History of the Kansasville Fire Department
January 1927 through December 1979
The fire department was formed in January of 1927. After two disastrous fires in 1926, namely in August the barns on the Frank H. Cox farm filled with loose hay and the Hawkins Hotel, which burned on Christmas Day, it was decided that a fire department was needed. Sparks from the Hawkins Hotel ignited the roof of the home owned by Mrs. Florence Daniels. Leo DeBrabander, who at the time lived a mile away at the home of Frank Jung later purchased, saw the smoke on the roof and drove his car own and climbed (without a ladder) on the roof and put out the fire.
Alois (Dutch) Vos was the gentleman who organized the Kansasville Fire Department. Dutch Vos, Leo DeBrabander, and Bert McNamara went to Milwaukee and bought and Evinrude motor which was purchased by contributions from the members living in the area. Among the early donors were George Cox, Nick Huck, F.H.Cox, John Gorman, Mike Briody, Fred Hawkins, Russ Schmalfelt, Ted Zelenski, Peter Kortendick, A.H. Vos, Lawrence Daniels, Frank Rudolph, E.J. Mutter, Louis Sauder, Fred Sauder, E.J. Emmerling and Barney Hagemann. The motor was mounted on a hose cart made by Henry Keller. Henry was a wagon maker whose business was located in the building that eventually became the Heinen Tavern. Mr. Keller was a great Story teller and cider maker. The kids coming from school enjoyed listening to his stories. The motor was taken to different fires. Among the fires it was taken to was the house owned by the Spring Valley Milk Company also the old barn on the Payne farm on Schroeder Road. The firemen had to have something to pull the cart so a Case car (Model X) was purchased. It was remodeled until a regular fire truck was bought. The first fire truck was bought in the mid 1930’s.
In 1928 the firemen had a cistern dug by the late Peter Schneider. It was located back of the garage owned by Ed Mutter at that time. American Roller Company now owns the property. The capacity of the cistern was 8000 gallons. Dimensions were 22′ x 16′ x 8′. There was talk of another cistern to be dug northeast of the present White Elephant but this never materialized.
The fire department was taken over by the Town of Dover for $1.00 in the mid 1930’s and has been part of the town ever since. The first real meeting of the fire department was held July 6, 1938. A fine of ten cents per member was levied against absent members. It was raised to twenty-five cents later but was discontinued. Most of the members lived in Kansasville and when a fire broke out a fire bell, which was located on the front of the Mutter Garage, was rung. The bell came from the Hatz Tavern after it burned in 1932. For a time the fire equipment was stored in the Mutter Garage and later in the Hegemann Garage. Prior to being housed in our current building the fire equipment was housed in the town garage.
Dutch Vos was the first fire chief and served until 1941 who resigned due to health reasons. Ted Zelenski took over as fire chief. Jim Raymond succeeded Ted Zelenski in 1955 and held this position until his health failed him in 1977. Ollie Mutter then became chief until his retirement at which time George Strasser took over the duties in November 1981.
In September 1960, Jim Raymond drew up the first set of by-laws for the department. The members adopted them. Members were added each year. In 1977 the number of members was sixty five. This was made up of active and semi-active members. Firemen were expected to attend four training sessions each year. Bob Gioffredi taught these.
Notes from former years tell of fire runs that came at some bad times. Bill Morrow’s barn burned in January 1963. It was twenty degrees below zero and snowing. In April of 1975 Jeddy’s Bar in Brighton burned. Russell Rowe’s house burned around the holidays in 1968. It was 20 below and stiff winds.
Since the Case Model X numerous fire trucks have been purchased, a 1937 Ford, a 1941 Ford, a 1961 International, a 1965 4-wheel drive International and a 1970 International.
In 1975 firemen where paid $6.00 per hour per truck, the money was paid to the firemen by the town. Firemen paid for their own meeting and other expenses. They were also covered by Workers Compensation and another insurance policy, which was paid for by the town.
The fire bell that was used in the past was upgraded to a 2.5 horsepower siren and then a 7.5 horsepower siren. Marion Roach and Loraine Mutter used to alert the firemen by phone but that was a big time consuming job. The alerting system they acquired was more efficient and faster.
The fire department under the care of Jim Raymond came a long way. They were the best equipped department in the state. Their trucks and equipment was valued at $100,000, a long way from where they started in 1927.
Over the years a number of communications system were considered. The Motorola Company presented the use of home receivers and Plectron Systems were considered. All of them were used at one time. In 1970 Vince Menheer demonstrated Channel Masters. It was voted on to purchase 30 sets.
In March 1971, a library was set up on films on the fire fighting at a cost of $100 per year per department. In December 1971 a snowmobile was formed which could be called upon in an emergency.
An agreement was setup with Brighton in march of 1972 for fire protection. The cost was $1000 regardless of the number of runs in Brighton as well as a rate of $50 per hour per truck. In 1975 the chief brought up the topic of getting mutual aid with Rochester and Waterford. An agreement with Rochester was drawn up in 1977.
It was brought up that the fire departments and firemen could be fined if proper equipment was not used. They will be under federal fire inspections. One department was fined $8,000 for not having a fire extinguisher full.
In June 1974 firemen were informed that if one of them were killed in the line of duty the state would pay $25,000.
In August 1974 the department decided to distribute calendars and phone stickers to the community. They continued doing this for quite a few years.
Starting around 1970 the department held a dance each year to help meet expenses. Admission was $1.00 and bottles or cans of beer were sold for 35 cents.
The idea of purchasing a water truck was brought up at the September 1975 meeting. This was tabled until April 1976 meeting when it was brought up that a tandem would be needed at a cost of $23,000 to $32,000 for a new chassis. It must also have baffles in the tank if it is to be taken on the road. In April 1978, a 3000 gallon tank was purchased from C & D Duck Farm for $5241.
In November 1975, two females applied for admission for the department. They were informed that department had its quota now but they by-laws would be reviewed and if an opening became available they would be informed. At this time the department had 49 active, 14 semi-active and 18 firemen available during the day.
It was also announced that after 15 years on the fire department a member could get a $3000 pension or larger if on a longer time. This is all subject to what is passed by the legislature.
A projector was purchased from Kansasville School for a price of $25 in March of 1977, Ollie Mutter was responsible for storing it. In September 1977 a meeting was held for the purpose of forming a County Firemen’s Association. Nine departments attended the meeting in October.
In September 1978 the department looked into the possibility of purchasing jackets for the firemen, They were purchased from Hillenbrandts.
January 1979 brought about the suggestion that a new garage or addition to the Town Hall is needed. Bob Demuth quoted a price of $60,000 to $75,000 for a 60′ x 60. addition. The building was again talked about in November, this time a 40′ x 60′ size was discussed. It will be brought up at the town budget meeting.
The above is only a portion of history that has been found in a mixture of letters and meeting minutes. Sometime in the future we hope to have a more concise history documented as well as possibly a timeline of events.