Stuart Fire Department
History of the Stuart Fire Department:
The Town of Stuart was founded in 1870 by Captain Charles Stuart, with the first fire department forming in 1878 with 90 members. Forty of those worked on the engine company, thirty in the hook and ladder, and 20 in the hose company. Back then, fires were fought by bucket brigades; buckets of water passed along a line of firemen. No water system was available in town. To remedy that, shallow wells were dug at each alternate block intersection to aid firemen with water. The town upgraded their equipment to include a two-wheeled hose cart using one to carry ladders which they drew with them as they ran to a fire. These carts were eventually replaced by hand engine pumps mounted on a cart. In 1884, the city purchased a Silsby steam fired, horse drawn engine. It was rated among the best at that time and was one of the very few purchased in Iowa. In 1915, the city acquired a new International truck they were able to ride on to the fire. It was complete with hoses, ladders, extinguishers, a siren, and a bell. In 1917, water lines were constructed and fitted with fire hydrants that were strategically placed throughout Stuart.
1935 – Purchased a fire truck outfitted with hose, reels, ladders, and a 300-gallon water tank with a front-mounted pump. It operated at a rate of 100 gallons per minute.
1955 – Purchased a 500-gallon water tank. The fire department, in conjunction with Bell Telephone Co., set up the first fire phone system. This system was set up to call nine firemen the moment the fire alert number was dialed. Subsequently, the other firemen were called and given the information. The Municipal light plant was the answering service for fire calls and blew the whistle to alert the city.
1965 – The department bought air packs with face masks.
1978 – Upgraded to a 1,000-gallon tank. The department had an average of 20 to 25 calls per year. The growth of the city warranted pagers to replace the outdated fire phone system.
1981 – One of the first fire departments in Guthrie County to purchase 25 pagers.
1987 – 12 members completed a 60-hour training program and became Fire Fighter 1 certified by the Iowa State Fire Institute.
1992 – Purchased a Ford pumper that pumped 1,000-gallon per minute and was powered by its own engine, 1,250-gallon water tank, and a 1,500-gallon portable tank.
The Stuart Fire Department has had six “1 and 100 year fires.” These are large fires that require multiple agencies to respond. Throughout its history, the department has become well-equipped to respond to most any fire or emergency situation.
References: Stuart Area 125th Anniversary Book, Organizations Page 2 and History of Stuart Iowa 1870 – 1970.
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