- Fire Department
- Fire Department History
- After World War II - 1949 to 1989
After World War II - 1949 to 1989
At a council meeting on September 29, 1949, the village council agreed to purchase a 1950 Peter Pirsch 600 gallon-per-minute (GPM) pumper truck, to cost about $13,500. On June 20, 1950, the new truck arrived in town and on July 2, 1950, the truck was tested and accepted by the fire department and village council.
April 12, 1951, the village council raised the township's $50 per fire run fee to $100 per fire run.
February 14, 1955, the council agreed to purchase an American LaFrance 1000 GPM pumper at a cost of $21,500. On August 28, 1955, the fire department and the village council accepted delivery of the truck. The 1926 Reo fire truck was taken to Linden Fire Department, for their use in part of Fenton Township.
The village council, on November 9, 1955, approved the request of the fire department to have an alerting system installed. This consisted of the department having a bank of 1.5-volt dry cell batteries and the leasing of Bell Telephone wires to each fireman's home and place of employment. At each home and employment there was a relay and four 1.5-volt dry cell batteries to ring a 6-volt bell. This was hooked to the controls on the fire siren and would ring every time the siren was blown or could be used with a switch. This service cost about $20 a month from Bell Telephone and the start-up equipment also cost about $20. March 10, 1956, the alerting system was complete and working.
Fate of the 1930 Peter Pirsch
On May 11, 1959, council approved purchase of a Ford chassis and body from American Fire Apparatus Company. The cost was $16,650. With a new truck coming, an existing truck had to be removed from the fire hall. The council agreed to sell the 1930 Peter Pirsch to the Firemen's Association for the sum of $1. This truck was stored in the garage at Kirk's Sales and Service. Kirk's was located at the northwest corner of Leroy and Silver Lake Road. By late September 1960, the firemen had restored the 1930 truck. It is still owned by the Firefighters' Association today and is currently on display inside the new fire station, located on Caroline Street. The firefighters restored this truck for a second time in 2001.
The day after Thanksgiving 1959, the Ford tanker was delivered. After testing and learning to operate it, the village council accepted the truck on December 8, 1959.
In July of 1963, the village offices and the Department of Public Works, which shared the fire station with the fire department, were moved to 401 Lincoln Street. This gave the fire department storage in the basement of the station. The 1930 Peter Pirsch was moved from Kirk's Sales and Service to the basement of the fire hall.
Fenton Becomes a City
On March 9, 1964, the residents of Fenton voted to become a city. This makes big changes in all city budgets. Very little, if anything, was purchased by the city during this time. Also during 1964, the fire department started training for severe weather (tornado) warnings.
On September 30, 1965, the fire department took delivery of a 4-wheel drive Dodge truck from Kirk's Sales and Service. A pump, hose reel and hose were purchased separately from the American Fire Apparatus Company. The cost of the truck and equipment was not to exceed $7,000. This truck was assembled by the firemen. They started around October 9, 1965, and finished in March 1966.
On August 7, 1967, the city council approved the purchase of an American LaFrance diesel-driven fire truck at a cost of $31,650. This truck was received August 1, 1968.
By the beginning of 1970, the fire department consisted of 16 regular firemen and 6 trainees. The department covered Tyrone, Rose, Deerfield, Hartland and Fenton Townships as well as the city. They had 6 fire trucks.
Changes in the 70s
December 1973 the Firefighters Training Council, a state-funded agency of the Michigan State Police, conducted a 66-hour training program in Fenton. This was the first program held in Genesee County, sponsored by the Training Council. It was attended by 98 firemen from 11 departments in Genesee and Oakland Counties.
From April 18 to 21, 1974, Fenton received a 17-inch snowfall and then a 4 inches of rain. The combination of snow melting and the Shiawassee River swelling kept everyone busy. The fire department worked 493 man-hours keeping lift pumps operating and removing fallen trees and wires.
