Early History of a Midwestern Fire Department, Vol I
Early History of a Midwestern Fire Department, rooted in volunterism, grounded in tradition and matured by over a hundred and fifty years of blood sweat and tears. A story of hard work, heart break, and heroism told from the department's perspective. More
This is the “History of the South Bend Fire Department” as best we know it, written from the perspective of the department itself.
Looking back through the years up to our present time one can’t help but see how today’s SBFD is part of something much bigger than any single generation of stations, apparatus, and firefighters. As you turn through the pages of our department’s growth and evolution hopefully you will realize how valuable our history is to a sense of pride, belonging and ownership. It is important for us not to forget where we came from.
In compiling this history I experienced a flow of mental images from a bygone era, a sense of community and a renewed desire to be a part of something important. I began to see in my mind people, places, and events long since past. I began to feel attitudes of the way things were, and still are, for the most part. The people, and the events they were thrust into, became real to me and not just words on a page.
Since completing this work, many of the pioneer firefighters I’ve read about, and all of those who have come before me (some with us and some past) have become mentors to me, showing directly and indirectly, through example, how to be a good firefighter and a member of a brotherhood that spans generations. Though today many of them belong to the ages and to history, to us they are brothers-in-arms teaching us and watching our backs as we advance on the rest of our career. Their commitment to duty, their reliance on honor and their willingness to sacrifice, leaped from the pages and took root in my soul. Their stories filled me with a pride I have never felt before and created in me a deep, intimate, sincere understanding of those who came before, along with a feeling that I am a part of something much bigger than my small contribution.
The further I dug, the more I read, the closer I felt, to the people that were, and the department that was. And before my research could bring me through the 1940s, something had changed in me. I was even more proud to be a member of the South Bend Fire Department. I was no longer on the outside looking in. I have come to know deep down, that I am a part of this history and that what we do on a daily basis is of historic importance.
It is my sincere desire that those of you who read this history, that are also firefighters - especially those of you who are members of the South Bend Fire Department - will gain the same sense of pride, the same sense of belonging, and the same sense of history I now have. It is truly a blessing to belong to such a noble organization, built on the Herculean effort and civic pride of so many that have come before us, those former firefighters and citizens of South Bend.
This history is dedicated to them.