WELLINGTON FIRE DISTRICT
The following is a summary from the September 29, 1939 Wellington Enterprise, of WFD's first fire call, which occurred on January 30, 1881 at around 11 pm; as well as other happenings at that time.
Engine Caught With Wheels Off When Fire Bell Sounded
9 Day-Old Fire Department Was Behind the Eight-Ball When
First Call Came Near Midnight on Jan. 30, 1881
The newly organized Wellington fire department was behind the eight ball when it received its first call near midnight on Sunday, Jan. 30, 1881.
The bell was ringing on the night air. The fire which had started in the business district on the west side of south Main-st, was raging.
But where was the fire engine? It was on the second story of the Doland carriage shop. It didn't have any wheels on it.
And as if that were not enough, the brakes and the tongue had been removed from the horse-drawn fire engine.
The wheels, according to The Enterprise of Feb. 3, 1881, had been taken off to have the tires set and the tongue and brakes had been removed in order to get the engine into the elevator to take it to the second floor of Mr. Doland's shop, where the name "E.G. Fuller" was to be painted on it. (The engine had been named in honor of Mayor E.G. Fuller.)
Within 20 minutes after the bells started ringing, the firemen had replaced the wheels, tongue and brakes and the engine was on the street ready for use.
It was a disastrous fire, entirely destroying the A.H. Palmer building, which housed the S.E. Peters grocery and, on the second floor, Mrs. Palmer's dressmaking establishment. (The fire started in the grocery, where four barrels of coal oil were stored.)
The Bunce candy stand and the Wooley Hardware were destroyed, the post office building, owned by T.J. Ogden, was almost completely razed, and nearby buildings were damaged. All movable equipment was taken from the Enterprise plant, which was in the building now owned by O.C. Robart, and stock was carried from the Wight Jewelry store.
The following are excerpts from The Enterprise's story of the fire:
"Many Wellington people who had attended church Sunday evening and lingered by the fireside an hour or two hereafter, had scarcely touched their pillows, when about 11 o'clock, the cry of 'Fire' was heard, and an ominous ringing of bells, followed by messengers calling those whose business housed were in danger to come quickly."
"Some one gathered up an armful of fine vases and delicate chinaware, carried them out of reach of the fire, and threw them to the ground, smashing every one; then returned and lugged off an iron hitching post and deposited it tenderly on a snow drift in the Park."
Starr Was Chairman
The fire occurred nine days after the department's organization meeting. At that time H.G. Starr was named chairman; G.L. Howk, assistant Chairman; J.H. Boulby, secretary; J.M. Otterbacher, treasurer, and Henry Robinson, steward.
At a second meeting three days later it was decided to name the department the Fuller Fire Company and to christen the engine the E.G. Fuller.
Apparently no fire chief was named for several years. According to records in the possession of Lynne Coates, present chief, the first chief was Rollie Spicer, who was appointed in 1882.
Since that time there have been five other fire department chiefs. S.F. Black and Warren Fisher followed Spicer. Fred Edwards was appointed in 1904, William Hildebrand in 1922 and Coates in 1929.
FALLEN FIRE FIGHTERS
In memory of...