The need for organized fire protection in the Millgrove area had been recognized for some time and in 1931 was the year that some men in the area banded together and formed the Millgrove Volunteer Fire Department. The group of civic minded men was made up of men from all walks of life; farmers, factory workers, businessmen, machinists, railroad men and civil servants. These men had one common goal- community service.
The first formal meeting of the group was held on November 7, 1931 and the following men were delegated as temporary officers: President- Joseph Schlienz; Vice President- George Rennie; Secretary- Lester Anderson and Treasurer- Fred Duttweiler Jr. In 1932 these officers were elected and the following officers were added: Chief- Phillip Suess; Assistant Chief- Albert Lords; Captain- Joseph Hy; Mechanic- Kenneth Meyers and Trustees- Fred Hoffman, Albert Stephan And Irwin Pinkel. The first fund raising picnic was held on July 16, 1932 and netted a profit of $452.03. When the department was organized there was no fire hall and the fire equipment consisted of a borrowed truck with chemical extinguishers and pails and a great deal of determination.
In 1933 the land at the corner of Genesee and Home roads was leased from Erie County and in April 1933 ground was broken for the original hall. It was a two bay, wood frame hall with meeting facilities on the second floor. The total bill for materials came to $942.33, and all the labor was donated except for concrete work on the floor which was $10.00.
On June 1, 1933 a Buffalo Fire Applicance Corp. pumper truck was delivered and put in service. This had a 600 GPM pump and 1200 feet of 2 1/2" hose with a 250 gallon booster tank at the cost of $5,450.00. The early purchase of this truck was made possible by a group of Millgrove citizens who had enough confidence in the department and the community to put up their homes, farms and businesses to secure the note for the truck. This note with the original signatures is on display in the hall. On July 5, 1933 a Flag raising and dedication was held and we were well under way. The rank of Torch Boy was created which gave young men a chance to participate in limited department activites. This is what is now called Junior Firefighters.
In March 1934, the Western New York Water Co. had a breakdown in the line that serviced Erie County Penitentiary and the Millgrove Volunteer Fire Department Inc. was called upon to furnish emergency pumping until the problem could be rectified. Our pumper maintained pressure for the Penitentiary boilers that produced steam for both the Penitentiary and the County Home from March 5 thru March 9, a total of 92 straight hours of pumping.
In March 1935 the first Millgrove Volunteer Fire Department Inc. Emergency First Aid Team was formed. After completeing the necessary training under Red Cross instruction the graduation of the team was held on June 7, 1935.
In 1937 the last payment was made on the Buffalo Fire Appliance fire truck. Also in 1937 the department saw a need for Fire Police to keep order at fires and other emergencies. The first Fire Police Squad consisted of 10 men. Another group formed within the department was the American Red Cross Relief Squad, it was their duty to coordinate community emergency efforts on behalf of victims of any disaster.
The year of 1938 the fire department was free of debt for the first time since 1933 and many improvements were made to the hall. Additional kitchen facilites were installed, the stairway to the meeting and social hall was improved, the second floor was completely finished off and the building painted. They were also able to help out the drum corp from the department.
In 1940 one of the first tank trucks was put in service by the Millgrove Volunteer Fire Department Inc.. It was a used Ford truck and a 600 gallon tank originally used to deliver fuel. Also during 1943 the Millgrove Volunteer Fire Department Inc. along with six other area fire departments put on a relay pumping demonstration in which water was pumped for a distance of one and a quarter mile. In 1945 a new chassis was purchased from the Crittenden Garage for $500.00 and the tank from the original Ford truck was put on it. In 1947 a new Hale Portable Pump was put on this tanker. Also in 1947 after 15 years of pumping from gritty creek beds and ponds the original pump on the Buffalo had to be repaired.
