Ironton Fire Department has changed greatly since 1858

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 1, 2004

My, how far we have come!

In 1858, 81 citizens of the newly created Village of Ironton signed on to be the first line of fire

protection. They were grocers, riverboat captains, hardware store owners, brick makers, mill men, blacksmiths, lawyers and butchers, only to mention a few.

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Of course, Ironton's number one citizen - John Campbell - was an important part of this.

These men formed two stations. One was called "Good Will" and the other was called "Good Intent." In their efforts, they tried to save lives and they risked life and limb each time. The men and women who serve in the fire service today share this fact with their forefathers.

In 1872, an ordinance was passed to officially establish a fire department for the city of Ironton. This ordinance established the conduct of a fireman, outlined fines for impeding their work and set the rate of pay at $1 if they showed up to a fire. Even then it was against the law to cross a hose with a wagon or interfere with a fireman.

A year later, water line mains were installed to provide water pressure for the fire wagons and the hand pumpers. Ironton was on its way.

Station number one was located on Fourth and Buckhorn, the second at Third and Walnut and the third station at Third and Clinton streets. All three were under the command of a captain and elected officers.

By 1909, the fire department had grown to nine men and six horses.

In 1912, the department added its first motor pumper ladder and reel truck.

The next technical jump came with the fire signal system installed by the Gamewell Company that controlled a mockingbird whistle located at the city water works. A combination of blasts of the mockingbird whistle alerted the men to the location of the fire. This service was discontinued in 1919 when a new alarm system was installed.

In 1919, the old station at Third and Walnut was condemned by the state and the next day insurance was canceled in the old building. Chief George went to council and proposed that a new station be built at Fourth and Jefferson, since the city owned that property. Local residents around the Walnut street area fought the proposal, but lost.

Later that year, the city established a fund of $8,500 to build a new station. Seven months later, the new station was completed. The alarm system control was removed from the mayor's office on Third and Park. George Electric, upon notification, had the control system moved to the station and operational in just a few hours.

The old station served the city and men well through the years, until a decision was made to build this new station. It will now serve as the home to the new fire equipment and the men that man the station.

The department now has a training center, quarters equipment, storage areas, offices for the chief and fire inspector, physical training room, equipment room to recharge oxygen bottles - all state-of-the-art for a great city and the men that protect our city.

We have one of the best-trained fire departments and the property that has been saved is a testament to its ability to perform as well as any large fire department in the country.

To the mayor and council, craftsmen, engineers and fire service officers who worked so hard to make this a reality, I say "well done and may this new station be a credit, not only to us now, but to the old firefighters who also served in years gone by."

Ironton has a great history and I am proud to be a part of it. This is only a small part of the Ironton Fire Department's history and the stories of the men who protected us.

Information has been researched from the old minutes of the city council, The Irontonian newspaper and other books that have been published about Ironton.