Elmwood Fire History

The Elmwood Volunteer Fire Department was organized May 16, 1899 as a village fire department. The Fire Department has several old record books that date back to 1922. These records contain monthly business entries during the last eighty years; some of the records are barely legible. At most meetings people kept a roll call of firemen present at the Firemen’s monthly meetings. The Elmwood Volunteer Fire Department register of May, 1922 listed the members of the fire department as: E.T. Comer, H. Mollen, F. Prentice, H. Tolhurst, W. Reeder, F. Gerbling, S. Umphrey, J. Turner, J. Sterner, E. Cook, O. Ring, Wm. Brown, O. Clements, E. Horton, C. Peck, C. West, C. Schneider, F. Wall, L. Dreamer, H. Linder, R. Reeder, Wm. Simpson, F. Parish, C. Brekenfeld.

Today the firemen meet twice a month. The second Monday of the month is set aside for business transactions. It is also a time to plan fundraisers such as selling fireworks or planning the supper for the Rim of the Prairie Days. The fourth Monday of the month is training night and a time to do maintenance checks. They train on the use of air packs, ladders, and all functions of the fire trucks.

Each month a crew from both the fire department and rescue squad get together to do general cleaning of all areas of the firehouse. Their readiness efforts are designed for any emergency. Every year in December there is an election of officers for both the fire and rescue.

Joe Williams organized the rural fire district with the help of Chet Bornemeier, Orville Lenz, Arlo Fleischman, and Myron Hollenbeck. The volunteer fire department used one room of the current city hall in the beginning years. The fire station has been in many different places. The fire station moved from the city hall then to main street-highway one- (current rural water district building), and finally to the new firehouse on highway one on the north edge of town.

It is amazing how past firemen managed to fight fires. Lots of changes have occurred since those early firemen used their pre-1900 hose cart. Today firemen benefit from a paging system and an enhanced 911-dispatch system, which gives the address from where the phone call is coming from. Today firemen have trucks with ladders, hoses, and pumps that put out over 750 gallons per minute. Their personal gear consists of bunker gear pants, boots, gloves, coat, and a helmet with shield. They have an air pack system, fans, portable generators, floodlights, roof saws, chain saws, and the Jaws of Life, which cuts metal on cars or farm equipment. Foam is being used to fight a lot of fires today.

On Saturday, may 8, 1999 the firemen held an open house celebrating their 100th anniversary. The Elmwood citizens are grateful for the firemen past and present who have faithfully served the community. They are grateful for the uniq Tuesday, August 26, 2008 9:37 PM their own personal risk, to help their fellow citizens. They are grateful for the continual investment of training time and for time away from their own families to benefit this community.

The Elmwood Rescue Squad was started in the fall of 1979 as a Quick Response Team with the Weeping Water Rescue Squad as the departments big brother and primary transporting unit. The equipment was stored at the fire station (108 South 4th). When a call would come in over special telephones in members homes they would respond to the fire station and pick up the equipment, which consisted of an oxygen bottle, first aid supplies, backboards, blankets and whatever else was available.

After throwing it into private vehicles theyd respond to the scene of the emergency. In1984 a 1969 rescue squad was purchased from Weeping Water where the equipment was then stored and the van was driven to the scene of the emergency.

In 1992 Elmwood started their own transporting with a 1979 ambulance. To date we are purchasing a new 2001 squad and we now provide emergency care for the people in about 90 square miles, which includes the towns of Elmwood, Murdock, and Wabash. We have 13 dedicated members but there are only two original members Ed Blunt and Mike Krass.

We have come along way, we now all carry pagers and most of us have radios that we can communicate with each other or directly to the sheriff s department. This past 20 years of serving the people would not have been possible without the support of the of the people in the communities and the surrounding areas, but most of all the support and understanding of all of our families.

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