Saturday, July 04, 2020

Evolution of Eminence Fire & Rescue

Our Old Firehouse from 1800'sThe Eminence Fire and Rescue Department has undergone many changes and upgrades since the earliest records of the fire service in Eminence.

Insurance records of 1886 show there was no organized fire department to protect the city.  By 1893, the City would boast a horse drawn Waterous steam engine rated at 250gpm, 2 hand drawn hose carts and about 1300ft of 2 ½" hose.  Water was supplied from 4 public cisterns located throughout the city.  The Eminence Fire House was originally located on S Penn Ave on the SW corner of what is now Cook's Pharmacy. By 1903, the department included a hook & ladder apparatus which was hand drawn.  The March 4, 1904, Henry County Local reported the following news from Eminence, "the Metropolis of Henry County":  "The new hose wagon went into service Monday night.  It is up to date in all respects and was manufactured by G W Young, the prince among vehicle manufacturers.  The city now has two No1 hose carts for sale (hand drawn).  The fire ladder now ride to the fire, thank you.  They have a dandy wagon."

Significant improvements were made by 1908 at which time, in addition to the Waterous horse drawn steam engine, they had acquired a 4 wheel hose wagon, a 4 wheel ladder "truck", 1550ft of 2 ½" of "good" hose and 1050ft of "fairly good" 2 ½" hose.  Records show the department had 18 paid men and was now receiving fire alarms by telephone and by a bell on the fire house.  Water was supplied by 2 large ponds, 7 special fire cisterns which were filled by engine from ponds, and several private cisterns to which they had access.  No doubt that the improvements came from the input of George Young who was Fire Chief.  George went on to be the 2nd Mayor of Eminence; the first being his father-in-law John Fremd.  Other members of the department included Chris Young, brother of George and who was also Chief at one time; Elbert Lighter, Charley Rice, Captain; Robert Ransdell, Asst Chief ; W T "Spot" and Charles Howse; Berny Hunt, chief engineer; and "hosemen"  Gus Wheaton, Frank Booker, Jim Constantine and Lee Shuck

By 1915, Eminence Fire Department had acquired its first gasoline engine with a Howe 350gpm pump.  The horse drawn steam engine still remained in service as a backup unit.  The ladder truck was equipped with a 40' extension ladder and a total of 108' ft of laddering ability.  Manpower was at 10 paid men.

About 1920 the fire house was moved to its new location, still on S Penn Ave but in the building west of the present Chat N Nibble Restaurant.  The Fire department occupied this building along with the police department until Dec 1974 when it burned.

Records in 1925 show greater improvement in fire services in the city.  The department now owned a REO triple combo hose pumper & chemical auto truck with 300gpm pump and 50 gallon chemical tank. In addition, carried 150' of chemical hose and 750' of 2 ½" hose.  The Howe engine remained in active service but the steam engine was now used as a reserve unit, along with the hand drawn hose reel and hook and ladder.  EFD now was an organized volunteer department with 6 men partly paid and a paid chief.  Water was provided by 9 fire cisterns.

1930 census records reported James King as the Chief of the Fire Department Another milestone was achieved in 1934 when 33 fire hydrants were installed with a 125ft 75,000 gal water tower and 4 miles of 4" to 8" water pipes.  This was all supported with a 750 million gallon impounded reservoir operated by gravity and 2- 250gpm Wallace and Tiernan pumps to supply direct pressure.

By 1938 a siren was installed on the firehouse to alert firefighters to a run.   

Continuous improvements to the Eminence Fire & Rescue department over the years have led to numerous updates in apparatus and equipment and to services provided leading into the 21st century.


Eminence, KY
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