Marshall Fire Department History

Frame construction, heated by wood-burning stoves, and lighted by kerosene lamps and other types of open flame--  these building and living concepts of the early twentieth century were often ravaged by fire.  The woefully equipped “Broom Brigade” of the turn of the century had little success that depended on many factors, including luck.  Preliminary steps were taken toward organizing a volunteer fire department, and on February 5, 1907, 27 men met and formed the village’s volunteer fire department.  A Charter, Constitution and By-Laws were formed by Edwin Hoyt, Jr., Arnie Sanders, William Sickels, B.W. Gaskin, Vern Gaskin, A. J. Kaiser, Earl Hart, E.J. Lange, E.A. Sanders, Walter Schultz, Leon Dewey, Clifford Harland, Frank Pyburn, J.F. Deppe, Frank Keller, T.T. Pyburn, Clark Baker, Christ Holbach, Charles Gaskin, W. H.  Raman, Albert Cast, W.E. Chute, T.B. Sanderson, F.J. Streich, H.A. Betts, W.H. Tasker and Dr. G.L. Gibbs.  These newly joined members huddled around a wood-burning stove that centered the bandstand floor to elect W.H. Raman as President and Edwin Hoyt as Chief.  The first business conducted by the group was to limit the number of members to 50 and to set annual dues at $1.00 per member.


Several buckets, inherited by the “Broom Brigade,” were all the equipment the Department had, until later that year, when after several fundraising events, a horse-drawn hand-powered pumper was purchased and stored in the barn of S.M. Hatch on Beebe Street.  A Chicago firm, starting in 1908, provided training sessions to the volunteers.  As years passed, the department was able to steadily upgrade its equipment.  In 1926, a Howe Chemical and Water Pumper on a Chevrolet chassis was purchased for $495 (the chemical tank had to be emptied in the winter to avoid freezing), and a Pirsch Special Pumper was purchased in 1931.  Throughout the years, bigger and better trucks were purchased.  Among the most appreciated benefits on the trucks were the enclosed cabs for the long drives to the corners of the district.  The Pirsch and the 1912 hose cart are seen today in parades and other special functions.


An annual Fireman’s Fourth of July fundraising event of dances, horse races, coonhound field trials, and more, brought good times to the community, along with other fundraising events for future upgrades to the Fire Department.  These activities were replaced with modern day fundraising festivals in 1938.


During the early years of this charter, equipment was stored in the Hatch barn, but in 1913, a shed was rented on Beebe Street, belonging to Hartwig Brewing Company.  This shed was utilized until 1931, when a 26 x 68-foot brick building was constructed on Main Street.  The department housed all of its equipment on Main Street, until the Municipal Building was erected in 1967.  The Municipal Building on S. Pardee Street had housed the fire department, until construction began in 2001 for a Public Safety Building on Industrial Drive.  The Public Safety Building now holds the Fire Department and the local EMS.