Cooperstown Fire Department

FIRE DEPARTMENT

The old fire hall stood about where the new one is, but faced north.  When workmen excavated for the new hall's foundation, they found the old foundation and an old cistern.  Cooperstown's first fire department was organized in the spring of 1895, when the business people and others interested met to discuss the matter of fire protection for the village.

Following that meeting, the town board ordered from the Waterous Fire Supply Company of St. Paul one steam fire engine with a capacity of 325 gallons per minute, together with two hose carts and 1000 feet of hose.  The town board also provided the necessary engine house and storage cistern for water.  The whole outfit complete cost the town about $3,600.

At the May meeting in the Palace Hotel, Maynard Crane was elected chief and F. J. Stone assistant chief.  Four companies were formed, the engine company with a membership of twenty men, Hose Company Number 2 with sixteen men and Hook and Ladder Company with a membership of fourteen men.

On July 23 the engine arrived at Cooperstown.  J.C. Flynn's dray team was hitched to the engine, and with other teams drawing the hose carts, the equipment was tested.

"Engineer W.M. Gibson touched a match to the fuel.  In moments she had twenty pounds of steam and her pumps working.  In four minutes she was sending a strong stream through 100 feet of hose, to which was attached a one-inch nozzle.  She threw water over 100 feet high," it was reported.

No mention is made in the early accounts of the good-looking uniforms, which perhaps came later.

The engine is still in the possession of the fire department and has been used for such jobs as opening culverts in the spring.  It has also been an attraction in numerous parades.

One other piece of equipment shown in the old picture has been brought out of retirement and now is once more in the public eye.

The bell, which hung atop the old hall, is now occupying a place of honor in front of the new one.  It was repainted and set in an ornamental frame just before the dedication of the City Hall building.  Melroe Company donated the work on the bell and frame.  It is a heavy one, intended to remain stationary while the clapper is pulled from side to side.  In the original, ropes on a pulley apparently swung a wooden lever to activate the clapper.

Firemen's clothing has become more casual and more functional over the years, too.  The splendor of brass buttons, double-breasted costs and caps has given away to waterproof slickers and hats.

Incidentally, the village population was about 500 when the 69-man department was organized.  Cooperstown now has about three times as many residents, and less than half as many firemen.  Automation has created changes.

The late Swen Olgaard, who was a member of the fire department 60 years, recalled that when he first belonged, they had running teams who competed regularly.  (He complained that one time the Cooperstown team had the ugliest looking uniforms in the race, but ran the fastest in spite of it all.)

Fire Department Notes of Interest

In 1966 the rescue squad was organized and the fire department increased its membership from 25 to 28 members.

In 1968 a party was held for Swen Olegaard who was an active fireman for 60 years.

In 1969 the city hall was completed and the fire department held its first meeting in the new hall, December 2, 1969.

In 1971 contracts were signed with the townships in Griggs County for fire protection.

Major fires in the last 25 years:

  • County Highway Shop, 1969
  • VB Motors, 1964
  • Windsor Hotel
  • Cooper Cleaners, 1965

New equipment added to the fire department: 

  • 1970, a red pumper was brought from California
  • 1973, the fire department designed and built a GMC pumper
  • 1977, a rescue van was purchased
  • 1980, the fire department designed and built a four-wheel drive pickup with portable pumper

1982 Membership

Honorary Members:

E. Larson, P.C.

O. Tang, P.C.

M. Mosher, P.C.

W. Nelson, P.C.

H. Saxerud, P.C.

S. Quam, P.C.

Q. Dahl

A. Hagle

W. Detwiller

K. Johnson

I. Berdal

N. Heisz

Active members:

Chief M. Myers

Assistant Chief R. Hanson

Secretary M. Salzwedel

Treasurer E. Fritel

R. Baker, P.C.

K. Saxerud, P.C.

J. Bender, P.C.

A. Thompson

A. Stokkeland

J. Flaagan

E. Conant

R. Nelson

D. Rostberg

D. Dahl

G. Fletschock

G. Dahl

D. Bakken

D. Monson

D. Rhone

D. Chaput

R. Walker

D. Strand

B. Wallace

L. Lien

A. Douville

L. Reese

D. Edland

D. Severson

P.C. stands for Past Chief.

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 225

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