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Mt. Pulaski , Illinois
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July 13, 1961     Times
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July 13, 1961
 

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EDFrlON (TIm.News, ML PulazkL 111.) THUIDAY, jULY 13, 1961 Fire Department Organized In 1885 ORGANIZATIO N STILL] IG STRONG AFTER 76 YEARS Tradition Down To Firemen M.h 14, 1935 ago yesterday, 13, 1935, there in Mt. Pulaski, Ill., re Department, an brought state- and recognition to three successive today stands as one equipped and most departments of any three times its size of men, alive to their community just passing out period, met on and after due organized to give citizens the benefit considered a much in the corn- combat the demon Young men formed ld were listed as in their first Lhe office of F. V. these charter mere. are still living. Schafer and H. residents of Mt. Courthou U build up or equip themselves, these young enthusiasts resort. ed to such affairs as masquer, ades, balls, strawberry festivals, 4th of July celebrations and fairs, to keep their treasury supplied with funds. The result was that at the end of the first year they had a balance of $158.3 in the treasury. The support of the pub- lic and its enthusiasm became stronger each year, Their next piece of flreflght, ing equipment consisted of a h a n d p u m p e r called "Little Giant" which required the efforts A system of alarms was then adopted so that members of the :department would know what part of town the fire was in when the alarm was sounded. Fire signals were arranged as follows: East, one tap; South, two taps; West, three taps; North, four taps. This method was con- tinued until a Gamewell fire a- larm system was installed with of 10 or 12 men to manage when a box in each ward and was us-throwing water on a fire. This ed until the present siren was iwas used for a number of years put in during Mayor Clear's ad- when it was partially replaced ministration with a gasoline service truck and The question of a suitable un-[later an American LaFratlce iform was solved by each mem-lpumper- ber agreeing to pay for his own, I First State Tourney later to .be refund_ed J:Oe d t.[ They entered their first state treasury II tunas wa . tournament in Lincoln in Octo- The uniform selected consistecl o ber 1886, and won $50 in pri square blue caps, blue shirt:s money and that added new fuel with red shield and brass out- to the ambition of the depart- tons, with the initials of com- pany on the shield and a white belt with the name of the com- pany on it. Trousers were their ordinary clothing. Drilling was one of the first steps taken to build up the efficiency of the department that no time be lost in their combat- ing fires. Regular drills were held Wednesday night once a month and consisted of instru- ment and foot drills. Instrument drills consisted of hook and lad- der training while the foot drills were ordinary platoon work. Later the drilling was extend- ed to twice a month and in the summer mohths a regular weekly drill was held. The drills were first held at the east side of the square. And when drilling for competition iti the state firemen's tournaments, practice was held every night at the race track on the north edge of the city just south of the place where Carl Dittus now lives. The sincerity of the purpose of this organization and the faith of its members can be rio better illustrated and proven than by their earnest enoeavot to build a department that would be a credit to the city and a matter of pride to the members. Hav- ing no funds With which to ment. The years that brought fame and glory as well as considerable cash prize money to the depart- ment was in 1891-92-93. Winning their first state championship with their running team at i Lincoln in 1891, the citizens be-! i gan to realize just what a worth- while and important organiza- tion had grown up in their midst almost overnight and thru their own efforts. Training became more Intens- ive than ever and the state tournament the next year at Ot- tawa was looked forward to eagerly and again the local d- partment came home with the bacon. And the reception they received from their fellow citiz- ens was so enthusiastic that the welfare of the department was fully assured as far as the spot they held in the hearts of their neighbors was concerned. Won Third Successive Tourney Realizing that the winning of the championship the following year which would make it three straight years, would give them permanent possession of the gold badge championship, greater efforts than ever were put forth to speed up their work and low- er if possible the other records methods at first crude but were a over no sys. Equipment con- a Babcock fire Which was carried of a fireman and to by one making the run it on his back. ng toward the pro- Public and seeking Lish greater protec. added reason for and growth, the to place a of a Babcock all public gather- the town board one at Scroggin Was the public gath- " and on the second they nad made. They trained I same. intensively that summer and the The only members of the de- time of 35 2:5 seconds they made partment who belonged in cham. was the lowest they had ever i pionship days in active service made and it was good enough', to again win the state champion- ship at Canton and have the dis- tinction of being the only team in the state that ever accomp- lished the feat. Needless to state the large delegation that ac- companied them on a special excursion to Canton that year was hilarious with joy and pride and a thrilling celebration was held following the race and upon their return home. This feat of winning the tro- phy three times in succession dllualified the team from furth- er state competition in hose rac- ing. Joined New State 'm The local department joined the state assOCiation which was formed in Clinton, IlL, Jan. 8, 1880, and have since been active members. M. J. Myers, a mem- ber of the department and a former chiex, is now serving as vice-president of the state associ- ation, a position he has held for a number of years, was president two years and treasurer 10 years, ment, which consists of Ameri. In reading thru the minutes: can LaFrance pumper hook and Of the early life of the organi- zation One of the acts that show- ed the calibre of the men form. tng the organization was their solicitous care of a member of th organization who was out of work, had little money and was confined to his home by sick- ness, The members not having sufficient funds in their treas- ury to engage a nurse, took turns! staying with their sick buddy at nights until he had recovered. Today the Phoenix Fire Depart- ment numbers 20 members and Fireman's Hall located above the fire station, is a cozy homelike room, carpeted, well lighted and lThe rooms above the postoffice decorated with numerous troph-iwere also used for a meeting ies, badges and pictures of the place until the city built the members of the department and present city hall when a room conventions and tournaments, was prepared for their use. rells Meetings are held regularly on the first Friday of each month and the attendance is seldom be- loW 18 which is a remarkable tribute to the faithfulness of the members most of whom were not members in the championship days but are carrying on Just the are G. C. Zah, C. J. Kautz, hl. J. Myers, F. B. Snyder, Gus Dro- bisch. And of these Gus Dro- bisch and G. C. Zah are the only members of the championship running teams. L.F. Weidenbach- er is still a resident here but not a member of the department. G. C. Zah Oldest Member In years of membership G. C. 'Pacer' Zah is the oldest member in the service and last year was presented a gold badge as mark of respect by his fellow members. 'Pacer' joined the department on July 3, 1885, four months after its organization and but for an unfortunate illness at the time of the forming of the department would have been a charter mem- ber. The department is fully uni- formed today with blue uniforms which are worn only on occas- ions of city wide observance and celebrations and their appear- ance cannot but give one a feel- ing of pride and a sense of com- fort. For their firefighting equip- ladder truck, gasoline service truck fully equipped, and a wat- er system and hydrants and wat- er pressure that is superior to many large cities, fire hazards are at a minimum in the city of Mt. Pulaski. Hold Regular Meetings The first meetings of the de- )artment were held in a build- ing located on the northeast part of the block of ground in which the post office now stands. It was soon converted into a fire house and the city erected a building later to house the hook and lad- der equipment and hand pumper. were sunk on the northeast cor- ner and a huge wooden tank erected into which water was pumped furnished the wat:r pressure for fire needs around the square. A two-inch pipe ran a- (Continued on next page) FIREHGHTERS FROM "WAY BACH WHEN" AND THEIR "MODERN" EQUIPMENT i: i