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Mt. Pulaski , Illinois
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July 21, 2010     Times
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Phoenix Fire Department Hosted Community Open House Celebrating Department's 125-Years of Service By Mike Lakin The community had the opportunity to see the equipment and memorabilia trac- ing the department's history from 1885 to 2010. Always a volunteer department, members of the Phoenix have taken great pride in serving the community over the past 125-years. The purchase of the first powered fire truck in 1917 did not end the use of man powered equipment. Even after 1917, Phoenix Volun- teers still pulled fire equip- ment to the scene of the fire. The fi're truck was used to pull the hose cart. Del~end- ing on how major the fire was, volunteers would pull the hose cart and the truck was used to pull the ladder wagon. The man-powered equipment was fully retired ip, the late 1920s to early 1930s. The last person your editor had the chanceto talk to with personal experience with the historic equipment was the late Roy Gasaway. Roy said that as a young man . he had often helped pull the While now historic antiques~ visitors had the oppor- tunity to see what fire fighting was like from the man- powered equipment used from 1885 until the first pow- ered equipment was purchased in 1917. The department's 1917fire truck was purchased to keep up with the times. But there was also that nudge from the Decatur .Review newspaper. When the Mt. Pulaski School burned down, the newspaper commented that part of the reason for the loss was Mt. Pulaski's "antiquated" fire equipment• Of course, Decatur had gasoline powered fire trucks by the early 1900s, but small towns like Mt. Pulaski did not. That com- ment from the Review nudged the city to purchase the 1917 fire truck. Plumbing - Heating - Cooling Backhoe Service- Septic Systems hose carts, equipment box, and ladder wagon to fire. He said there were two things that made the ladder'wagon the worse thing to pull. Pulling it up hill and pulling it down hill. Up hill required volunteers to not only pull, but to also push. And, down hill, you tried not to fall from the weight shoving you down the hill. Roy said the ladder wagon-going down hill - was the cause of more than a few injuries over the years it was used: The curious had comments while looking at the oldest fire equipment. Realizing time was an important factor in responding to a fire, one person commented, "'didn't it take some time for the equipment to be pulled to a fire?" It did take time, but neighbors were the key. When a fire broke out, neighbors would grab buckets and form a bucket bri- gade to throw water on the fire. While neighbors were the first responders, volunteers would run to the firehouse to gather the hose cart and other equipment and head to the fire to deliver the volume of water needed to put the fire out. In the early days, an entire neighborhood turned out; not to watch the fire, but to help put the fire out. While the mainline, big red, trucks answer calls - the older "white" trucks can still be called out to pump water when needed. As one volunteer commented the white truck are tricky to drive and the knowledge of how to drive them is something that is learned by experielce. One wrong move and the truck's dead in the street• And getting behind those fixed steering wheels of "sucking in thegut". The visiting public was all the trimmings• A good ' TIMES Photos sometimes requires quite a bit treated to popcorn, hotdogs, and turn-out was reported. 10 =: t~ ! b$ k=a Storage Space Available 500 S. Garden St. - Mt. Pulaski HARDWARE & GARDENS START,Ucn'r. sTXgr Full Service Hardware Store & Greenhouse Local Friendly Service - Independently Owned & Operated Open 7 Days a Week Mon. - Fri. 7:30Am - 6Pro Sat. 7:30Am - 5Pro Sun. lOAm - 3Pro www.facebook.com/johnsontruevalue 423 S. Washington St. - Mt. Pulaski HERIL" , !