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History of the Department

The following is an exerpt taken from the publication, "...Fields of Flowers and Forests of Firs... A HISTORY OF THE WOODLAND COMMUNITY 1850 ~ 1958", 1999 Revised Edition by Judy Card

THE HISTORY OF THE WOODLAND FIRE DEPARTMENT as recalled by R.A. Schiewe, First Chief In the early history of the town of Woodland, the only fire protection was a well in the center of the streets at Davidson and Second and this was before there was electricity in the town, and in case of a fire, the people used a hand pump and bucket brigade.

The early West was full of pioneers, and Woodland was no exception, for in the early nineteen hundreds, Bill Lawyer built and maintained the first electric service in Woodland.

With electric service available, the residents saw the need for a water system, having an abundance of good water flowing right by their door. They put in a water system using wooden pipes, which lasted many years.

As the town was growing slowly but steady, the need for fire protection was recognized, so the Town Council bought two hand drawn carts, one of which carried about 300 feet of hose, and the other was a chemical tank, holding about 30 gallons of water, using acid and soda which, when mixed, created pressure forcing the water out through the hose, which was a one inch hose, having a small nozzle.

The Town Council built a small building on the river bank, where the present fire station now stands, where this equipment was placed. On the ringing of the fire bell, in case of fire, it was every ones duty to help. The man on the main street would run and pull these carts to the fires. At times, someone would have a car with a running board on it, and several men would stand on it holding ropes attached to a cart, and that way tow it to the fire. There was no organized control of the equipment, or in fighting a fire. A meeting was called to organize a fire department. This occurred the latter part of 1924.

At the time the writer, R.A. Schiewe, owned and operated the first plumbing shop in town, was present at this meeting. After considerable discussion, he was appointed as temporary Fire Chief, with authority to organize a Fire Department of about 15 or more men. After a number of months spent contacting men up and down the streets, getting them out for drills and instructions, and answering fire calls, we formed the first organized Fire Department on April 1, 1925, which has continued to serve the people of Woodland up to the present time.

The Charter, so-called, signed by each of the original members is still in the Fire Station and reads as follows:

APRIL 1st 1925

WE THE UNDERSIGNED HEREBY MAKE APPLICATION FOR CHARTER MEMBERSHIP IN THE WOODLAND VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT: 1. R.A. Schiewe 2. Royce Mitchell 3. W.V. Sheltus 4. P.W. Stratton 5. Karl H. Assumsson 6. A.D. Manchester 7. Ralph Siegel 8. Wm. Englert 9. E.C. Blue 10. A.G. Schumann 11. Fred S. Bryant 12. Albert McCorkle 13. C.M. Youngstrom 14. George W. Taggart 15. J.William Collins, Jr.

At the first meeting of this group, Schiewe was elected as first Chief. We continued to serve the people of Woodland, improve the equipment; and as large city's had motor driven trucks, we discussed at considerable length the possibility of having some motor car or truck in our department.

Clarence Youngstrom told us about an overland car which his Dad, Andy Youngstrom, had just setting out in a field at his place near where the United Bulb Farm is now located. The boys went out, looked it over, decided that if we could get it we would rebuild it to make a truck out of it. Mr. Youngstrom gladly gave us the car, and after months of hard work overhauling it, it finally began to run. We took it to Mr. Lauderback, a boat builder living in Woodland who made a truck body for the car. The chemical tank was mounted behind the seat and a body for the 2 1/2" hose, with a platform in the rear for the firemen to stand on was added.

We all were very proud of our first fire truck and it showed the residents how fast we could get to a fire, and it gave us a talking point in getting the people to vote for a new modern fire truck. But first we needed a new fire hall to house it. The town council gave us permission to wreck the old frame building, and the firemen built the present fire hall, which still stands at the end of Davidson Avenue. It must be remembered that this building DID NOT cost the City of Woodland, or the tax payers, one cent. The firemen went to the bank and signed a note for $800.00, and after several years the firemen paid it off. This was in 1928, the year that the town bought the Peter Pirsch fire truck. This was the first Peter Pirsch fire truck in the State of Washington. The following year Kalama bought one just like it.

During the 1948 flood the WFD was asked to police and patrol the town of Woodland. The fire hall was one of the main centers of control with extra phones and a place where at least eight men were on eight hours shifts 24 hours a day.

By 1952 the city floated a bond and with the aid of our fire districts we purchased a powerful new Mack fire truck capable of pumping nearly 1000 gallons per minute. The old 1928 Peter Pirsch was now sold--but we understand is still in service in the upper Lewis River Valley.

During the last 10 years the WFD has sponsored Christmas parties for the kids--putting on a show and giving away up to 450 bags of candy every year.

The WFD has 2 resuscitators for use in drowning or other asphyxiation. One was donated by the Elks. Ninety percent of the members carry current first aid cards and want the people of the Woodland community to feel that we are at your service night and day.

In 1932 the City Council asked the WFD to take over the management of Planters Day and they have sponsored it ever since except for 1948 when it was canceled because of the flood. In about the year 1939, state laws of Washington were passed to make rural fire districts possible. The WFD took it upon themselves to be the first in the state to form one. Fire District #1 in Cowlitz County. Fire District #2 in Clark County followed soon.

In 1941 the city bought a new Ford V-8 fire truck and retired the old home made Studebaker which had been used as an auxiliary piece of equipment for many years. Along with the Peter Pirsch and 20 good men we had one of the highest ratings among departments of our size during the war. Shortly after the war Fire District #1 bought a war surplus tank truck, for use in the country to add to our fleet.

It is interesting to note that none of the firemen receive any money for their services. All the money that firemen make goes into the Jack-Pot and is used for improvements in the department, and the welfare of the community.

The first letters of Woodland Fire Department are W.F.D., and the boys used to call it "WORK FREELY DONE."

Following is the list of men who have been Fire Chiefs and the year they served. 1925 R. A. Schiewe, 1926 E.C. Blue, 1927 W.A. Sheltus, 1928 Carl Tesch, 1929 Karl Assumson, 1930 Dick Grubort, 1936 Fred Bryant, 1940 Scott Clauson, 1942 Bill Blum, 1948 James Backman, 1951 Ray Lochio, 1954 Walt Hansen, 1957 Lenus Boys, 1958 John Hannam