A History of Service In A Small Indiana Town

By Eric Olson

July 12, 2013 Updated Jul 12, 2013 at 12:36 PM EDT

ALBION, Ind. (www.incnow.tv ) -- If anyone needed a reminder of how dangerous firefighting can be, that reminder came two weeks ago with the deaths of 19 men battling forest fires in Arizona. It’s safe to say that without firefighters, America would look vastly different than she does today.

Mark Hunter is a 30 veteran with the Albion Volunteer Fire Department. He’s also a respected author whose last work, a romantic comedy called ‘Storm Chaser’ was very well received. His latest book is on a more serious subject though, it’s called ‘Smokey Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or so with the Albion Fire Department’…a history of the AFD that begins before there was an AFD, when an 1857 fire destroyed the county courthouse.

“They had a town that was burning down is what they had before that,” says Hunter. “It burned down constantly. There were at least half a dozen major downtown fires between the time that original courthouse burned and the time the fire department was formed in 1888. So they just got tired of it.”

When the department formed in 1888 a bucket brigade was just about all any small town had. But the story of a volunteer fire department is mainly a story about technology. A hand drawn pump and hose cart were the department’s first real pieces of equipment. A horse drawn pump was added in 1914 and a gas powered fire engine in 1929. In 1930 a new fire station was built and since then the story of the AFD is of a department becoming better equipped, better trained and more effective. A story, too, of citizen firefighters who often join up for the excitement.

“Once you’ve been on a few years you realize that there’s more to it than just the excitement of going to a fire,” Hunter says, “and the next thing you know you realize that you’re protecting your community.”

The Albion Fire Department celebrates its 125th anniversary in a couple of weeks…the celebration even more special, now that the entire story has been told. Eric Olson reporting, out in 21 Country.

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