Fire Department’s History Symbolized by Old Fire Bell
(Text Transcribed from Post Register Article on Aug 5, 1950)
A huge, old bell that called out the fire ladies to extinguish the community’s fires in the early days sounds no more.But it is appropriately preserve on the roof of the City Buildings as a fitting memorial to the fireman who have protected the lives and property of the city over the years.
The bell used to hang in a tower near the city’s old fire stations and was run to summon the volunteer firemen.
It was in the late 1890’s that the city’s first fire department came into being in a small frame fire house on Eagle Rock St. with a man-drawn hose cart as the extent of its fire fighting equipment.
Ed Wynn Was First Chief.
Oddly enough, the first fire chief in the city, then known as Eagle Rock was a man by the name of Ed Wynn, now deceased. But he was no relation to the famed radio comedian by the same name who made the title of fire chief so popular on the air waves.
Hose Company No. 1 was established Sept. 10, 1902, in quarters no occupied by Scott’s Book Store on Broadway. Its chief then was the late A. D. Wright, the father of Wroth D. Wright, prominent local businessman and civic leader.
Around 1905 the fire department acquired a team of horses that was the pride and joy of the volunteer fireman who served at the time of J.W. Gayley was chief. The station was then located in a small frame building about where the City Cleaners now has its place of business.
Later larger facilities were needed to keep pace with the growing community and the fire department was moved into a one-story brick building that stood where the two-story S. H. Kress C. store is now situated. At first, they had one horse-drawn fire wagon and a motorized fire apparatus.
Hook Up Team
Retired Fire Chief L.G. (Laef) Jackson, who still resides here, recalls, “Back in those days they offered $2.50 to the fellow who got the first team of horses to the fire station and the wagon hooked up after the fire bell sounded.”
It was during the late Fire Chief Julius A. Marker’s long tenure who served as chief for 28 years until his death in 1938, that the department acquired its first motor vehicle—an American La France pumper truck—in 1916. Later, a Broadway hose and chemical truck was purchased in 1919. Both of these have been replaced with more modern firefighting equipment.
A hook and ladder truck was obtained in 1930, the year the new fire station in the City Building was completed. City officials and firemen are hopeful that this now somewhat outdated piece of equipment will be replaced by an up-to-date aerial truck.
It was in 1937 that a Seagrave 750-gallon capacity pumper truck was acquired, and ten years later, an American La France 750-gallon pumper truck was added. Another Seagrave pumper truck was purchased in 1953, having a 1,200 gallon capacity. The latest apparatus was purchased this year, an American La France 1,000 gallon pumper truck.
Easter Side Station Established
The Easter Side Fire Station on Eighth St. started operation in 1953. Personnel of the fire department now numbered 41. There are now six motorized pieces of equipment, including the Snake River Mutual Fire Insurance Co. pumper truck, which is at the department’s disposal. Four are housed in Station No. 1 downtown and two at Station 2 on the Easter side. In addition, the department has a fire chief’s car, assistant chief’s car, two inspectors’ vehicles and a pickup truck.
Mr. Jackson, then assistant chief, became fire chief on the death of Mr. Marker. When Jackson retired, Assistant Chief Bert O. Brown became chief and still serves in that capacity. Serving under Brown as assistant chief is Parley E. Gillen.
Other personnel of the department include Ed Elg, Tom Jephson, Morgan Parks, Marvin Kirby, Earl Danielson, William Donnelly, and Carl Poulter, all captains; A.D. Meed, battalion chief and fire inspector: Edwin Anderson, E.J. Smith, Christ Jockumsen, Byron Taylor and Claude Cox, lieutenants; Eli M. Taylor, inspector;
(Click photo above for bigger image)
Additional Note from the Bonneville County Historical Society Reading and Reference Room:
The fire bell was removed from the Idaho Falls City building Sept. 16, 1985 and was relocated to the Bonneville Museum which is now the Museum of Idaho.