A Look Back Through 85 Years of the Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company
This week, the Brookfield Fire Volunteer Fire Company celebrated a milestone. It was on May 7, 1934, that the department was established, and boy a lot has changed since then.
The one thing that hasn't changed, however, is the Brookfield Fire Volunteer Fire Company's commitment to serving the community. Also the fact that the department has grown tremendously, of course.
Here's a quote featured on their Facebook page that kind of sums things up:
We are thankful for all those who came before us and to all those who have, and continue to support us in our community.
Here's a look back at what was happening in the country the first year the department started serving the people of Brookfield:
It was 1934, FDR was our President and we were still in the grips of the "Great Depression". The weather brought drought problems to the US Midwest with massive dust storms and some 35 million acres of farmland were utterly destroyed. The FBI managed to end the careers of celebrity criminals like John Dillinger, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson, and the St. Louis Cardinals were World Series Champs for the third time in eight years.
How much did things cost in 1934? The average cost of new house was $5,970.00, the average worker made about $1,600.00 a year, a gallon of gas would cost you 10 cents, and a loaf of bread was 8 cents.
Thanks to brookfieldfire.com, we've pieced together some history on how the Brookfield Fire Volunteer Fire Company came to be:
The department was basically started by necessity. A small group of concerned citizens realized they needed a local Firehouse after too many buildings in the town burned to the ground. Prior to 1934, there was no fire organization or sufficient water supply in Brookfield to protect buildings and properties. People were alerted to fires in the town by the ringing of church bells. Residents would respond and fight the flames with brooms, shovels, and if enough people showed up at the fire, they formed bucket brigades from the closest source of water. Needless to say, many structures were lost forever, so town leaders decided to meet and in March of 1934, they set the groundwork for the formation of a volunteer fire company.
On May 7, 1934, the very first meeting of the new Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company was held at town hall on Route 25. David Morehouse was elected as the temporary chairman -- later to become the Fire Company’s first Fire Chief.
In order to raise money for the new fire company, they held their very first "Harvest Dance" in the fall of 1934, and due to its tremendous success, it became a tradition for many years to come.
By 1937, the department had enough money to buy their very first apparatus -- a 1937 Ford V-8 Pumper. In 1940, a second pumper was added and by 1945, the first fire siren to alert volunteers of a fire was added to the top of the Firehouse, which was located on Whisconier Road in an old tobacco barn.
In 1954, a new firehouse was built on donated land on the corner of Whisconier and Obtuse Hill Road and in 1957, Brookfield added their first Ambulance Service and their first ambulance -- a $2,000 used Buick.
Finally, in 1991, a new Firehouse was built at a cost of $1.8 million and replaced both the Station A Firehouse on Federal Road and the old Center Station Firehouse on the corner of Obtuse Hill and Whisconier Road.
So, as you can see, things have changed a lot since 1934 and the original 20 volunteers. Today, the department has over 78 active members, but again, the one thing that hasn't changed is the Fire Departments commitment to protect the community 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Happy Anniversary and thanks, Brookfield Fire Volunteer Fire Company. Check out the amazing history first-hand as you flip through this gallery of historical photos courtesy of Brookfield Fire Volunteer Fire Company: