Springville Journal

Let’s learn about the beginning of the Springville Fire Companies – Part 1

The following is a guest article from Jolene Hawkins of the Concord Historical Society:

In 1868, a Hook and Ladder Company was trying to form here in Springville, and by 1870 they were established and having regular meetings. In a 1870 newspaper, there was talk that the Hook and Ladder company was proposing to get a steam fire engine and have pipes laid out in the town with fire hydrants to help when putting out fires. The following were elected officers: Bertrand Chaffee was the Foreman; Jeremy Smith, Assistant Foreman; C.S. McMillan, Secretary and M. L. Hall, Treasurer. 

In 1872, a pump, that was attached to one of the Lefell’s double turbine water wheels, conducted water to pipes that were underground to five different hydrants, so situated as to meet any fire that appeared in the business portion of the village east of Water Street or within 400 feet of the Mill or Foundry. This pump had a lever that could be thrown in gear and ready to operate within five minutes, to bring on the whole force of the water upon any fire within the district. In addition to the water force pump, which had plenty of hose, the Hook and Ladder Company had ladders, hooks, chains, cables and a fine carriage, along with fifty leather buckets to be used.

1877 had these officers listed for the Hook and Ladder Company #2: President, L.B. Nichols; Foreman, Spencer Widrig; First Assistant, Philetus Widrig; Second Assistant, Will House; Secretary, Ed Flanagan and Treasurer, George Bradford. That same year, $150 was raised for better equipment for the fire company. A report that was turned into the town listed the fires that they attended in 1877. The first fire occurred on May 4 (after they were officially organized on April 30). It was on the roof of A.L. Vaughan’s Pump Factory. The fire was extinguished with but a little loss. The second fire occurred on July 1 in the wing of Frank Nason’s house. Water was scarce, the fire company had good success in using wet gravel as an extinguisher. There were a few minor fires after that with little to no damage that was done until March 14 of 1878 when A.L. Vaughan Pump Factory once again caught on fire and the alarm was given too late to do anything for the building itself and their attention was turned to saving the properties nearby.

The fire company always, even today, will be part of the parades here in town. In 1877,  apparently, there were problems with young boys harassing them during the parades. As this article was in the Springville Journal: “A Diminutive Riot.” Small boys, boys that are old enough to know better, have been in the habit of annoying our Hook and Ladder Company on its parades of late, throwing mud and stones at the procession as it passes along our streets and making themselves otherwise obnoxious to the firemen. On Monday night, the malicious crew was ready with water. Stones and other missiles to attack the company when it made its appearance upon Main Street after the drill which took place at the rear of the Opera House. Anticipating an attack, the boys of the Hook and Ladder Company divided into two sections, and as section one came upon the street at the point anticipated, the “mob of young boys” started throwing items at them. Meanwhile, section two had swung around to the rear of the attacking party, with buckets well filled with water, swooped down upon them in becoming military style and discharged the contents of their buckets upon them, which then they beat a hasty retreat, with some of that mob being well drenched.

By 1878, the fire company had red shirts that they wore when they attended a fire. Come back next week for part 2.

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