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A Look Back: The Springville Area Fire Companies – Part 2

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In this second of a two-part article,of a two-part article, we are going to conclude looking back on the history of the fire companies here in Springville and how they evolved.

In each of the previous fires and the one that I will share with you today, the fire losses would have been so much greater had it not been for the services of the dedicated firemen that we had in our area.

In 1946, the village again saw a fire when Springville Roller Mills (Gray’s Mill)  burned along with the cheese factory both located on the north side of Main Street.

In 1947, new equipment was acquired — a 1000-gallon pumper — and in 1951, a 500-gallon pumper was acquired that replaced the 1935 pumper that only pumped 250 gallons per minute.  And in 1960, an emergency pump is purchased. All of these were equipped with the Erie County Fire Radio.

A training tower was constructed in 1953 and provided a place to train firemen in handling various types of fire equipment, effectively and skillfully.

The Ladies Auxiliary of the Springville Fire Department was organized in 1935. They were and still are very active in the community and assist the fire company where their services are needed.

In 1974, the firemen dedicated a memorial marker at the fire hall to all the former members of the department.

In 1978, Gordon Rouse, a member of the Springville Fire Department, was honored by the organization for over 57 years of service!

By 1984, the Springville Volunteer Fire Company had 60 men who were dedicating themselves for our protection. They also provided first aid services, as well as giving mutual aid to surrounding communities.

Today, the Springville Fire Department operates from two fire stations, one at 65 Franklin St. and one at 405 West Main St., across from Maplewood Cemetery. The station house has a total of four class A engine/pumpers, a heavy rescue/incident command unit, a 95-foot aerial platform and an ambulance. Also available is a snowmobile rescue unit and a sled.

So how was the water gathered to fight these fires? I always wondered about that, so when I researched it I discovered before 1885 a small portion of Main Street was supplied with running water from a spring behind 105 East Main St. It was proposed that same year to use the Eaton Spring for the village water by pumping the water into a 100-foot tower and using gravity flow.

In 1887 Charles J. Shuttleworth established a private water system. The source of the water supplies were the following springs: in front of 16 Factory St., back of 105 East Main St., Spring Street and one at the top of Elk Street hill. All of these springs were connected with a gravity wood line that would then carry the water along Main Street, Pearl Street, back of Witter Davis and under Shuttleworth Pond to the reservoir on South Buffalo Street.

The pumping station brought in water from the pond to operate the pump. Water from an artesian well at the back of the pumping station soon added to the supplies. The mains were all made of wood.

In 1897, the village purchased the water system. In 1906, they purchased the Eaton Spring. A wood main was laid through which the water flowed to the reservoir. In 1929, Eaton Spring was flooded by the creek north of it and polluted the water supply. Chlorinators were purchased and put into operation. The Layne Water Company was engaged in 1930 to drill a well.

In 1931, the elevated water storage tank (250,000 gallons) was built and large cast-iron mains were laid from the pump house to the tank. The old system was not destroyed but kept as a reserve supply.

Between 1932 and 1938, valves were put in so that any street could be shut off for repairs and modern hydrants were installed.

Charles J. Shuttleworth not only made the pond that was behind the stores, but he also started the Village Water Works, and as a contractor, he built many of our buildings and was also the first to produce electricity in Springville.

In 1894, the village gave the Water Works permission to erect poles for the distribution of electricity generated at their South Buffalo Street building. Among the first places using electric lights were the Leland House, H.D. Smith Store, Firemen’s Building, Presbyterian Church, Benzing’s Market and the residences of Dr. M.N. Brooks, I.C. Woodward and, of course, Shuttleworth himself.

You can come and read all about the Volunteer Fire Department and the fires that we have had in this area over the years in the local newspaper archives at the Lucy Bensley Center on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We love to have folks stop by to visit or share some local history with us. You can call at 592-0094 or send us an email at lucybensleycenter@gmail.com.

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