Albany Fire Department
Few towns have been so unfortunate with fires as Albany. The first large fire occurred in 1866, two years later another major fire occurred, again in 1872 and 1880, then the big one in 1883. Through all of these tragedies the village had no fire fighting equipment, only bucket brigades and a very inadequate source of water, except for the river. The major fire in 1883 did not convince the public that adequate fire protection was necessary since a referendum to spend $1,500.00 for such an undertaking was defeated. In December 1883, an ordinance was adopted making it unlawful of anyone to erect a wooden or veneered building, barn or stable, keep or maintain any wood or lumber yard, within the limits of all block Number 13, all of Lots 1,2,3,4, and 6, Block Number 13 and 19 east of the Sugar River, and north of the south line of Lot Number 6, Block Number 19, of the Original Plat, which was known as the fire district. these rules still apply today.
The Village Board did allow smaller sums of money to purchase fire fighting equipment and in February of 1886, they purchased a lot from Thomas Gravenor for the sum of $70.00 to be used for a fire house.
On November 9, 1887, the first fire company was organized with the following officers:
Fire Chief: Don Osborne
Assistant Fire Chief: E. Van Patten
Capt., Hose Co.: A.W. Bliss
Asst., Hose Co. Charles Flint
Capt., Hook & Ladder: W.P. Bauer
Asst., Hook & Ladder: Eli Knapp
Capt., Engine Co.: S.L. Gothompson
Asst., Engine Co.: Harry Edwards
Steward: Tilbury Gray
In February of 1899 a call went out again to organize a fire company. A meeting was held and Frank Graves was elected Chairman and S. E. Bartlett, Secretary. A committee was appointed for the purpose of drawing up a set of by-laws. In the summer of 1890, the company was organized, however, the Village Board cut down the list of firemen from 50 to 25. On May 21, 1900, the Village purchased a new fire engine from Howe Engine Co., of Indianapolis for the sum of $1,069.50. After that many smaller items such as hoses, etc. were purchased.
On October 15, 1898, the Village Board voted to purchase the Grange Hall and lot for $500. This building, which is located at 106 South Water Street, served as the village hall and fire station for many years until the new building was built at 205 North Mechanic Street in 1975.
In 1902 firemen were allowed pay of 25 cents for attendance at practice and 50 cents for attendance at fires. In 1946 they were granted a raise to $1.50 for the first hour and one dollar for each additional hour. In 1983, they were paid $4.00 for the first hour and $2.50 for each additional hour.
In December of 1928 an inspection by the Fire Insurance Rating Bureau revealed the following equipment: One 1928 Mode “a” Ford Chassis carrying 1100 feet of 2 1/2 – inch and 100 feet of 1 1/2 – inch C.R.I. hose; one 35-foot extension and one 16-foot roof ladder; one 2 1/2 – inch shutoff nozzle with tips 1/2 – in to 1 1/8 – inch; two 2 1/2 – inch playpipes with 1/2 – inch tips; one 1 1/2 – inch tips; one 1 1/2 – inch shutoff nozzle with 3/8 – inch tip and some additional equipment. the inspection found discipline to be informal and not training program whatsoever. No rural fire calls were made.
Another inspection was made in September of 1946 and it was found that a 1945 500-gallon Ford American Marsh Pumper had been added, along with additional hose and ladders. Rural calls were now being made.
In 1983, the fire department has the following equipment: the 1945 Ford truck mentioned above; one 1965 Ford American LaFrance pumper, holding 500 gallons of water with a 500 gallons per minute pump; one 1975 Ford pumper, holding 1000 gallons of water with a 750 gallons per minute pump, carrying 1300 feet of 2 1/2 – inch hose; 500 feet of 1 1/2 – inch hose and 200 feet of 1 – inch hose; one 1969 Ford Tanker, carrying 1800 gallons of water; one 1976 IHC Tanker, carrying 1500 gallons of water; one 1976 Chevrolet grass fire truck; and one 1980 GMC one-ton rescue truck, carrying extrication tools and first aid equipment updates, increased training and fire fighting abilities, in 1975, the village’s fire insurance rating was lowered to Class 6, which is excellent for a community of this size.
Prior to 1942, the fire alarm was through the telephone company located at East Main and North Water Streets. The general alarm was an electric siren operated from the telephone exchange, fire station and a control switch at a centrally located restaurant. In 1942, the fire siren was moved to a tower located next to the Village Hall (106 South Water Street). It remains there today. A new 3-tone siren was purchased in 1969 from Morgan Fire Equipment Company for the sum of $1,676.
Fire Department records of many years ago were somewhat inadequate; however, we did find that the following is a partial list of men who have served as Chief over the years: Don Osborne, Tom Carver, Charles Dixon, Oren Burt, Eugene Krueger, Gene Doyle, Walter G. Althaus, Irvin Klapper, Dennis Krueger and Danny Mueller.