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Our History

The First Recorded Alarm

Late in the year 1935, a group of men met in a tavern owned by Leo Gramse, located at the corner of Main and Ferndale. In 1936, the Main-Transit Fire Department was formed, with Charles Wetzel serving as the first Chief, and Leo Gramse serving as the first president. Within the first year, the department grew to have 60 members.

The first recording alarm was a grass fire on April 5th, 1936, which was extinguished with shovels, rakes and brooms. The same day, the decision was made to purchase the department's first piece of apparatus, a Model "T" Ford chemical truck from Cuba, New York. In 1938, the land where Station #1 now stands was purchased, and a two-bay building was erected.

In the early 1950's, the Community Volunteer Fire Department located across the street, merged with Main-Transit. 1954, a four-bay fire-resistant firehouse was erected. 1955 brought about the origination of the "Slo-Pokes" Firematic Tournament Team. Original members included Russ Swanson, George Karl, Jr., Ron Chipman, Bob Leising, Jerry Hoffman, Horace Henning, John Ulrich, Art O'Leary, Earl Metzinger, Fred Wysocki and Al Maue. Each member contributed $5.00 towards the purchase of their racing vehicle, a 1949 Ford convertible. This became the first "C" truck. The old Engine #2 was used for a "B" truck.

In 1965, Station #2 was constructed to house two pumpers and one rescue vehicle. In the 1970's, the annual Field Days were held the second Saturday of every July. This major fund raising event involved the efforts of the entire fire department, their families, the Ladies' Auxiliary and the Exempts. 1976 featured the rebirth of the "Slo-Pokes" Racing Team. The 1980's found tremendous growth taking place all over the Town of Amherst, but the Main-Transit Fire Department experienced the fastest growth of all. Apparatus and equipment purchases were needed to keep pace with the growing residential and commercial populations, and Main-Transit increased to include 4 pumpers, 1 ladder truck, 2 rescue vehicles and 1 ambulance. Eventually, 3 chief vehicles and 2 utility vehicles were also purchased.

The 1990's found Main-Transit hosting their first New York State Drill Team and Captains Associations' Championship Tournament and Parade. The department constructed the "George J. Karl Firematic Training Facility," named in honor of the late George Karl, Jr., past chief and former Slo-Poke team member. George Karl is the only member of the Main-Transit Fire Department to have died in the line of duty. 2000's State Drill was the fourth time that Main-Transit has hosted the event since 1990.

Most recently MTFD has been host of the Mercy Flight Charity Tournament in June of 2001. After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the department's members raised over $21,000 for the families of the fallen firefighters in NYC, and sent a crew of four EMT's in our Rescue 8 to assist at the scene.