In 1949 after negotiating with Erie County the land previously leased by the department was purchased, which allowed for more flexibility in the use of the grounds. In 1950 the department became more envolved in first aid work and set up a highway first aid station at the hall. In 1951 recognizing the need for rural ambulance service the Millgrove Volunteer Frie Department Inc. put into service the first ambulance in the area. Ambulance service had been performed by local funeral director, but was slow and not always available. The department purchased a used 1937 LaSalle Ambulance which was used in the Millgrove, Alden and Crittenden areas but was also known to cover other neighboring areas.
The pump on the Buffalo was replaced in 1952 with a new Hale 500 GPM two stage pump. The departmentvoted to sponsor the Boy Scout Troop 267 in March 1954. A new 35 x 75 addition in 1954 provided space for four apparatus bays, mechanic and drill space and a boiler room on the ground floor and an assembly hall on the second floor. The original building was convertedto a fully equipped kitchen and recreation room. The new building was dedicated to community service on April 16, 1955. Also in 1955 a new International Chassis was purchased as a base for a tanker with a pump. The labor and most materials were donated by Mike Scheneker and was built by Scheneker Iron Works. Mike was awarded a 99 year membership in the department, this was the first and only time this has been done by the department.
During 1955 the newly set up County Fire Radio System was accepted by the department. The fire department honored a request to sponsor Cub Pack 267. With the availablity of ample seating space in the new hall it was decided to run monthly Bingo nights. These games proved to be very popular and were soon played every week, which is a practice we still are doing these days to help support us.
In 1956 the old LaSalle ambulance was replaced with a 1950 Cadillac Ambulance with the aid of funds collected from the community. In 1959 with the area growing it became apparent that one department could not efficently carry the burden of all first aid related calls. The Alden Chamber of Commerce spearheaded a campaign to initially furnish two first aid vehicles to serve the area, one to be manned by Millgrove Volunteer Fire Department and one by Alden Fire Department. In 1960 the Alden Chamber of Commerce donated a new 1960 Ford Emergency Vehicle to each department.
A committee was formed in 1961 to set up specifications for a new pumper/tanker to be added to the fire fighting equipment. After several months of planning the specifications were completed, and Young Fire Equipment of Buffalo was the successful bidder in the amount of $21,728.00. In October the chassis was delivered to Young, and in March 1962 it was put in service.
Home recievers were first purchased and put into service in 1964. A committee was formed to look into the benefits of an Exempt Benevolent Association and in September 1964 a resolution was adopted to proceed with the formation of the Millgrove Volunteer Exempt Benevolent Firemens Association. This took almost four years but on June 5, 1968 with the approval of the governor this organization became a reality, and an organizational meeting was held on July 21, 1968. In 1965 the annual Field Days were ended, this marked the end of a 35 year custom in Millgrove, but was a wise move dictated by the times.
With discussion about getting a second new pumper/tanker, a new truck was contracted for in early 1967 from Young Fire Equipment. This truck was put in service in August 1967 at a cost of $29,950.00, at which time the 1932 Buffalo was semi-retired. In June 1967 disaster hit the department when the original hall was gutted by fire, causing damage too severe to economically repair. The old hall was demolished and replaced by a new concrete block structure that now houses the trucks. This building is 60 x 72 feet and was finished in 1969. The equiptment at this time was still housed in the 1954 two story building. The new structure would be used as our Bingo and recreation hall for a few years to come.
In 1972 a new Chevrolet Ambulance was put in service to replace the 1960 Ford. On July 15, 1972 the department held a combined Mortage burning and Ambulance dedication. With more space needed for rescue equiptment, on April 28, 1975, at a cost of $39,999.87 a new Ford truck, built by Young Fire Equiptment was put in service. This truck had a water tank, pump and carried all types of rescue equiptment. With the two pumper/tankers this truck replaced the 1955 International Tanker.
