Charlestown Fire Department

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Department History:
Charlestown was founded in 1808, and had suffered a major fire in October of 1907 with several blocks of downtown being destroyed. Before 1937 when the town purchased its first fire truck, the town relied on "Bucket" brigades, and housed the wagon that carried buckets and water at the railroad car bank located on what is now Main Cross Street and Depot Street. In 1937 the purchased a 1937 Chevy which was housed behind the then city jail near the corner of Green Alley and Market Street, the truck was of the "pump and roll" method. Without organization, fires were fought by those in town who felt that they could help when the fire truck drove past the local establishments looking for volunteers. In 1948, a city hall was constructed at 701 Main Street, and provided two bays to house the "town" fire trucks. 1948 a concerned group of the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood citizens obtained an old Chevy panel van, which was outfitted with ladders on its side and was equipped with fire extinguishers and five gallon water packs to fight fire due to the neighborhood experiencing several fires resulting in a total loss.That panel van was housed in a garage on Marshall Avenue, with was then relocated to the "Government" community building on Halcyon Street, the building would later be known as "Bobby's Sweet Shop".

The group named their organization the "Pleasant Ridge Volunteer Fireman's Association of the Corporation and Township of Charlestown", In which is now known as the Charlestown Volunteer Fire Department. In 1953 the 24 member association led by its first Chief Doug Braswell incorporated and adopted department bylaws. The department became a self governing body led by a Chief and a President voted by the membership. The first contracts to the City was for the amount of $2,000.00 and the Township was $500.00 were established to provide fire protection. Also in 1953 the department purchased its first truck a 1953 GMC pumper, this pumper was assigned to the township fire calls. The City purchased a 1953 American LaFrance "open Cab" pumper from the civil defense at the cost of $200.00. The truck was housed at City Hall along with the 1937 Chevy, both trucks were assigned for city fire calls.

1960 brought changes to the department as four property lots on Park Street were purchased  from Doug Braswell, and a loan was obtained to construct a new fire station. The department rebranded itself to the what is now the Charlestown Volunteer Fire Department, as well as moving into the new "Park Street" fire station. The fire station was constructed as a 40' x 60' building providing room for three truck bays and a meeting room. At this time City Hall was in need of more room the 1953 American LaFrance "city" truck was moved to the facility, as well as the 1953 GMC, and the addition of a 1954 GMC "front mount" pumper. In 1967 the growing city and township required the purchase of a 1962 GMC pumper, and an additional 20' x 60' was added to the sire station. 1976 the department had to add additional space, the meeting room of 20' x 60' was added to the rear of the station to provide room for the trucks in the bay area.

In 1978, the growth of the Northern part of the township protection area, specifically the unincorporated community of Otisco, Indiana. This justified the need for a substation, and after obtaining nearly a 100% support from the community a piece of property was donated by William "Bill" and Marilyn Caldwell. This 40' x 40' substation was constructed at the intersection of Leon Prall Road and Seatick Road and assigned as Station 2. The new fire station was purchased from Harpring Steel (Charlestown) from owner Tom Harpring who was a citizen of the Otisco community. With the opening of the new fire station 10 additional members
was required, the members became State certified in nearly record time a (100 hour of training). The 1954 GMC pumper was relocated to the station, a military 4x4 vehicle, and another military tanker was obtained to supplement as a brush truck and tanker. With the Assistance of the First Bank of Charlestown members were able to purchase radio monitors for $350.00, which would aid in a more efficient response to calls.

During the 1980's the department doubled their amount collected for the WHAS Crusade for Children from $9,300.00 to $23,000.00 to help the needs of special needs children. In the early 1980's the department saw an increase of automobile accidents provoking members to pursue additional medical and rescue training. The department also pursued in purchasing the "Jaws of Life" rescue equipment which was donated by the First Bank of Charlestown. In 1986 the Charlestown-Oregon Townships Fire Protection Board was form to eliminate the need for fire protection contracts since the federal funding was eliminated. 1987 brought the addition of a 1987 Pierce "top mount" pumper, with that the start of a new paint scheme for the department going from all red trucks to white with a red stripe.