Bicentennial Snapshot No. 50: Barnard and Lakeshore Fire Districts

This week we explore the history of Barnard and Lake Shore Fire Districts.

Barnard Fire Department

“Early in 1927, a group of civic-minded citizens of the Barnard District seeing the rapid growth of the section, decided that some form of fire protection was needed. This group set about to organize a fire department, and on April 14, 1927, this was realized by having the incorporation papers approved by the Greece Town Board.”

Barnard Fire Department Plaque photo by Bill Sauers
Barnard Fire Department Plaque photo by Bill Sauers
Aerial view of Dewey Avenue at Clark Park, 1970s, Office of the Town Historian

The firehouse was built in 1928 on land donated by George H. Clark.

Leon Cox helped found the Barnard Fire Department, was a town councilman, and was a leading businessman in the area.

Leon Cox
Leon Cox

The district’s approximate boundaries are Mount Read Blvd on the west, Latta Road on the north, and the city of Rochester on the east and south.

Map of Environs of Rochester and Monroe County, 1931, G. M. Hopkins Company, from the Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division
Barnard Fire Truck, the 1930s, from the Office of the Town Historian

Their first piece of apparatus was a White truck, combination hose, and chemical, purchased from the City of Rochester. The new company fought its first fire on February 4, 1928, at the MacDonald residence on Wendhurst Drive.

25 to 30 firefighters responded to the fire. It was an all-volunteer company, but today is a combination of career and volunteer members.

Barnard Fire District Volunteers, 1931, from the Office of the Town Historian
First police Department, 1940s, from GHS

When Greece converted from constables to a police department in 1932, their headquarters were a room in the Barnard fire station. The police department moved to the town hall in the 1950s.

The fire district operates from a single fire station approximately in the geographic center of their service area. In 1950, realizing that their iron lung machine was better off in a hospital setting, the Barnard Fire Department donated it to Strong Memorial Hospital. (Snapshot # 47 Childhood illnesses and diseases)

Barnard fire station, the 1960s, Office of the Town Historian
Barnard fire station, 2017, Office of the Town Historian

The firehouse was expanded in 1999.

At 3.7 miles, the Barnard Fire District serves the smallest geographic area in Greece, but it has the densest population at 5,536 per mile.

Barnard fire station, 2006, photo by Bill Sauers
Squad 227 from barnardfire.org

At least one of the firefighters on duty each shift is a paramedic and “Barnard is the only fire department in Greece to provide paramedic first-response.” Of their average 3,500 calls for service, 77% are EMS-related.

Barnard Exempts Board of Trustees, Greece Press, circa 1937

In 1935, the Barnard Exempt Fireman’s Association was founded to provide relief aid to disabled or indigent members and their families, to promote the volunteer department, and to foster camaraderie among current and former Barnard firefighters. Under New York State law, exempt in this case meant that the volunteer firefighters were exempt from jury duty and although not in the town of Greece from a small portion of their property taxes.

Officer's Exempt Form
Officer’s Exempt Form
Barnard Park from google maps

In 1937, the Exempts purchased a 16-acre tract on Maiden Lane to build not only a clubhouse for themselves but also with the intention “to turn it into the finest town small park in the state.” They laid out a baseball diamond, set out tables and benches for picnics, and constructed fireplaces for hotdog and marshmallow roasts.” Over the years the park and the party house have hosted thousands of functions.

And on the grounds of the Barnard Exempts, there is a shed that was used as a camp headquarters for a Boy Scouts troop that was sponsored by Barnard Exempt members

A staple of the Dewey-Stone area was the annual Barnard Carnival and Parade, a fundraiser for the fire district.

People gather for the Barnard Parade, 1970s, Office of the Town Historian

The Carnival was held every year from 1928 to 2016 attracting thousands of people.

Ad for 1943 Barnard Carnival, from the Office of the Town Historian

It has been replaced by Bands at Barnard, a series of summer music concerts. You can find more information online for the 2023 schedule for Bands at Barnard by going to their Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Bandsatbarnard.

Lake Shore Fire District

In 1957 four separate fire companies that served the lake shore communities joined together to form the Greece Lake Shore Fire District. They were the Braddock Heights Fire Department, Grand View Heights Fire Department, Crescent Beach Fire Department, and Lake View Fire Company.

Current Lake Shore Fire District Coverage Map

In the early 1930s, Barnard and North Greece fire districts were under contract with the town to provide service to the shore communities; Barnard was responsible for Shoremont west of the city line to Island Cottage to the Buck Pond outlet and the North Greece territory was from Crescent Beach west to Braddock Heights, including Grand View Beach and Grand View Heights.

