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The Adams Fire Co. is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and recently elected new officers. Here is the main firehall at 7113 Nash Road. (Photo by Karen Carr Keefe)
The Adams Fire Co. is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and recently elected new officers. Here is the main firehall at 7113 Nash Road. (Photo by Karen Carr Keefe)

Lauer to lead Adams Fire Co. into 100th year

Fri, Dec 15th 2023 11:00 am


On Dec. 3, Adams Fire Co. reelected Chief Donald A. Lauer to the position of fire chief at the annual company meeting.

Elected along with Lauer were: First Assistant Chief Kevin Hodgson, Second Assistant Chief Robert Pino and captains Travis Leaderstorf and Stephanie Sweeney.

Those newly elected officers take over during Adams Fire Co.’s 100th year of service to the Town of Wheatfield.

The company was founded May 1, 1924, at the home of George Toellner, after discussion in the fall of 1923. The discussion was prompted by a fire that burned down Fred Zastrow Sr.’s barn.

Elected at the meeting were Herman Schoenfeldt Sr., president; George Toellner, vice president; Walter Toellner, secretary; William Adams, treasurer; and William Gombert, Albert Beutel and Benjamin Toellner, trustees.

Most members gave $25 out of their own pockets to get the fire company started. William Adams agreed to give the fire department a 40-foot-by-60-foot lot on Niagara Falls Boulevard, where the members constructed a building. His donation prompted the membership to name the fire company after him – the Adams Fire Department of Nashville, New York. (Note: Nashville, New York, is a hamlet located in Niagara County within the Town of Wheatfield. Its exact location is by the Sawyer Creek Hotel, by Niagara Falls Boulevard and Nash Road.)

Lumber was donated by local lumber dealers, which gave the department enough money to purchase a fire truck. A Ford truck was ordered – complete with two chemical tanks – and placed inside the building.

From then to now, Adams Fire Co. Inc. continues to provide protection of life and property to anyone in need!

Lauer is a 1982 graduate of Niagara Wheatfield schools who spent eight years in the Army Reserve. He went to boot camp between 11th and 12th grade in the summer of 1981 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

He then graduated from high school, and went back to truck driving school at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He continues to drive tractor-trailers, working for the past 27 years as a member of Teamsters Local 449 for Leaseway Motor Carriers, PTS Logistics, and currently, Cassens Transportation, all of which deliver new automobiles to dealers on the East Coast.

Lauer joined the fire department as soon as he turned 18 and was sworn in on the first Wednesday of March 1982. He was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout, obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in 1982, all of which the Adams Fire Co. sponsored, and continue to sponsor to this day.

A lot of the company’s members are Eagle Scouts, and approximately eight continue to serve as active members at Adams.

“As an 18-year-old new member, I was just eager to learn and be part of a fire company I just couldn’t get enough of,” Lauer said. “I think most days in my 20s and 30s, if I was not at work, I was at the station or taking fire training classes.”

In 1987, Lauer took his first New York state EMT class at Niagara County Community College and has kept it current ever since. Also in 1987, Lauer was elected captain and has been elected to an assistant chief’s position, or chief since 1988.

“This is my third time holding the chief position, but first time being reelected back-to-back,” Lauer said. “I am humble to be leading such a great bunch of men and women, all volunteering their time in protecting the Town of Wheatfield residents. It’s a team effort – I just steer the ship. It’s the great members who make it who we are today, and our past members, who had a vision in protecting life and property 100 years ago!”

“I never would have thought I would still be doing this and leading Adams into the 100th year of service as chief – never, ever would I have thought this would happen,” he said.

A century after the company’s founding, Lauer said the company is going strong: “We’re resilient. There’s not as many active members as when I joined in the early ’80s, but we’re still getting the job done, with lots of people.

While fire companies across the state struggle to bring new members on board, Lauer said Adams Fire Co. did well recruiting with its summer outreach into the community. The key to success, he said, was “just going out into the community and just telling them ‘We need you to step up when we’re in a time of need,’ and talk to them and explain what our (recruitment) process is.”

He said you have to live within 3 miles of either station to apply for membership. The main hall is at 7113 Nash Road, and a substation is at 3805 Klemer Road.

“I want to thank our residents for supporting Adams Fire Co. The new members who have stepped up and volunteered this year are amazing. Between our new members recruited this year (about five or six) during the summer campaign, and three returning members, we continue to provide exceptional service to our residents,” Lauer said. “I also want to thank our residents for their fund drive contributions every year, so we can continue our mission.”

“Stay safe and be nice to one another,” Lauer said.

Karen Carr Keefe contributed to this report.

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