In 1957, a new subdivision was being built off of Dick Road called “Homeworth Estates.” The Urban Hose Company, located at 179 Hyland Road, had originally protected this area of the town but disbanded due to the lack of manpower. Two members from that organization, Larry Story and Leo Wagner, started to canvas the new homes recruiting men to start up a new fire company. A third member, Roman Gawronski, joined their team. Through the efforts of these three men Hy-View Hose Company #8 was chartered on October 29, 1959, with a starting roster of 20 members. It was the birth of a fire company that would begin with nothing but an old fire truck, an old building, and no money. The organization appointed its first fire chief, Jesse Hyde. Its first company president was Charles Bickert.
The first fire hall was an old cinderblock garage on Hyland Road. Initially, Hy-View had only one truck, a 1949 Dodge. The unit, formerly a Town of Cheektowaga sanitation truck, was retrofitted by the Young Fire Equipment Company to be a 500 gallon per minute pumper. The fireman nicknamed the ’49 Dodge, “Old Betsy.” In the fall of 1960, the Hy-View board of fire commissioners asked the wives and mothers of our firefighters to form a Ladies Auxiliary to assist the fire company with their social functions. The first Ladies Auxiliary President was Helen Kerl. The Ladies Auxiliary ran their own raffles, Chinese auctions, and card parties, which funded various needed social equipment for the fire company. During these early days of Hy-View, the fire company purchased needed equipment through raffles, lawn fetes and various other functions. Slowly but surely more homes were being built and the fire district’s assessment rose to where the district had the ability to purchase additional fire equipment. In 1961, “Old Betsy”, (Truck #1) started to show her age, and needed a little help for the increasing first-aid calls. The district purchased a 1949 Divco milk truck that served as a first-aid rig.
In the growing years of Hy-View, many firemen gave their time and talents to make this fire company an excellent one. Hy-View was also helped greatly by their brother firemen from the Cleveland Hill and Forks Fire Districts, who shared organizational information and training help. In 1965, to aid in firematic training for town firemen, Hy-View joined a drive to have a training tower located in the Town of Cheektowaga. The town was unable to build a tower, due to lack of funds, but agreed to donate two acres of land near the Cheektowaga Town Hall if the county would erect the tower. The idea was presented to the Cheektowaga Fire Chiefs Mutual Aid Association and they agreed that a training site would be an asset, not only to the town fire companies, but also the neighboring communities. John Geck of Pine Hill, Sage Kamholz and William Arnold of Cleveland Hill, along with Roman Gawronski of Hy-View, were appointed as a committee to contact other towns and fire companies to gain support for placing the tower in Cheektowaga. The committee, along with great help from Town Supervisor Daniel Weber and the town board, were successful in convincing the county officials that Cheektowaga was the best and most centrally located site to erect the tower. Today, the tower is an asset to area volunteer fire companies, as well as City of Buffalo firefighters, who use the tower almost daily.
As the Hy-View Fire District grew larger each year, a new building was needed. In 1966, a new three-bay fire hall, which at the time was “state of the art”, was built at 8 Airport Drive. In the Bond Issue that built the new hall we also bought a new First Aid Truck and a Seagrave Pumper. Within ten years, the fire district paid off the land, building and equipment. In 1972, a second Seagrave Pumper was purchased, and in 1974, a 75 foot Telesquirt Ladder was delivered. In 1984, to better designate the fire company’s function, the company’s name was changed from Hy-View Hose to Hy-View Fire Company. Cheektowaga Fire District #8 also changed their name to Hy-View Fire District #8. In 1985, the firemen donated an extension to the fire hall to be used as a day room and weight room. Late in 1985 Truck #1, “Old Betsy”, was retired and a new 1986 Pierce-Dash Pumper was purchased to replace it. The old first aid rig was also retired and replaced with a Ford Heavy Rescue/First Aid Unit. A second Pierce-Dash Pumper was purchased in 1990. The Fire District, realizing that the growing demands were increasing, purchased its first Chief’s Vehicle. A new 1992 Chevy Blazer was acquired and equipped with EMS equipment and fire extinguishers.
