The History of the Hawarden Fire Department
On May 6, 1887, the first Hawarden City Council, which consisted of Mayor P.E. Granger, councilman, B.T. French, H.F. Wilkinson, J.A. Ashley, Will Hall, L.M. Linn, and N.P. Brown, and city council recorder L.D. Hobson met for the purpose of governing the community.
This City Council felt that one of the first improvements that should be made for the community was fire protection. On September 17, 1887, a petition from W.H. Leland was received, asking that a committee be appointed to confer with the C. & N.W. Railroad Co. as to a connection for their steam pump, which was located at the round house, to a water main through what is today Central Avenue. A motion was passed that the petition be granted when all residential property owners, owning property on Central Avenue in Hawarden, sign the petition and B.T. French was appointed a committee of one to confer with the railroad company.
On April 23, 1888, B.T. French, chairman of the fire committee, moved that the council purchase a double steam hand engine and a five-foot wheel hose cart, a village hook and ladder truck and five hundred feet of cotton hose. The motion carried and was referred to the fire committee for action.
Fire protection seemed to be a very important issue at this time as a public meeting was held to discuss it, but on June 23, 1888 French reported that the general opinion was, if the town could not put in a water works system it would be best not to purchase a fire engine at that time unless it was a chemical engine. As a result of that recommendation, a motion carried that the matter be dropped at that time, but the Mayor recommended that the city council purchase a triangle fire alarm and hang it over the entrance of the hook and ladder house. The council took action on the recommendation.
Records regarding the details of the progress of the fire fighting facilities of Hawarden at that time are very incomplete. It seems that fire protection was taken care of by volunteers, which included most of the male citizens using the hand equipment.
On April 23, 1891 the Hawarden City Council met in special session. Members present were Brewer, Jones, Hall, Quigley, and Gehan. A motion was made by Jones and seconded by Brewer that Frank may be appointed temporary Captain of the hose team for the purpose of organizing a fire company with H. Nickalson, O.A. Bader, B.O. Gibbs, and John Monaghan as assistants. The motion carried.
As a result of that meeting, the Hawarden Fire Department and the Hawarden Hook and Ladder Companies were organized. Sometime in 1893, the first fireman’s dance was held.
Under the sponsorship of Uncle J.W. Brewer who was a kindly old man with no family, with the interest of Hawarden very much at heart, and to wish his name be connected with Hawarden down through the years, the Hawarden Fire Department and the Hawarden Hook and Ladder Company were organized into the J.W. Brewer Fire Department on December 5, 1894.
The first officers of the new organization were: L.T. Kenny – Chief, O.A. Bader – Assistant Chief, George Weiland – Captain, Chris Ambler – Assistant Captain, Fred Boller – Secretary, and Tom Snyder – Treasurer. Snyder as treasurer only served one month and resigned. Walter Scott was elected to fill the vacancy and served in that office for five years.
Soon after the organization of the department, new uniforms were purchased to be worn at all social functions and celebrations.
The first fireman’s ball under this new organization was held on Christmas Eve 1894. The dance committee in charge of the first dance was Chris Ambler, Henry Schmidt, and Walter Scott. The department has served Hawarden faithfully and well over the years. The department has had many serious fire calls, all without the loss of, or serious injury to a single fireman. The department has sponsored many community celebrations and has taken an active part and interest in all community affairs.
The membership of the Hawarden Fire Department changes quite rapidly, through death, members leaving the community and members reaching the age where they no longer are able to meet the strenuous labors of a firefighter. A large number of able-bodied young men and women of the community have belonged to the department at one time or another.