We are proud of our rich history within the fire service.
Please read about our early history here.
On November 30, 1941, the new Central Fire Station in Columbus Indiana began operations. This modern facility replaced “Old Number One,” which had been located on 5th Street (due west of City Hall). Old Number One had served its purpose for many years, but now, growth and expansion of the city dictated a more state-of-the-art facility located more centrally than Old Number One. Old Number One was razed with this new building taking over its operations.
To celebrate this newest addition to Columbus Indiana, a souvenir booklet was published, edited by “then-Editor” of the Evening Republican newspaper, Melvin Lostutter.
The entire publication is hereby offered for your pleasure…
Central Fire Station is said to be not only the finest for its size in the mid-west, but to embody certain features never before incorporated in a firehouse. Among its unique features are its rounded plate glass corners at the front, and its circular hose tower. Both these features have practical purposes, but at the same time, they fit perfectly into the architectural effect.
The hose tower has a wheel type of hose carrier, tackles and dollies to raise the hose into position to dry uniformly and in a minimum of time. Another purpose it serves is to ventilate the fire house, as it contains a large exhaust fan to draw off the poisonous fumes when the fire truck motors are being tested indoors.
The front of the station is practically all glass. This fact, coupled with the rounded corners, enables the firemen to see Washington Street in front and for some distance north and south before starting to drive out. Thus, they can better protect traffic and their own equipment.
The doors for the trucks are automatic, sliding up overhead at the touch of a button. They may also be operated by hand.
On the south side of the big room where the trucks are housed are a lounge for the firemen, the chief’s office, and the No. 1 captain’s office. On the west side is a dormitory large enough to accommodate all the firemen, and adjoining this on the north, a locker room with showers, toilets, and linen closet.
On the north side of the apparatus room are a kitchen and dining room such as any bride might be proud of.
The basement contains a room for drying tarpaulins, a workroom where the firemen may repair equipment when not otherwise engaged, a battery room, a room for oil and other materials, and a boiler and fuel room. The boiler is fired by a stoker.
Central Fire Station was built with an eye to beauty, efficiency, and expansion, if necessary. Although it does not give the impression of being too large for the firemen and equipment it now houses, it has accommodations for four trucks, the chief’s car, and 16 firemen if No. 1 Company ever need be expanded to that size.
The building was designed by Leighton Bowers, Indianapolis architect, and constructed by Dunlap & Company of this city. The contract was let and work started last March. The Fire Company started moving in on August 9, and the dedication was scheduled for Nov. 30.
First Line of Defense
Whether it be under the blazing sun of mid-summer, or out in the raw blasts of winter; whether it be in the bright hours of noon-day, or the dark hours after midnight, the Columbus firemen are ready at a moment’s notice to protect the lives and property of the Columbus people.
Because of them we feel secure. Because of their speed and efficiency, few fires in this district have made any headway. Not only have they been one of the finest firefighting organizations in the state, but they have served their community in many other ways. And now that our country is facing the greatest emergency in its history–danger from within as well as from without–the firefighters of the nation have been called upon to do their part. Throughout the land–in state, in city, town, and in rural district–defense programs are under way and defense councils are being formed for the protection of lives and property in the event of sabotage or war. A great part of this work will be in connection with fire prevention and protection.
Columbus firemen throughout the years have been noted for their patriotism, loyalty, courage, sacrifice and unselfish service to their community.
They will uphold this tradition when additional when additional duties are imposed upon them under the present emergency. They will continue–and in large measure–to protect the lives and property of our citizens, and to defend and preserve the high ideals and institutions for which our forefathers fought and died.
Our firemen are our first line of defense
History of Department
Fire Department harks back to 1835, when the village became in incorporated town and a volunteer fire brigade was formed. It was not until 1852, however, that the city owned any actual firefighting equipment. Before that, the fighting was done with buckets, and the fighters not only volunteered their good services, but furnished their own buckets.
The first piece of equipment purchased in the decade before the Civil War was a two-wheel cart, which carried buckets and ladders, and was drawn by firemen by means of ropes.
Equipment which used water under pressure did not come, of course, until the city water works was completed in 1871. The city council then provided for purchase of a hand-drawn hose reel. This was housed in a small building, hardly better than a shed, which stood on old Railroad Square, later Commercial Park, and now the site of the new Tabernacle Christian Church. The shed stood about where the church tower rises, except closer to 5th Street.
Later the council bought two one-horse hose reels. These were kept in livery barns until the St. Denis fire in 1894 destroyed the Shea and Fahy barn to the rear of the Hotel. One of the hose reels and fire horses were in the barn at the time. The horse had been trained to take his place under the harness when the alarm sounded, and this he did. But the fire travelled so fast that the hose reel was destroyed before it could be removed, and the horse with it, standing steadfastly in place before it.
It was this fire and the disastrous American Starch Company blaze in the next year which led the city to buy the ground next to the City Hall and erect No. 1 Fire House in 1895.
The Fire Department was also reorganized in that year, with a chief, four paid firemen and twenty-nine volunteers. Its equipment included a two-horse ladder wagon and two hose wagons, which were housed in the new fire station, together with the horses. It also had a two-wheel hose reel which a volunteer fireman kept in his barn in Orinoco. The volunteer used his own horse to this cart. In 1897, another horse was provided for one of the hose wagons at No. 1.
All this time the city was growing to the northeast, so that in 1908 the council saw the necessity of providing additional fire protection in that section, and authorized erection of No. 2 Fire House at Thirteenth Street and Hutchins Avenue. Into this moved in January, 1909, three additional firemen, two horses and a two horse hose wagon. The council then reduced the number of volunteer firemen from 29 to 18.
No. 1 Fire Company was motorized in 1918 by substituting two American-LaFrance fire trucks for the horses, remodeled the fire station and added two paid firemen. It also discontinued the volunteer Company.
No. 2 Company was motorized two years later, when another fire truck was purchased.
The city council added two men to the Department in 1924, and another in 1934, bringing it up to its present strength of chief and thirteen firemen.
In 1931 the city bought a car for the chief, which has since been traded for a newer model; and in 1939 bought a new pumper powered by a Cummins Diesel motor. This makes five pieces of motorized equipment owned by the Department.
Old NO. 1 fire house was condemned as unsafe in 1940, and step were taken immediately to build a new one. The fire company moved out of the old one last fall into temporary quarters, and the building was razed last February. A lot was purchased at Eleventh and Washington streets, and construction of Central Fire Station was started in March. It was completed last summer, and No. 1 Company moved in in August.
Today, the Columbus Fire Department is staffed with 95 full-time career firefighters housed in 6 fire houses that are strategically located to provide fire, ems and rescue services within approximately 28 square miles of municipality.