Tue Aug, 16 2022 @ 12:49
Nature: Medical Emergency
City: St Michaels
Tue Aug, 16 2022 @ 12:36
Nature: Medical Emergency
In early 1900, the Town of St. Michaels installed a water system, with 3 hydrants on Main (Talbot) Street and 1 hydrant on Fremont Street. Two hand hose carts were purchased by the town and kept at the pump house on Railroad Avenue (behind the Union Church). These were no more than a pair of wheels and an axle upon which several hundred feet of 2 and 1/2 inch hose was rolled; much like a garden hose is today. They were either pulled to a fire by hand or behind one of the few cars owned at that time by town residents.
There were always citizens around to help others in their time of need. Upon arrival at the fire, the amount of water used depended on how close to a hydrant the fire was, whether the water tower was full, and how brave you or your neighbor felt at the time. There was no 911, so you had to depend on someone hearing your calls for help or someone seeing the fire and ringing the Ships’ Bell, which is located on St. Mary's Square.
If you happened to live outside the town and had a fire, you relied on whatever was handy to try to control the fire. During these years, you made a point of being on good terms with your neighbors, because you never knew when you would have to count on their aid. The most that people could do in those years was to stand by and watch things burn.
After a series on major fires in town the time had come to formally organize a Fire Department. A meeting was held, bylaws were adopted and a President was elected: Dr. L.V. Johnson, the Town Pharmacist.
Easton Gazette, Sat. Feb. 16, 1901”
“ST. MICHAELS FIRE DEPARTMENT ORGANIZED”
“A largely attended meeting was held in St. Michaels Monday night (February 11th) to organize a permanent fire company, to be known as St. Michaels Volunteer Fire Department.
Silas F. Lewis was chosen chief, and he appointed George C. Wales as first lieutenant, with Clarence Plummer, Chatham Jones and J. Elsbury Kirby as hosemen, and George W. Parrott, A.M. Thomas, C. S. Blades, Nicholas Seymour, Fletcher Fairbank and J.E. Holland as their assistants.
Charles E. Willey was appointed chief of the salvage corps, with Sidney Orem as his first lieutenant, and Clayton Larrimore, T.H.H. Blades, James B. Adams, Joseph Fairbank, John F. Baynard and Robert S. Dodson as assistants.
Oliver T. Fairbank was chosen captain of the hook and ladder company, with T. Nelson Townsend as his first lieutenant, and as his assistants, William Tarbutton, David E. Shockley, George O. Baynard, E.L. Jones and Walter Blades.”
In the 1920s, the town purchased a used Cadillac Hearse. The Fire Department cut it down for use as a hose truck to replace the two Hose Carts.
In 1925, St. Michaels experienced several large fires. One of which was at the “John S. Evans Foundry and Machine Shop”. This was a large two-story building located to the left of where the “St. Michaels Brewery” is today. This building burned completely.
In 1926, one hundred and three men of St. Michaels each contributed $1.00 for dues to formally charter the Fire Department. They had a dream of being able to help their friends and neighbors during fire emergencies. On April 20, 1926 a Certificate of Incorporation was issues. Thus, a totally volunteer fire and rescue organization became a reality. At the time of incorporation, the town purchased a new (1926) REO Speed Wagon truck chassis from Marshall’s Express Company. This truck was sent to Wilmington, Delaware, in order to be refitted as a Fire Truck. This was the first motorized Fire Truck of equipment to be located in the St. Michaels area, and was first used at a barn fire in Beverly. This engine, known as “Maggie”, is now on display in the firehouse.
In 1927, the St. Michaels Fire Department purchased a new American LaFrance Fire Truck. This was the first piece of fire equipment to be owned by the St. Michaels Fire Department. The Fire Department was allowed to purchase this truck through donations, just as our equipment is acquired today. Later, the town gave the REO Speed Wagon and the Cadillac hose truck to the Fire Department for the sum of $1.00 each.
The purchase of the American LaFrance made it possible to extend the Fire Department’s coverage to Easton, Oxford and the Tilghman Island area. The next pieces of equipment purchased were a 1930 Dodge, a 1940 Auto-Car and a 1945 Mack Fire Truck. All of these trucks have been sold to collectors over the years.
The first means used to notify the community in case of a fire was the Town Bell, at St. Mary’s Square, the Schools’ Bells and Church Bells’. When the first telephone system was installed (the Office with the operator switch board was located on the second floor of what is now the Carpenter Street Saloon). Of course there was the party line on which much information as to the happening was obtain by causal listeners, but the official process was for the operator to call designated members of the Fire Department who would alert others and when a siren was installed, go to the Station and activate the Siren.
The St. Michaels Fire Department’s range includes all areas from Arcadia Shores to Pot Pie Road. This area covers 130 square miles of land area and 120 miles of shore line and encompasses the surrounding waters.
The year-around resident population of the St. Michaels Fire Department’s area of responsibility is approximately 8,500. During the Tourist Session, the daily tourist and summer resident population adds an additional 5000 people, and, during special events, up to an additional 15,000 can be expected.
The Fire Department’s primary fund raising events for over 80 years is the Annual Fund Drive Letters sent out to residents and business and the annual Fireman’s Carnival. The Carnival has been anticipated throughout the year by all members of the community, since this is the annual gathering at which newborn babies are introduced, updates on family happenings are exchanged and general fellowship is enjoyed. This event continues today, and is viewed as the most significant community event of the year.
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