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Fire Department History

In the beginning in pursuance of an Act of the General Assembly of the State of Indiana entitled "An Act to authorize the formation of Voluntary Associations" approved May,13th 1852 do hereby subscribe and agree to be governed by the following Articles of Association, and such By-Laws as may from time to time be adopted, not inconsistent with said Articles.
 
Article I.
This Association shall be known by the name of the "Marion Fire Company," and shall have for its object the prevention of losses by fire.
 
This said Article I of X was filed in the Clerk's Office of Grant Circuit Court in Marion Indiana on the 28th day of April, A.D. 1853 and was the beginning of a team of men dedicated to serve and protect the City of Marion at all costs.
 
On the 13th of may 1853 a team was put into place with 1 President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer with a budget of $300.00.
 

 

 

 

 
Prior to this Association of a fire department was in place an alarm would sound by way of a large bell alarming all city people of a fire every prominent man in town dropped his work, seized a bucket and streaked towards the scene of a fire.
 
Twenty men were in the original company with 1 fire chief named James Long. In the early years 10 fires were considered a heavy year. When a fire would break out a bell would sound and the 20 members would run with their buckets to the fire.
 
In 1883 the department was reorganized and a fire station was built behind the old Presbyterian Church on fifth street. The list of men that composed this company included some of Marion's prominent men, and they received 75 cents an hour for active service.
 
The Apparatus was a wagon carrying a number of buckets. The wagon was pulled by the members of the fire brigade at the end of a long rope, until one day Jack Butler, manager of Livery Stable, rode past on his way to a fire and the firefighters tossed him the rope. That worked pretty well, so he offered to pull the wagon to all fires, shortly after they placed a shaft on the wagon and this inaugurated the horse-drawn-apparatus.
 
  • In 1876 the water works was built and with this came the first fire hose mounted on reels.
  • The first Apparatus was housed on 5th street between Adams and Branson.
  • In 1880 horse-drawn-hose reels were first used.
  • In 1889 a four-wheeled hose wagon was purchased and was drawn by two horses, Pete and Prince, which were bought from Jack Butler.
  • Within two years a ladder wagon was installed and it became necessary to hire two firefighters to take care of the horses. The two firefighters were Joe Jackson and William Brooks.
  • Latter the number was increased to 10 paid firefighters working with the volunteers at the fires.
  • When the four wheeled wagons were installed the hose reel was moved to the Flint Glass works.
  • As the fire equipment was housed at the Flint Glass Works the soon started Marion's first fire station established at the date of completion in 1876.
  • It consisted of a Chief and eighty volunteer members, with four reel companies and one hook and ladder company.
  • Needed water was distributed throughout the City of Marion by the Holly system.
  • The first Motor Apparatus was installed in 1914 and in 1916 the department was completely motorized.
As time went on fires became bigger and more often. In 1912 the department responded to 207 alarms, and from then on until 1919 the number steadily increased to 403 in 1919. With the increase of fires risk of injuries are greater and on April 14th , 1904 Charles Gross was killed by having a chimney fall on him at a fire at 24th and Florence Street. One other firefighter was killed in 1897 while going to a fire at Horne's Packinghouse on Halloween. Madison "Pug" Middleton, Assistant Chief was going to the fire scene on horseback, the horse slipped and fell throwing the rider on his head and killing him.

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