The ice storm from March 3-5, 1976 had firefighters busy pumping basements, directing traffic, supplying stand-by power and various other details. This would be pratice for the Blizzard of '77 which tied up the whole area for over a week. The Millgrove Fire Department set up eating and sleeping quarters at the hall and organized a fleet of 12 snowmobiles for evacuating stranded motorists and delivering food and medical supplies to snowbound families and institutions throughout the area. With the delivery of a new 1977 Chevorlet-Horton Modular Ambulance in November we replaced our 1972 Chevrolet Ambulance. On April 16, 1978 a public open house and Ambulance dedication was held.
The years 1978-1980 kept members busy with the restoration of the 1932 Buffalo Pumper. This became known as the BUffalo and still in working condition is used as our parade truck and is taken to various equipment shows in the area where it has received mant awards. During the year 1978 a building committee was formed and in early 1980 the department voted to build an addition to the hall. By November the new 60x82 recreation and Bingo Hall was complete and on November 14, 1980 it was officially opened to the public. With this building we now could move the equipment into the new 1968 addition which was built to house the equipment.
With 50 years of dedicated work by the members and support by the community the year of 1981 was a celebration to behold. On November 7, 1981, 50 years to the day of the first formal meeting a celebration dinner was held. The year of 1982 we helped the Millgrove Ladies Auxiliary celebrate their 50 year anniversary. On Septmember 9, 1932 the auxilary was organized fir the purpose of rendering aid and assistance to the Millgrove Volunteer Fire Department and the community. Throughout the years the ladies have helped the fire department with all kinds of fundraisers, food at various group meetings held at the hall, and from fundraisers of their own, they have always made donations of cash or equipment to the department each year. They also have a Canteen Commitee on call incase of fires, accidents, or any other emergency to serve hot coffee and food either at the scene or at the hall. Still today, they operate the kitchen on our bingo nights and continue to support the fire department with their help, for this the Millgrove Fire Department is very THANKFUL and does appreciate their help.
In 1983 a new Hurst tool (commonly called Jaws of Life) was put in service. We also purchased the old Millgrove School property next to the firehall on Genesee St., we would later keep the rear property and sell the building to be put on the tax rolls.
After much discussion in 1984 it was decided to have our 1962 Ford pumper/tanker refurbished by Young Fire Equipment at at cost if $26,639.00. This was more than the original cost of the truck, but it was still cheaper than it would have been to purchase a new truck.
With the State Prison System purchasing the old Eire County Penitentary and talking about putting in larger buildings, it was discussed about the purchase of an aerial piece of equipment. In 1988 the fire department took delivery of a 1988 Spartan LTI 85 foot Aerial Platform Truck with a 1250 GPM pump. This could also be useful for other emergencies in the area. The cost of this vehicle was $378,502.00. Also in 1988 ut was decided to purchase a new ambulance to replace the 1977 Chevrolet Ambulance. With a cost of $59,164.00 we purchased a new Chevrolet Horton Modular Ambulance. In October we held a dedication of the new aerial truck and ambulance along with a mortgage burning for the 1980 addition to the hall.
A committee sat up in 1991 was to look at the possibility of replacing our 1967 Ford Pumper/Tanker and it decided to purchase a new truck. On October 11, 1992 we held a dedication for our new 1992 Gruman Pumper/ Tanker which cost us $229,000.00 This is a custom built chassis with an enclosed cab for 6 people, with a 1500 GPM pump, 1000 gallon tank and a 600 Watt Generator.
The year of 1992 brought another tradition in Millgrove to an end. It was decided to end our annual Mothers Day Chicken Barb-B-Q which we held for the past 32 years. Also in 1992 the Alden Town Board and the voters of the town adopted a Service Award Program for the two fire departments based in the township, this would be Crittenden and Millgrove fire departments. This Service Award Program was set up by New York State, to be administered by the local governing body to give volunteer firefighters a monetary benefit upon reaching entitlement age. The amount would be based on the number of active years in the department for which they had fulfilled the requirements of the Service Award Program.
