  

From The Tonawanda News, May 9, 1896:
Monday, June 15, has been selected as the date of the Firemen's Annual Parade. It is expected that it will prove of more than ordinary interest as unusual efforts will be put forth this year to make it an enjoyable spectacular affair.

In this connection it is interesting to note that Thursday of this week was the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the first fire company In North Tonawanda. Previous to this date North Tonawanda had paid Tonawanda $300 a year for the fire protection that the Tonawanda companies afforded.

The parent company of North Tonawanda was the Columbia Hook and Ladder Company; it is still in existence, but is now one of eight splendid companies of which North Tonawanda can boast. As before stated it was organized May 7, 1876, and its first president was Frank Fellows. It was organized under a famous old hickory tree which stood on the ground now occupied by the parsonage of the First Methodist Church. Nicholas Beckrich was the first foreman of this company and other members of this crack organization were John E. Oelkers, Frank Batt, H. U. Berger, M. J. Wattengel, W. P. Hayes, Jno. Spillman, Aug. Duckwitz, Fred Schultz, Isaac Gardei, Geo. Miller, John Haas, Julius Miller and others. A number of these early firemen are numbered among the most prominent residents of North Tonawanda but it is with considerable pleasure that they recall the days of their early triumphs.