As of October 22, 1975, the Fenton Fire Department was no longer responsible for the protection of Fenton Township. For over a year, the township had been planning to form its own department.
July 15, 1976, the department received their 1976 american LaFrance Tele-Squirt fire truck. This fire engine was made especially for Fenton's need, with specifications being set by the fire department. The cost was approximately $90,000. It was sold in 2005 in anticipation of the department's new 110-foot aerial ladder truck, which was in the process of being manufactured at the time.
On June 24, 1978, Fenton's Fire Chief, Bruce Dorland, was elected as President of the Michigan State Firemen's Association. Also during this year, the Michigan Occupational Safety Hazard Association (MIOSHA) required that seat belts be put into fire trucks. Fenton purchased 20 sets of seat belts. MIOSHA also required that back-up beepers/alarms be installed on the trucks. Six were purchased.
Explorer Post 191
The fire department Explorer Post 191 Scout Troop held its first meeting on September 27, 1979 at the Firehall. Youths 14 years or older, interested in learning firefighting methods, called to register. The Fire Chief stated that this group would be used at fires to help direct traffic, assist on hoses and ladders and work with the firemen in extinguishing blazes. The Explorer Group is still active with the department today. In fact, the Explorers have been the best recruiting tool the fire department has ever had, with 2/3 of today's active firefighters coming up through the program and joining the department as members.
April 9, 1980, four Fenton insurance agencies combined to purchase a Fire Finder for the department. This equipment is an infra-red type of locator that detects heat and sends out an audible alarm. The insurance agencies involved were: Hunt-Smith, Brad Hoffman, Stiles Insurance, and Hitchcock-Dery. The purchase price was $485. The device enables firemen to determine if there's a fire or hot gasses inside attic roof vents; locate fire in car engine compartments or upholstery; locate overheated ballasts in fluorescent lights; and find hot wires, connectors and chemical fires. It can do this even if flame isn't visible, and locate fire sources in smoke-filled rooms.
Changes in the 80s
After 30 years of service, on June 4, 1980, the 1950 Peter Pirsch pumper truck was retired from service. This truck was the first post-World War II truck in the department. It took over duties from a 1926 and 1930 truck. It was put to back-up duty behind 5 newer trucks. This truck was sold to a Bay City collector.
On June 14, 1980, the department took delivery of a 1980 Pierce pumper/tanker. It cost $89,950. To make room for this new pumper/tanker, the 1959 Ford-American tanker was put into back-up service.
In July the city council approved the purchase of new fire coats and helmets. On December 16, 1980, Governor William G. Milliken appointed Fenton Fire Chief, Bruce Dorland, to the State Fire Fighters Training Council.
May 1982, the city council approved the purchase of a half-ton Chevy van. This is to be used for rescue equipment. The department received the van on August 1982.
Due to stricter state job safety requirements, the city council on October 10, 1983, approved the purchase of 26 sets of fireproof Nomex bunker pants and boots. The cost was $3,345.94.
1986: A Big Year
In June of 1986, Detroit Medical Center flew in their Sky Team helicopter for training. This was held on the front lawn of Fenton High School.
In October 1986, the Fenton City Council voted to join the 911 emergency program as a primary answering point. By being a primary answering point, Fenton dispatchers can receive calls directly instead of calls going to Genesee County dispatch first.
In November 1986, the fire department received a 1986 Ford Mini Pumper truck. Purchase price for this vehicle was $53,000 and it is still in use today.
In December 1986, Fenton Fire Chief, Bruce Dorland, was named Fire Fighter of the Year by the Genesee County Fire Fighter's Association.
The End of a Decade
In January/February 1989, the department took delivery of a 1988 Darley/Spartan pumper/tanker truck. This is still being used today. Also in 1989, after 25 years as Fenton's Fire Chief and 35 years with the department, Bruce Dorland retired. The city council approved Jerry Peterson as the new chief.