The 1992 Gruman Pumper worked out well for the fire department, so in 1997 it was decided to replace our 1962 Ford Pumper/Tanker with a new truck. This would be a 1998 KME Pumper/Tanker with basically the same equipment as our 1992 Gruman Pumper/Tanker. This would cost $252,668.00 and was put into service in Februray 1998. At the same time we were considering getting hte last new pumper, it was discussed about replacing our 1975 Ford Rescue Truck. After checking specifications and prices it was decided we could get a good deal by purchasing two pieces of equipment at the same time. So at a cost of $199,917.00 it was decided to purchase a Heavy Rescue Truck from KME along with the pumper. This new rescue truck would be on a Frieghtliner chassis, with a 18 foot walk-in body, built in 25,000 watt generator, built in Hurst power unit, water tank and pump, lights to light up the area and compartment space for all types of equiptment.
In the fall of 1998, the Millgrove Volunteer Fire Department discontinued their ambulance service to the community. After selling the ambulance, the fire department realized there was a need for a light rescue vehicle. The fire department purchased a 2001 F 550 Ford chassis with a stainless utility bed. The purchase came from RD Murray at the price of $121,272.00, with the arrival of 7-1 in April 2001.
In 1999, the Millgrove Ladies Auxiliary generously donated a Scott Eagle 1 Thermal Imaging Camera with telemetry at the approximate cost of $23,000.00. The thermal imaging camera system may be used to locate hot areas that may not be seen by the naked eye.
Besides purchasing and upgrading fire apparatus and equipment, the fire department focused on upgrades to the building and grounds. In 1999, the Millgrove Volunteer Fire Department constructed a firefighter memorial for all present and deceased firefighters that are serving or who have served the community. The memorial was erected near Home Road in front of the flag pole. In addition to the memorial being constructed, a new lighted sign was also constructed on the east side of the fire hall grounds. The sign will be used for advertisements of upcoming events and fire prevention announcements. In 2003, a great need for additional space was needed and a back building was constructed in the rear of the fire hall. Currently, the back building holds our 7-1 light rescure vehicle and our 1932 Antique Buffalo Truck. In 2004, new windows were replqaced in the upstairs training room and club room. Also, the clam chowder room was torn down and a picnic shelter (snack shack) was constructed in its place.
Besides the upgrades to the outside of the buildings the Millgrove Volunteer Fire Department focused on making improvements to the interior. In 2000, an alarm system using a key FOB was installed in the fire hall. in 2004, the fire department replaced the heating system in the truck bay with radiant heat. The original boiler was replaced in April 2005, and air conditioning was added to the upstairs training room and club room. In October, the Millgrove Volunteer Fire Department also replaced the air conditioning and heating units in the bingo hall. Due to numerous power outages, the fire department felt the need for a stand by generator to accommodate about 75% of the hall's everday needs. With the completion of the 30,000 KW generator in the summer of 2006, the community will now have a safe haven for a time of disaster. With the increase in call volume and the communty need, a Chief's vehicle for the Millgrove Volunteer Fire Department was purchased. A 2003 Ford Expedition at the cost of $31,529.00 was delivered on May of 2003 by Delacy Ford. One of our last purchases in our 75th year of serving the community was our new Ultra High Frequency Radio System, complete with tower, mobile radios, portable radios, pagers and in house paging system. The radio tower was erected on the east side of the back building. The estimated cost of the new radio system was approximately $110,000.00 and was constructed by Saia Communications.
In December 2001, we began a community event called pPictures with Santa in which families receive a free picture with Santa in front of the 1932 Buffalo. All proceeds from this free event, go to a beneficiary that changes every year. In recent years, we began a yearly tradition of a Father's Day Chicken and rib Bar-B-Que, in which chicken and ribs are cooked by an outside vendor. In the fall of 2006 the Millgrove Fire Department and the Millgrove Ladies Auxiliary held their first Gun Raffle. The proceeds from the event are split evenly.
As you can see, we have come a long way since the original meeting in 1931 was held.