In the last week of May, the South Newfane/Williamsville Fire Department members decided to cease operations. The SNWFD was formed in 1946 by Barret Bush, Cheney Williams, Mert Coleman, and Bernard Stone.
For me, I am saddened to drive by the firehouse and see the doors closed and locked. I served for 28 years. I served alongside many ﬁne men and women who supported our department as firefighters and ladies auxiliary members.
Why did our department close? The list is long as to why; our problems were the same as most fire departments. Manpower, followed by financial issues, was a constant problem we faced. Cost of equipment, insurance, mutual aid, and maintenance seemed to increase every year.
What did we accomplish in our seventy-one year history? We sen/ed our communities as all fire departments do with goal of saving lives and property. We also went to our local day cares and conducted fire-safety training. We took training courses so we would be better prepared for the next call. We hosted many fundraisers, Barbecues, and roast beef dinners in the fall. These were community-supported events that, in my mind, brought our townspeople together for an enjoyable time of friendship and support.
In my time of service, these events were organized by the chief officers and Shelba Jean Hescock, Joan Jones, and Sue Jones. At Christmas time, Santa Claus would arrive to visit area children. We washed bridges for the town, we filled swimming pools, had coin drops. None of these things are unusual to your local departments. I am just noting the loss in our two small towns.
Firefighters look at each other as brothers: we are a brotherhood. We see much that saddens us .We see our neighbors when they are facing disasters. We also see much that is good in the efforts of fire department members and the support of those who come alongside those who are hurting.
The next time I am at a parade and watch as area fire departments march by, I will give my humble yet proud salute in respect to them. I will also be remembering our fire department and the fine people I served with: Chief Steve Jones, Chief Charles Gray, lst Assistant Chief Todd Brown, 2nd Assistant Chiefs Scott Dorman and Benjamin Moore, Association President James Gray, Firefighters John Fiefel, Wayne Hoag, Faye Hoag, Neil Carter, Charles Newell, Edwin Gray, Marc Gray, and others that I may have forgotten to include.
If you are reading this and wondering about the strength of your local ﬁre department or maybe this brotherhood I spoke of, I believe all area departments would welcome your visit.
I close by retiring my salute and stand at ease. My brothers at area departments are awaiting the next call.