Lake Shore Fire Distract shield on side of the Ling Road fire station, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers
Braddock Heights Fire Department with Gordon Howe, 1940s, Office of the Town Historian
Braddock Heights Fire Department with Gordon Howe, 1940s, Office of the Town Historian

But these areas also had their own fire departments. Like Barnard, concerned citizens formed a volunteer fire department at Braddock Heights in 1930. It was located on East Manitou Road at 2nd Ave. Their nickname was The Swamp Rats.

A new station was constructed circa 1965 at 35 East Manitou Road; today, it is no longer a fire station but a studio home.

Braddock Heights Fire Station
Braddock Heights Fire Station, which closed in the Late 1990s, now a Studio Home
Crescent Beach Fire Dept 1930s Greece Town Historian
Crescent Beach Fire Dept 1930s, Greece Town Historian

Crescent Beach Fire Department was founded in 1934 as the Crescent Beach Protective Association but changed its name to Crescent Beach Fire Department when it was incorporated in 1936. It was located on Edgemere Drive. Their symbol was an owl with the motto “We Never Sleep.”

And Grand View Heights established its fire association in 1925 and incorporated in 1936 and was chartered by New York State as a fire department in 1944. They were located at Lowden Point. In the background of the station is the fire siren that was used to call the volunteers to the station before pagers, beepers, cell phones, and radios in the firefighters’ personal vehicles.

Clip 21: Former firehouse at Lowden Point, 2014, photo by Bill Sauers
Former firehouse at Lowden Point, 2014, photo by Bill Sauers
Ad for Braddock Heights Fire Department Carnival from eBay

Since they were not under contract with the town, they could not be supported by taxes. Each of these volunteer groups and their women’s auxiliaries held frequent fundraisers such as card parties, sauerkraut dinners, and annual carnivals just like Barnard.

The funds raised were used to purchase firefighting equipment.

Fire apparatus of Crescent Beach Fire Department, 1930s, Office of the Town Historian
Lake Shore fire apparatus, 1984
Lakeview Fire Department on Ling Road
Lakeview Fire Department on Ling Road

In 1957, when they joined together a new firehouse was constructed on Ling Road and called the Lakeview Fire Company

Two of the Lake Shore Fire Department Stations suffered fires the Crescent Beach fire on February 16, 1983, and the Grand View Beach on March 15, 1983, with both stations unable to operate out of their station bays a new station was required

Crescent Beach Fire House FIRE (GHS)
Crescent Beach Fire House FIRE (GHS) was Located at 1391 Edgemere Drive
Former firehouse at Lowden Point, 2014, photo by Bill Sauers
Former firehouse at 225 Lowden Point Road, 2014, photo by Bill Sauers

The Lake Shore Fire District decided to replace both stations with a new building centrally located between both Cresent Beach and Grand View Beach at 1 Long Pond Road. In 1992, the fire station was officially re-dedicated it as the Charles L. Carroll Fire Station honoring the first fire chief of Lake Shore.

Lakeshore fire house 1 Long Pond Road, 2021, photo by Bill Sauer
Lakeshore fire house 1 Long Pond Road, 2021, photo by Bill Sauers

The new site was centrally located in the fire district, and would provide a “more efficient reaction and response in all directions.” It became the first full-time staffed station in the Lake Shore Fire District and was designated the headquarters. It eventually incorporated Braddock Heights in the late 1990s.

Lakeview Fire Department on Ling Road
Ling Road fire station, 2022. Photo by Bill Sauers
Ling Road fire station, 2022. Photo by Bill Sauers

The Ling Road Fire House was replaced with a new building in 2012 and on June 16, 2012, the fire station was officially dedicated in the name of Robert Brindley, LSFD life member and past fire chief of the Lakeview Fire Company. The Ling Road station covers the east end of the Lake Shore Fire District.

As of 2018, the department had 11 full-time career firefighters and 41 volunteers.

Lake Shore Fire District
Lake Shore Fire District
Lake Shore Rescue Boat
Lake Shore Rescue Boat

Unique to the Lake Shore Fire district, the department has two boats and crews trained in water rescue; the boats are assigned to the Ling Road Station. The fire department averages 1,000 calls for service per year, 67% are EMS-related. In 2018 there were 13 events that required the rescue boat.

