The Westons Mills Fire District proudly protects 1200 people living in an area of 19.2 square miles. We operate out of 1 station that protects a primarily rural area. Our department is a public department whose members are on a volunteer status. The Kinney Hose Company, Inc was formed in 1928 by Louis Kinney our founder and first chief and we proudly carry on his name today. We have 34 members on the roster at present. We cover the northwest corner of the Town of Portville and Eastern portion of the Town of Olean bordering the City of Olean. We have one ladder truck, two engines, one pumper/tanker, one brush/rescue vehicle, one utility vehicle, two boats, and two ALS ambulances.
The name Westons Mills was derived from the lumber mill which was located at the eastern end of what is now Chestnut Street. The owner of the mill was Doug Weston. It was really quite a complex for the time. Prior to 1912, this community, now known as Westons Mills, had no organized fire protection of its own. In the event of a fire the lumber mill would shut down milling operations and haul the pumps and hoses from their ponds to the fire. After the mill moved to Olean, there was no fire protection at all in Westons Mills between 1912 and and 1920 and the community here had to depend on Portville or Olean whenever a fire occurred. During that period, there were two major fires. Both the General Store and the School House were destroyed.
From 1920 through 1931, members of the community met often to discuss organizing a fire department. In 1928, Louis Kinney acquired a 2-wheeled chemical cart which he stored at his residence. Then Louis and the community as a whole responded to and fought all of the fires together. In September of 1931, the Westons Mills Fire Department was organized with a total of 30 members. Their first meetings were held at Lundberg Granite which was also the former site of Maggie' Draperies. In 1932 the Portville Fire Department donated to the company a Model T Truck on which a 50-gallon fire extinguisher was located. With the use of that extinguisher the men fought their first fire, which was a grass fire, at the Bossler Place on Route 417 across from what is now Ashley Furniture. The first major fire was at the Martin Farm on the Haskell Road where the Hedden Building currently stands.
Our original fire station was located on the East side of Route 417 where the Westons Mills Post Office currently sits. In 1953, the department approximately 200 yards up and across the road to the old school house, which is our current location today. In 1977 the school house was torn down and a new addition was added to the fire station which made its grand opening in 1978. In the spring of 2000, ground breaking took place for a new addition to the building which included a truck bay and a "smoking room" for BINGO. However in the spring of 2011, the "smoking room" was converted into the new fireman's clubrooms. In 1934 the name Westons Mills Fire Department was changed to the Kinney Hose Company in memory of our founder and first fire chief Louis Kinney. In August of that year the department joined the Southwestern Association of Volunteer Firemen. On June 20, 1936, our department became a member of the Cattaraugus County Volunteer Fireman's Association and on June 14, 1938 we joined the Fireman's Association of the State Of New York. Records are unclear as to when the department joined the Western New York Association of volunteer Firemen but we are members of that association also. The Kinney Hose Company became Incorporated on May 22, 1945.
A First Aid Squad was formed around 1940 to assist the people of Westons Mills during time of injury or sickness. Until the purchase of our first ambulance, a LaSalle Wagon (which was a hearse from the local funeral home) was used for transport of patients. Then, around 1960, it was officially agreed that the Kinney Hose Company would provide ambulance services to the Town of Portville and the fire district. Our ambulance service has been New York State certified and operating two ambulances since 1976. In 1988, the service became IV certified through the Olean General Hospital. In 1991 a Laerdal Heartbeat 3000 AED and all EMT's became Defibrillator certified. This unit was updated in 1993. In 1991 we became the first agency to sign with Olean General Hospital for medical command Level 3/Paramedic capabilities and went on line on May 20, 1994 with one ambulance set up for Paramedic capabilities and the other used for Intermediate level capabilities. At our monthly meeting on May 8, 1996, we decided to purchase a Marquette 1500 AED Pacemaker/Defibrillator combo unit. At that time both ambulances were made Paramedic capable upon delivery. In 2000, both defib units were replaced with identical Zoll combo machines. It is interesting to note that the ambulances purchased since the start of BINGO in 1973 have been completely paid for by BINGO proceeds. Today, our department has 3 Paramedics, 8 EMT's, and 2 CFR's. In 2017 we were awarded a FEMA Grant to purchase 2 new Zoll monitor/defibrillators for each ambulance, they were placed into service October 2017.
