History & Heritage


Growth is always present with the Grand Island Fire Company. But it doesn't come about on its own. The Grand Island Fire Company is an organization of people - people who continually see growing needs and respond accordingly.In February of 1938, a small group of men recognized the need for Island-based fire protection. 

The first formal meeting of interested men was held on February 10, 1938, at the home of Town Supervisor, John. L. Mesmer Jr. Ralph W. Simson, an Assistant Erie Country District Attorney and a member of the New York State Fireman’s’ Home Committee, explained to those present the necessary steps for the organization of a volunteer fire company. Supervisor Mesmer was chosen chairman of the group with Eugene G. Bucher to serve as secretary.

Fire Hall - 1930's

Plans were made and the Grand Island Town Board was petitioned for the right to organize. On April 11, 1938, permission was granted for the formation of the Company. Two days later, the State of New York issued a certificate of incorporation, and the Grand Island Fire Company #1, Inc. was chartered with 53 founding members.

Grand Island Fire Company Engine 1
Grand Island Fire Company Engine 1

The first regular meeting of the new company was held May 18, 1938 and the following officers were elected: President, Edward L. Kruse; Vice President, John L. Mesmer Jr.; Secretary, Norman Badina; Financial Secretary, Raymond Young; Treasurer, Horace French; and Chief, Thomas Benton. The membership immediately authorized the purchase of a fire truck from Young Fire Equipment. Engine #1, a 1938 500 GPM pumper was received in July 1938.

In order to house the Company, the Town of Grand Island transferred its old town hall building to the firemen to become the fire hall. In 1940, the Town was declared a fire protection district and the Company entered into its first contract to provide protection adequate to the needs of its residents.

As the Town grew, so did the Company. Additional vehicles were purchased and placed into service. Providing emergency first aid was added to the Company’s responsibilities and first aid equipment and vehicles were purchased.

Grand island Fire Company 1950 Ramp

Mid 1960's Apparatus

From 1938 to the early 1960’s, firemen were alerted to calls by a dedicated group of telephone operators/dispatchers, originally under the direction of Dr. DeWitt Bell, a Ferry Village dentist, and then by Marion E. Klingel. When a call was received, the dispatchers first secured a driver for the apparatus via a series of telephone calls. The dispatchers then activated sirens, stationed around the Island. Call locations were hand written on chalkboards situated outside the dispatches’ homes, and the driver also wrote the message on a board at fire headquarters

In 1953, a new fire hall was constructed on the site of the current facility, replacing the original Town Hall building. This two-bay building, hailed in its day as one of Grand Island's finest, was enlarged in 1956, to four bays and a hose tower, firemen's day room, and directors' meeting room.

 Grand Island Fire Company 1958 Officers

1958 Officers

Also in the late 1950's and early 1960's, substation truck houses (Butler® buildings) were erected on Baseline near Fix Road and Stony Point near Huth Road. Permanent buildings were constructed on these sites in the 1970's and continue to serve the Company. Station #2 (Stony Point) was dedicated to Cyril J. Diebold, and Station #3 (Baseline) was dedicated to Edward L. Kruse, both past presidents and charter members of the Company.

Old Station 2

In 1973, fire headquarters underwent another renovation, which added a new chief's office, first aid room, sound system, and major wall and ceiling repairs. The mid-70's also saw the formation of the Fire Company's first fire police squad at the urging of Chief Donald Barth.

In September of 1978, the Fire Company took a major step forward. A contingent of Grand Island firemen began paramedic-level training under the direction of Drs. Edward A. Rayhill and Alvin L. Scott and Town of Tonawanda paramedic and former GIFCO First Aid Captain Lance J. Kohn, Sr. Classes were held at the Grand Island Middle School and in October of 1979, the Fire Company, with its newly certified class of nine paramedics, initiated advanced life support service to the Town. The unit today consists of five physicians, 15 New York State certified paramedics, and 30 emergency medical technicians - all members of the Grand Island Fire Company. Service is provided from three full-quipped Advanced Life Support (ALS) vehicles with 24 hour physician contact provided by the emergency department of Kenmore Mercy Hospital

Headquarters Groundbreaking

In 1983, after another remodel, our current fire headquarters building was dedicated and placed in service. This extensive rebuilding/expansion was brought about after years of planning and a major fundraising drive coordinated by President Will E. Weis, Board Chairman Norman J. Mrkall, Treasurer Arthur Wade, Chiefs Gary G. Roesch, William P. Wood and Peter A. McMahon.

In 1986, the Fire Company initiated its own dispatch operation with the hiring and training of 12 permanent and 4 alternate dispatchers under the direction of Senior Dispatcher William P. Wood. Purchase of a major computer system allowed for computer-aided dispatching as well as improved record keeping. Dispatchers serve as 911 operators and the E-911 expanded system will soon be incorporated.

Hazardous materials response was added to the Company in 1986 and a team was organized within the Company ranks. These individuals are charged with the ominous responsibility of dealing with the myriad number of chemicals and other dangerous substances that have become a part of our daily lives.

The Grand Island Fire Company continues to look to the future as we enter our 65th year. New equipment and apparatus are continually being evaluated, and a fourth fire station is being planned for the River Oaks development.

But, just as in 1938, it is not buildings and equipment that make up the Fire Company. It is people - dedicated, caring people - who have served and continue to serve as the backbone of the Grand Island Fire Company - a true premier organization!

As of 2003, the Company is housed in a modern, efficient headquarters facility with two substations. A cadre of highly trained firefighters, paramedics, Advanced EMT's and EMT's provide fire and EMS service. The one truck operation of 1938 has grown to an emergency fleet consisting of three ALS rescue vehicles, four pumpers, one heavy-duty rescue truck, three utility vehicles, a boat, and vehicles for our chief officers

Headquarters Today

The Company responds to over 1,300 calls annually!