‘Lively’ firefighters well trained in the ‘50s

In the 1970s, local  firefighters include, in front from left, Don Rose, Buster Johnson, Ivan TerMaat and Nevin Stender. In the second row are Joe Wiersma, Roger Brownlow, Jim McCabe, Dale Wondrasch, Harry McConnell and Elwin Horsman. In back, are Levern Olson, Paul Stellick, Curt Osterhus, Victor Lee and Pete Kofoot. Note:Something held in the left hand of the middle guy; a cigarette?
By : 
Mary Jo Dathe

In the 1955 centennial edition, the “lively firemen,” all 18 members, are equipped with good stuff and highly trained.  The city truck, with a 500 gallons per minute pumper and an 80-gallon booster, carried 3,500 feet of various sized hoses, pumper attachment and good chemical equipment.  County firefighting service which included Frankford, Spring Valley, Forestville and Bloomfield townships, plus about 150 memberships in Sumner, Fillmore and Beaver townships.  However, they go where there is an emergency!

The Tribune reported the firemen averaged $l0.80 in annual compensation, and the chief was paid $50 a year.  In 1967 a new rural fire truck was acquired, and new two-way radios added for better communication.  The fire station, built in 1938, was a brick building on East Courtland Street. It burned down in 2011 long after the Fire Department moved.

According to the 1980 update, in 1974 the Fire Department moved to a new building on the corner of Courtland and Washington where it remains today.  In the expanded facility with five bays and plenty of storage, the Fire Department enjoys its new location.

It was that same year (1974) that Harold Smith was mayor and the city hired its first full time clerk. With “mounting paperwork” the city moved into the northeast corner of the building to house the new clerk and later the city administrator and secretary.

In the “olden days” alarms were triggered through the telephone office once located over Leuthold's clothing store on Upper Broadway.  "Central" received the fire call, that person turned on the fire siren on the water tower, later moved to the municipal light plant.  The siren could be heard all over town!

After 1939, calls went directly to fire #303; the light plant people blew the whistle, which brought firemen within two minutes.   In 1980, firemen and emergency persons were equipped with electronic devices to alert them.  In 1984 the Spring Valley Volunteer Fire Department was jointly funded by the city, Rural Fire Association and by the department's own fund-raising activities.  They owned two pumper trucks, the rescue truck, and tankers.  There were 21 active members, six were EMTs, and were paid $3 per hour while on service.

As members of the Tri-County and Southeastern Minnesota Fire Fighting Association, they cooperate on mutual aid, but today the Fillmore and Winona Association responds to any emergency.  Firemen today have much safer equipment -- insulated and fire retardant pants and jackets, boots and helmets.  They receive 100 hours of training; further skills are learned at section schools with on-site instructors; a two-year refresher course, and, of course, twice a month drills.  Right now, there are 25 firefighters, one EMT, and 12 certified first responders.

In her place of honor (at either one of two places) is the beautifully restored 1928-29 "Big Bertha," the American LaFrance fire truck, now shown only in parades.