In 1923, a small group of local men met in the Junior Order of United American Mechanics Hall, above Ed Drake’s barbershop, to discuss starting a Fire Department.
We believe the barbershop was located on Main Street near the Flower Box.
The meeting was called to order by William Castimore and many people were in attendance who were in favor of starting the department.
At the time, the steps to form a Fire Department were:
1. Get a petition from the taxpayers and present it to the Town Committee to create an organization.
2. Every would-be fireman must pass a physical examination.
3. The department is limited to 40 members.
4. Age limit to be 21 to 35.
The petition was drawn up and signed by everyone at the meeting.
The Rev. Edwin S. Ford was elected chairman and Mr. Castimore secretary.
On Nov. 5, 1923, the Rev. Ford and Mr. Castimore presented the signed petition to the Town Committee, which granted permission and a copy was sent to the department.
In a letter describing the beginning of the Fire Department written by the Rev. Ford, he says, “They didn’t know much about firefighting except that water, if you could get enough of it, would generally put out a fire. They had no apparatus, they had no equipment, and they didn’t even have any water except for what was in brooks and ponds.
“But they had the indispensable qualities of enthusiasm and loyalty and devotion, and they were willing to work hard. There was a great deal of hard work and self-sacrifice.”
One hundred years after the original meeting of young local men, the Sparta Township Fire Department has advanced in many ways.
However, it is still a group of self-sacrificing men and women who help make our community safer. Today, we have seven pieces of apparatus, three firehouses and about 50 active volunteer firefighters.
For information on fire safety and to learn more about the Fire Department throughout the year, check out the Sparta Fire Department Facebook page and website.
To learn about becoming a volunteer firefighter, please visit spartanjfd.org or come by headquarters on Woodport Road at 7 p.m. Thursday.