As stated above, the Hose Company started BINGO in 1973. It continues to be a major fund raiser to this day. In 1992, in attempt to raise funds for hosting the Southwestern Convention, the $25 ticket party fundraiser was formed. That also continues to be a major fundraiser for the department (although it is now the $20 ticket party) as well as Bell Jar which was started in July 1993. Some of the purchases made from these fund raisers have been air-packs, 2 Defibrillators, and new marching uniforms. We have also been able to donate to the City of Olean toward the purchase of a Thermal Imaging Camera.
Prior to 1983, the Hose Company was entirely a male department. In September 1983, Sharon Pounds (Putt) was asked to join the department because of her extensive assistance during calls while a member of the Auxiliary. Kathy O'Dell (Caya) followed a month later. Over the years, we have had as many as seven women members, but today, only two remain. They are Dori Putt and Kristen Jedrosko. It was around 1937 that the Westons Mills Fireman's Auxiliary was organized to assist the department in any way that they could. They provided meals, financial and overall support for the department up until the end of 2012.
Since the grass fire across from Ashley Furniture and the Martin Farm fire, The Kinney Hose Company has had to respond to many major emergencies in our district. In 1956, the present Donovan's Eastern Supply was virtually destroyed by fire, Westons Shoppers City had a fire in their storeroom in 1967, and in 1973 Campbell Oil Company had a potentially dangerous tanker fire in their lot. In a period of less than a month (December 1981 and January 1982) the department fought 3 barn fires and a fire that destroyed a local tavern. In 1982, we saw Mastel Ford go up in flames and Haskell Sub and Service Station was destroyed by flames in 1983. In September of 1984 Willard Business Machines was destroyed by fire and in March 1986 the Olean Steel Office building was damaged. We had a major HAZMAT incident in May 1987 at what is now Cooper Power. There was a fire at the new manufacturing building involving an aluminum byproduct. During the fall of 1996, we fought a fire at Seibert Auto Sales and on January 24, 2000, a major fire severely damaged J&R Auto.
The Kinney Hose Company has also been busy with mutual aid for many surrounding communities. Our department along with Allegany Engine Company are on 3rd alarm for Olean City Fire Department for structure fires. We have responded to many fires in the city including the First Presbyterian Church in 1977, Olean Printing in 1978, Knights of Columbus Lodge in 1980, Downtown Deli in 1981, Precinct Bar in 1989, Askey General Supply in 1990, and the Elks Club in 1992. We have also responded to many fires in Shinglehouse, PA, Allegany, Portville, Hinsdale, Limestone, Town of Olean, Knapp Creek, Bolivar, Cuba, and Eldred, PA. Some of the major fires in those towns were Hinsdale Central School, Crown-Y in Cuba, Dusenbury Mansion in Portville, Rocky Crest Apartments in Knapp Creek, Eurosaw Sawmill in Shinglehouse, Stead Lumber in Portville, Swatt's Bakery in Olean, Baldwins Forest Products in Bolivar, and Cabana Apartments And St James in Cuba.
High waters and floods have also been known to occur in our area. There have been major floods from the Allegany River in 1942, 1972, 1996, and 2010. The department has also assisted with flooding in Yorkshire in 1998 and Eastern NY flooding in 2010 from Hurricane Irene.
The department originally started with three vehicles in the 1930's. We had two engines and a squad car. Our present fleet consists of two engines, one pumper/tanker, one ladder truck, one off-road Polaris Ranger, two boats, one pick-up truck, and two ambulances. We also have two sets of Jaws of Life which are carried on the engines.
Due to increasing specialty call requests, we have partnered with the Allegany Fire Department/Allegany Engine Company to form a Technical Rescue Team. This team is trained in swift water rescue, ice rescue, rescues requiring use of ropes and confined space situations. The combined team has been called out for water rescues in Shinglehouse, Hinsdale, Allegany, Gowanda and placed on stand-by for many other water situations.
On the lighter note, we have been marching in parades for over 70 years and have won many awards and trophy's. Among these, we have won the Southwestern Grand Trophy in 1982, 1990, 1994, 2001, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2016, 2017 and 2019. We have been the Cattaraugus County Volunteer Firemen's Association Grand Champions four times. New marching uniforms were purchased in 2001 that we still use today. Also, we have hosted the Southwestern on four different occasions: 1952, 1960, 1996, and 2008 (which was the 100th annual). We are on schedule to host this convention again in 2028 the 120th Annual along with our 100th year of service.