By this time the 1974 Pierce Telesquirt was starting to show its age. In 1995, the price of a replacement truck of this type exceeded 1/2 million dollars. Determining that the Chassis, Pump and Ladder were in good condition and needing only minimal repairs, the truck was refurbished. The extent of this resulted in adding an enclosed cab and repairing the body. A new coat of paint along with the addition of new warning lights and reflective striping, extended the lifespan of the truck, and made it safer for the firemen. In 1996, an effort to secure some of the fire company’s history directed its members to locate and repurchase its original Truck #1, the 1949 Dodge called “Old Betsy”. The antique vehicle was refurbished and is currently used as a parade vehicle, winning awards year after year.
After nearly 40 years, the Hy-View Fire District needed to expand the original three bay fire hall and moved to complete a two phase renovation. Phase-1 would expand the building while Phase-2 concentrated on the renovation of the company’s existing meeting hall.
In 1997 the District started Phase-1, the Fire Hall expansion to six bays including the addition of a new chief’s office, commissioner’s room, training/classroom, and weight room. This would allow for the increased length of modern trucks and also permit purchase of a light first aid truck to take the load off the Ford Heavy Rescue. The addition of a generator room also allowed the structure to be self sustaining in the event of large scale emergencies. Once the addition of the new truck bays was complete, a light rescue was purchased. In 1998, the fire district acquired a Chevrolet 4×4 extended cab pickup through New York State bid and equipped it for use as a Light Rescue Vehicle.
Through a state grant and the hard work of WREMS, Hy-View and the other fire companies in the town, received its first AED. This advance in medical equipment greatly increased the chances of survival for patients suffering from cardiac arrest. The Fire District, with the help of a local businessman who wished to remain anonymous, purchased 5 additional units. Now, all of the first out units, including the 3 chiefs, were equipped with an AED. In 1999 the fire company completed Phase-2, the remodeling of the firehall’s original section which was built in 1959. The interior of the hall was remodeled; adding updated heating and cooling units, insulation and a fire protection sprinkler system. Both phases were done with surplus monies and did not increase property assessments to fire district residents’ one cent!
The Chief received a new 2001 Chevy Tahoe which was purchased and equipped with EMS equipment and fire extinguishers. At that time the decision was made to keep the old chief’s vehicle and pass it on the 1st Assistant Chief. This action helped to take some of the position’s burden off of the assistant chief’s personal vehicle. Through the hard work of Sonwil Distribution, Cheektowaga Town Government and the Hy-View Fire District, an emergency access road was completed. The land was acquired and cleared; a road was built; and a railroad grade crossing was added. This emergency access road would now allowed responding emergency units to travel on streets through a commercial area rather than residential. The new route would eliminate 1 and sometimes 2 miles traveled to calls. This cut some response times in half, as well as made it safer for everyone.
In 2002, it was determined that the harsh northern winters, had not been kind to our Heavy Rescue 7 and it needed to be repaired or replaced. The first out engine, a 1986 Pierce, was now over 15 years old. Manpower levels were also on the decline. After much discussion, a new truck design was finalized and a 2002 Pierce Rescue Pumper was purchased. This truck would replace Engine 3 as the first out pumper, as well as replace Rescue 7. This one truck did the job of two, and would allow us to perform more efficiently with less equipment. In the summer of 2006, Diamond Hawk Golf Course opened adding a restaurant, club house and maintenance garage to the structures that Hy-View protects. Another addition was a new Pierce Dash Pumper hydrant truck. The new Engine 2 included an 8 man cab and would ultimately replace the original Pierce pumper.
Hy-View Fire District #8 had a fleet of one first-aid vehicle, three pumpers, one ladder truck and a boat for emergency water rescue. It covers the northeast section of the Town of Cheektowaga. This area includes residential homes and apartment complexes, commercial buildings and warehouses, a Senior Citizen complex, local businesses, major intersections, a New York State Thruway toll area, and Aero Lake. Hy-View also responds as part of a three company mutual aid contingent to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.The Hy-View Fire District continues to grow. In the past 10 years, 5 large warehouses were built and a subdivision with 72 patio homes was completed. There are presently plans to build 10 more commercial buildings in a Business/Industrial Park and another subdivision of 50 patio homes bordering the golf course.
Over the years, Hy-View has grown from very meager beginnings; not having a table or chair to sit on, with bare bones equipment and a handful of committed volunteers. Through this community of caring people, we’ve built an excellent fire company and strong district. None of this success could have been possible without the efforts of past and present members: the founders, fire chiefs, presidents, line and executive officers, the ladies auxiliary, and especially the firemen. Thank you all so very much, for everything.