Ling Road station sign, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

All the Greece fire departments give mutual aid when required: to the other Greece fire districts, the city of Rochester, and neighboring towns, but sometimes they also provide assistance or will fill in for the fire station, and will deploy elsewhere if needed in the state and country to show support or relief for other fire companies. Most recently Lake Shore District firefighters went to Buffalo to assist them after the Christmas weekend blizzard of 2022. Below is the Map of the Walden Fire District in the Town of Cheektowaga.

Map of the Walden Fire District that the Lake Shore Fire District assisted

As a Volunteer for the Greece Historical Society, I worked on the Extreme Weather Snapshots with Maureen, which we put together and aired in November, a month before the Christmas Blizzard hit Buffalo.

It was the second record snowfall in less than a month, from the 78 inches dropped in Orchard Park and then 64.7 at Christmas. It is the most snow in New York State to fall between Buffalo and Tug Hill for the 2022 – 2023 snow season.

I have pictures and 2 time-lapsed footage of the Christmas Weekend Blizzard of 2022 from my apartment in the City of Buffalo, where I only lost power for 24 hours.

This is a link to my timelapse and pictures from the blizzard of 2022 and give you a look at what that Friday looked like for me when the blizzard hit https://photos.app.goo.gl/ADLsKhi8LG76hWGm7.

Some of the issues that the county of Erie and the City of Buffalo had to deal with were the amount of snow that fell in the county and the number of trapped or stranded vehicles. High winds reduced visibility to zero; streets became impassable. Tragically, the City had the highest number of deaths.

One of the more unique problems was that the power substations that are built in what look like fake buildings ended up becoming frozen. Because of the way the heat systems in those substations operate, some of the stations did not allow the snow to pass through nor had very good snow barriers to prevent snow from building up in them; the accumulation of snow and ice inside them caused the grid to crash in certain parts of the City of Buffalo.

A National Grid Substation was frozen by snow and required blast heaters to melt the snow to get them back up and running

Thank you for joining us today. Next week we will talk about some of the notable women in the history of Greece.

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A Civic Club’s Legacy

The residents of the Town of Greece enjoy a variety of parks within the Town. Their features and size are certainly diverse, from the 577-acre Greece Canal Park to the 4-acre Henpeck Park.

But their history and names are just as varied. Most parks names are either derived from their location such as Braddock Bay Park or from a prominent Greece native such as Carter, Badgerow, or Basil Marella Parks. But one park, first developed for recreation in 1934, is named after a Hilton doctor.

It all began in 1924 When Dr. Sherwood Sawyer and his wife purchased a parcel of land near the intersection of Latta Road and Long Pond Road from William Hogan. Dr. Sawyer had purchased and developed other properties in the Parma area, so we can assume he planned on developing this land at some time in the future. But with the onslaught of the depression, the town did not develop quite as fast as the doctor had assumed.

Meanwhile, Boy Scout Troop 14 at Barnard School needed a sponsor. It seems the troop had been sponsored by a series of different groups since forming in 1926 but by 1935 they were in need of a permanent responsible spon­sor. A group of concerned citizens stepped forward with a proposed program for the troop that would eventually benefit the entire Town of Greece.

In early 1935 a group of Greece men from the Dewey/Stone area formed a committee to sponsor the troop, calling themselves the Barnard Civic Club and civic-minded they were. Their first order of business was to find a suitable campsite for the boys. They found the property owned by Dr. Sawyer perfect for their purpose and the doctor of­ fered the property to the club for $400.00.

Mrs. Antoinette Grabowski of Stone Rd gave the scout treasurer $2.00 for the express purpose of starting the campsite fund. The remainder of the fund was raised by public subscription. $ 1.00 Certificates were sold with the in­scription “Invest in Youth of Today for Better Manhood of Tomorrow”.

The Civic Club purchased the property, and scouts planted trees donated by the State, built a cabin, and for many years camped on this site. They called their special place “Camp Sawyer”.

As the years passed, private camps run by individual scout troops became less common and their campsite fell into disuse. A Scout camp operated and maintained by the Scout Council had opened nearby in Webster and other op­portunities opened up with the availability of cheap transportation.

In 1958 the site was offered to the Town of Greece as long as it was used for public recreation. It took a decade but in 1970 it officially opened as a town park.

Dr. Sawyer died in 1944, the Barnard Civic Club eventually folded, and Troop 14 lasted until 1979, but the legacy of that Boy Scout troop, the civic-minded group, and the Hilton doctor lives on in a pleasant picnic ground and park behind the YMCA known today as Sawyer Park.

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