East Eden Seal
East Eden Fire Department's


 East Eden Fire trucks

On the south corner of Main and Green Streets was a shop which made office equipment,
owned by William Gulnerich. In 1922, his baking enamel oven exploded, causing a serious fire. Bucket brigades were pitifully inadequate and wells quickly ran dry. After the fire, many people started agitating for a fire department. When Henry Bley also lost a large barn, animals, and other buildings in a big fire, he, too, tried to interest the townspeople in a fire department.

It hardly seems possible, but there were some who were set against it, apparently thinking of the added expense to the town. However, it was said that the reduction of insurance rates soon paid for the equipment. The Eden Volunteer Fire Company was organized in July 1923. It consisted of Departments 1 and 2, located at Eden and East Eden. They operate independently on one another but cooperate in their service to the community.

Tom Babinger was elected the first chief of Dept. 1, and Albert Castle, chief of Department 2. The equipment at the time of organizing consisted of two pieces of chemical apparatus. Through all the early years there was no water system in Eden, and water was available only from ponds and wells. A tank truck and pumper was purchased in 1947, which added greatly to the department's efficiency.

 Old Red truck

The firemen immediately became members of the Southwestern Volunteer Firemen's Association.

In 1924, Eden held a joint fire department Inspection and Carnival, something unheard of at that time but now common practice. Much time and effort was spent in training the members in fire fighting, drilling, and first aid.

Fire Chief Ernest Rice wrote as follows for the first history of Eden: "The appearance of the Eden Volunteer Fire Company caused much comment at the convention of the S.V.F.A. in 1924. Their orderly arrangement and well formed lines, together with evidence of being well drilled, promised much competition to the veteran organizations who had attended for years. The efforts of the officers continued and faithfulness to duty of the entire organization promised reward.

In 1928, at the convention in Gowanda, Eden Fire Departments won first prized for the most men in line of march. In 1930 they were outfitted with new uniforms, purple trousers, cream colored shirts, caps and white gloves. This striking outfit, combined with the background of drilling and the spirit within the organization, was out ahead. For three consecutive years, they won first prize for best appearance, in Bolivar, 1930, Lancaster, 1931, and Salamanca, 1932. At the Erie County Fair they have done credit to the town. For three consecutive years, 1934, '35, and '36, and again in 1939, first prize was captured by Eden. Many prizes have been awarded to Eden at Inspections at neighboring towns. Much of the credit for this record was due to the old Eden Band and the Eden Volunteer Firemen's Auxiliary Band.

The First Aid Team, sponsored by the firemen, has been awarded prizes in three competitive demonstrations. A resuscitator was purchased in 1945.

In 1944 the firemen helped Henry Bley get 20 loads of hay into his barn. Hired help was scarce during the war and Mr. Bley's son Jimmy had been stricken with polio that summer, just when he was needed.

From 1923 to 1950 East Eden Fire Department used a concrete block building next to Wittmeyer's Hotel for their equipment. It was owned by Albert Castle who leased it to them for a dollar a year. In 1950 Hoelscher and Eichler built a new fire hall and sold it to the town. In 1962 it was enlarged and remodeled. In 1975, new doors were put on the front.

In 1953 a tank truck was purchased by Dept. 2 at the bargain price of $43.10. It was used 17 years, until 1970.

A new lime green fire truck was bought by East Eden Fire Department in 1973, the first in the area.

 East Eden Fire trucks

William Ziegelhofer was elected president of the Erie County Volunteer Firemen's Association in 1974, for a two-year term. He is the first fireman from Eden to be elected to this post, which takes 16 years to go through the chairs.

In 1973, Dept. 1 tore down the old fire hall which was built in 1922, and erected the present one on the same site.**

**(Taken from History of Eden, Vol. II by Doris Anderson)


Fire Departments

The Roman emperor Augustus is credited with instituting a corps of fire-fighting vigiles ("watchmen") in 24 BC. Regulations for checking and preventing fires were developed. In the preindustrial era most cities had watchmen who sounded an alarm at signs of fire. The principal piece of fire-fighting equipment in ancient Rome and into early modern times was the bucket, passed from hand to hand to deliver water to the fire. Another important fire-fighting tool was the ax, used to remove the fuel and prevent the spread of fire as well as to make openings that would allow heat and smoke to escape a burning building. In major conflagrations long hooks with ropes were used to pull down buildings in the path of an approaching fire to create firebreaks. When explosives were available, they would be used for this same purpose. Following the Great Fire of London in 1666, fire brigades were formed by insurance companies. The government was not involved until 1865, when these brigades became London's Metropolitan Fire Brigade. The first modern standards for the operation of a fire department were not established until 1830, in Edinburgh, Scotland. These standards explained, for the first time, what was expected of a good fire department.

After a major fire in Boston in 1631, the first fire regulation in America was established. In 1648 in New Amsterdam (now New York) fire wardens were appointed, thereby establishing the beginnings of the first public fire department in North America. Fire Departments in the United States.

In the modern sense, fire departments constitute a comparatively recent development. Their personnel are either volunteer (nonsalaried) or career (salaried). Typically, volunteer fire fighters are found mainly in smaller communities, career fire fighters in cities. The modern department with salaried personnel and standardized equipment became an integral part of municipal administration only late in the 19th century.


In some cities a fire commissioner administers the department; other cities have a board of fire commissioners with a fire chief as executive officer and head of the uniformed force; in still other cities a safety director may be in charge of both police and fire departments. The basic operating unit of the fire department is the company, commanded by a captain. A captain may be on duty on each shift, although in some fire departments lieutenants and sergeants command companies when the captain is off duty. Fire companies are usually organized by types of apparatus: engine companies, ladder companies, and squad or rescue companies.

"Fire Fighting," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 97 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1996 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

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