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FIRE DEPARTMENT: History & Photos

By Frank Chamberlain:

The Dublin Volunteer Fire Department was founded in the 1880s. Originally, this public service organization consisted of citizens armed with buckets, wet cowhides, and a small pump that was operated manually. The first fire station was built in 1903, and shortly thereafter the department upgraded the fire-fighting equipment. In 1905, they obtained two hose carts and a hook and ladder wagon, which made the fire fighting process much more efficient. These carts were originally pulled by a volunteer, which must have quite a burden. Soon, the department began the more efficient practice of hitching the wagon to a horse, which greatly improved the response time to a fire call. This was a marked improvement, but this wagon required all three men to hang on to the tongue of the wagon while the cart was in motion [Westphal 66-68].


The city purchased a modern horse-drawn fire wagon, along with two horses, in 1909. These animals were named “Bud” and “Barney” and were reported to have been naturally inclined for their jobs. It has been recalled that they would start running as soon as the harness was placed upon them. Once, these eager animals actually took off with the wagon before the firemen had a chance to get on board. By 1917, the animal-powered wagon had become obsolete and city officials sold the horses and purchased their first motorized fire truck. A few years later, they obtained a second fire truck, a Model T, which was used to carry extra hoses. (A replica of this vehicle can be seen in the Student Development Center at Tarleton. It is perhaps the only one still in existence.) The fire department continued to update the equipment and obtain new vehicles throughout the years in keeping up with the latest technological advances. Today, the department has two pumper trucks, a booster truck, three rural trucks, a 2,500 gallon tanker truck, and a suburban that is used as a personnel carrier. It also possesses two “Jaws of Life” extraction devices used to free auto accident victims who become trapped inside their cars [Westphal 68-69; Dublin Citizen 8/8/02 p. 8].


The Dublin fire department has been busy over the years, as the town has been struck by many significant blazes. 1913 was an unlucky year for the town as both the Methodist and Baptist churches and the schoolhouse burned. Two years later, a fire destroyed the Dublin Hotel. The Methodist church burned down for a second time in 1928. Perhaps the worst inferno to strike Dublin occurred in 1943, when a large blaze destroyed several buildings on Patrick Street. It took the fire departments from Stephenville, Hico, De Leon, and Dublin to bring the fire under control. Despite this cooperation, all or parts of seven buildings in the downtown area went up in flames. The heat from this conflagration was so intense that it caused many windows to break in buildings across the street. Another notable fire struck the downtown area in 1977, destroying several buildings and displacing five businesses [Dublin Citizen 8/1/02 p. 1, 10; 8/8/02 p. 1, 8}.


“On the Line: The first in a two part series about the Dublin VFD”, Dublin Citizen, August 1, 2002.


“On the Line: The second in a two part series about the Dublin VFD”, Dublin Citizen, August 8, 2002.


Westphal, Dorothy V. Dunn. Covered Wagons Keep On Rollin’ / hand printed & compiled from the pen of Dorothy V. Dunn Westphal; the history of Dublin, Texas, 1995.

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