In this first of a two-part article, we are going to be looking back on the history of the fire companies here in Springville and how they evolved.
In September of 1842, the Hook and Ladder Company was organized with a membership of 10. Equipment consisted of leather buckets and hook and ladder wagon. It is said that some wagons were pulled by horses and some by men. When a fire occurred, a brigade was formed to pass the buckets of water from one man to the next with the water coming from the nearest pond, stream or water source to the fire.
Most of the buildings at this time were of wooden construction and these bucket brigades had several disastrous fires. One of these fires happened on Sunday, June 7, 1868.
When “Fire! Fire!” was heard, people were in churches and there was a rush to run out of the doors to see where the location of the fire was and to see what they could do to assist. This fire had started in a clothing store and was spreading rapidly. At that time most of the stores shared a common wooden wall, thus nothing to stop the flames from spreading.
T.J. Morris was severely burned while trying to save the town’s clerk documents, but it was in vain. At this fire, everything from the Concord Land Reality to the brook burned down. Losses amounted to $28,350. The buildings that housed the Brown’s Shoe Store and the Union Block were built afterward out of brick. The others were rebuilt of wood.
In August 1873, the equipment of the Hook and Ladder was put to use again when there was a fire on the cheese factory roof. The third floor was damaged, but after three hours of long, hot work, the firemen were able to save the building. In 1875, there was yet another major fire, of six buildings on Main Street, with the loss being at $20,000.
The Hook and Ladder Company, with the consent of the village, incorporated on May 18, 1878. In 1879, the three-story opera house at 9-11 East Main St. was on fire, and all the buildings from there to Buffalo Street were burned. Shortly after that fire, a group of businessmen met and suggested that there should be an increased number of firemen for more adequate protection.
Thus, the Independent Engine Company was organized with 15 men.
On Feb. 1, 1882, the Fountain Hose Company was formed and in 1935 became the Springville Fire Department. In May of 1882, a Hand Pumper Fire Engine was purchased for $650 from Seneca Falls. The engine had 400 feet of hose, could shoot a stream of water 73 feet high and could pump 55 gallons of water in 15 seconds. 1882 was also the year that the Fire Company joined the State Fire Association. Maurice Hall the Fire Chief was appointed the first delegate.
In 1892, land on South Buffalo Street was donated jointly to the Fire Company and the Civil War Veterans by J.P. Meyers. A fire hall was constructed south of the log cabin.
After the 1868 fire, the buildings from the Union Block to Pearl Street had been built of wood. Spring Brook went under one of them and the pond came right up to the rear of several of them. On Feb. 28, 1894, a fire was discovered in the Hein Building at 57 East Main St. The name is still on the front of the building if you look closely. The fire had a good start and spread rapidly in both directions. Because of the pond, it could only be fought on one side, and again the wooden buildings were destroyed.
In 1921, a new motorized equipment truck was purchased for $12,000. You can come down to the Lucy Bensley Center and read all about it yourself on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on the second and fourth Sundays of the month from 2-4 p.m.
If the weather is iffy, feel free to call us at 592-0094 to verify we are open. Send us an email at email@example.com. If you have any ideas for a story, let me know, and I will try to work up an article to share here in the Springville Times! Come back next week for part two on the fire companies of Springville.