by Charles S. Miley, Ft. Pierce News Tribune Editor Emeritus

Our friend Charles J. Shortt is engaged in writing a history of the Fort Pierce Fire Department, but he needs some help from old-timers to fill out some of the facts relating to the earliest days of the department’s history.

Here’s a letter from him, and if you can be of any help to him, by all means get in touch with him:

Your writer is presently compiling a history of the Fort Pierce Fire Department.  Having read the minutes of all Fort Pierce commission meetings except the years 1915 to 1922, which, ironically, were destroyed by fire in a storage shed behind the old city hall on Avenue A, I find that I need some help from some old timers who may recall some of the missing links in regard to my research.

According to the city minutes, Fort Pierce purchased the land on Avenue A from the trustees of the First Baptist church upon which a city hall and fire house and jail were to be built.

The City Plan Board at the time consisted of E.L. Price, W.E. Tylander, Mrs. D.T. McCarty, J.B. Buky, G.R. Nottingham, E.P. Thompson, Murray E. Hall, D.E. Austin and J. M. Sample.  W.W. Hatcher was the architect and contract for the buildings was given to J.C. Hanner Construction Co. on Dec. 23, 1924,totaling $45,000.

On April 13, 1906, the committee of the Fire Department ordered a No. 38 engine and two reels of hose for $300 down payment.  The engine was purchased from Howe Engine Co. of Anderson, Ind. and the hose reels from Eureka Hose Co. of New York.  On July 5, 1906, the council voted to build a suitable building to house the engine and hose reels, and meeting hall.  They also voted to pay the Florida East Coast Railroad $69.74 for freight on the engine and hose and Howe Engine Co. $337.50; also $385 for the construction of a 40 by 20 foot structure.

There was no mention in the city minutes of the location of the building.  However, Bob Gladwin is pretty sure that it was located on Orange Ave. where Western Auto is now located.

On January  5, 1910 Chief W.E. Tylander recommended that the city purchase another engine from Howe Engine Co.  This was to be a 300 to 350-gallon per minute pumper, both gasoline operated and hand operated.  The price for this machine was $1400.  Also, 500 feet of hose from Eureka Hose Co. at 65 cents per foot.

Your writer has yet to find anyone who remembers this fire equipment or what became of it.  We would be very grateful to anyone who has information regarding this matter or any other Fire Department-related history, including any old photographs to contact us.  We can be contacted at 530½ S. 4th. St., or call 465-2141 weekdays.  Thank you,

CHARLIE SHORTT

Here’s the story relating organization of Fort Pierce’s first fire department, taken from the old St. Lucie County Tribune of    January 30, 1906:

“A meeting was held Tuesday night at the Paxton building for the purpose of organizing a fire department.  A goodly number of citizens were in attendance and an enthusiastic meeting was held, not a dissenting vote being heard throughout the proceedings.  An organization wad effected and W.E. Tylander was elected chief and H.I. Klopp secretary.

The following is a list of the members: W.E. Tylander, R.E. Mims Jr., C.Lee Faber, Frank R. Horton, A.M. Sample, W.E. Goldsmith, A.B. Lowry, Wilson Godfrey, H.E. Crooks. H.I. Klopp, H.B. Paxton, W.N. Hendry, G.S. Tucker, A.P. Edge. C.H. Edwards.

A committee, consisting of W.N. Hendry, W.E. Goldsmith and H.E. Crooks, was appointed to confer with the town council for the purpose of purchasing equipment.

This is one of the most pressing needs of our town and the organization should have the hearty support of every property owner in town.  Not only will property be safer, but fire insurance rates will necessarily be lower, to say nothing of the wonderful increase in the value of city property.”

And then on March 6: “A committee from the volunteer fire company placed before the council the question of purchasing an engine and other equipment, stating that satisfactory terms could be gotten, whereby the town would be under no burden.  The committee gave prices on the outfit and showing that $1,000 would be all that would be necessary and the fire fund would pay the amount without straining this fund.  The proposition met with hearty approval and was encouraged by the entire council.  A committee consisting of Alderman Lowery, Edge and Tucker was appointed to take up the matter and arrange terms, etc. preparatory to the purchase of the necessary fire-fighting equipment.”

And then, on April 27, there was this report: “At a meeting held some weeks ago W.E. Tylander was elected chief; and H.I. Klopp, secretary and treasurer.  The full list of officers was completed at a meeting held last week.  At present the fire department is composed of 33 men; 16 men being on the engine company and 8 men on each of the two hose companies, which will be officered as follows: R.E. Mims Jr., foreman of engine company: C.L. Faber, assistant foreman; W.E. Goldsmith, foreman hose company No. 1; C.E. Killer, assistant foreman; A.B. Lowry, foreman, hose company No. 2; R.W. Godfrey, assistant foreman.

As soon as the fire engine arrives our boys will begin to practice and put themselves in shape to protect the buildings of the town from fire.  It is hoped that their efficiency will soon be recognized by the fire insurance companies so that a considerable lowering in insurance rates can be installed without delay.”


From “Miley’s Memos.” This article first Published 5/7/1978.  Reprinted by permission of the Ft. Pierce News Tribune. “Miley’s Memos” is the property of the Ft. Pierce News Tribune and reproduction of this material is expressly forbidden without the prior written permission of the Ft. Pierce News Tribune © 2002.