Volunteer Fire Department

July 06, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Life in DuBois


           Following the early days of the bucket brigade and hand operated pumpers, we best remember the big horse drawn pumper and had drawn horse carts.

           A big steam pumper was located in an area near the present DuBois city building, with a pair of big horses stabled nearby.

           At the sound of the fire alarm, the horses were hitched within minutes, the boiler fired up, the driver in place and the apparatus ready to roll.  But it was the hand drawn hose carts, located in each of the five wards, that were the most fascinating.

           A long rope centered around the front of the heavy cart provided pull power for about 15 men, with another pair in the rear for breaking purposes.

           It was an exhausting experience, the long runs to various sections of the city, and by the time the volunteers reached the scene of the fire, it took a view more moments to get the hose attached to the hydrants.

           We remember on a few occasions of exuberance, we took our place on the line, but were probably more of a hindrance than a help on such occasions.

           Ladders were limited to a second story but there was not much need to go any higher.

           Motorized equipment did not come into being until around 1915 and after that it was all downhill, as far as responding to an alarm was concerned.

           The city at present, is protected by the most modern of equipment and a dedicated group of firemen, that respond to an alarm within a matter of minutes.

           The same competition between the wards that existed in the older days is still present as attested by the annual firemen’s day events, the first week of June.

           It was on that date in 1888 that a devastating fire wiped out the central part of DuBois; it will never be forgotten in the annals of the department.

           Ten days after the Big Fire of June 18, 1888 the DuBois Volunteer Department was born out of the bitter experience of seeing the city practically leveled within a period of eight hours.

           That was the beginning of a department that today numbers well over one thousand men.

           The first company organized was the Volunteer, Second Ward June 25, 1888.  Next came Friendship Fifth Ward, then VanTassel (later J. E. DuBois Third Ward) then Fourth Ward and the last company Goodwill in the Fifth Ward.

           As previously noted, the First Chief was James Whitehall followed by J. O. Moulthrop, Jack Griemer, William Ditchburn, William Wilson, O. S. Sutter, J. P. Kressler, O. G. Olson, J. E. Johnson, M. S. Jones, M. P. Anderson, Selo Emmett, C. L. DeMott, Paul McGregor, L. K. Johnson, James Osborn, Fred Peterson, P. B. Dillman, J. L. Chambers, and John Hodge to the golden anniversary period.

           Modern equipment and dedicated volunteers have elevated the department to one of the finest in the state.

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