1894 to 1929
The Village of Menomonee Falls sits in the farthest northeast corner of Waukesha County. In 1844, the village had a population of about 100 settlers. Five years later, they had grown to 1340 which started their climb to today's population of 38,000. In 1892 they incorporated as a village and have defeated any referendums seeking to change to a city form of government.
By the year 1894, the citizens of the village realized that fire protection was imminently needed since there had been fire losses experienced in previous years when there was only a "bucket brigade." On May 30,1894 a special meeting of the Village Board was held to decide on the organization of a volunteer fire company.
First Meeting of the Menomonee Falls Volunteer Fire Company
At the Village Board meeting of June 11, 1894, a motion was made to accept the proposition for a #4 Combined Chemical and Water Engine from Howe Truck and Engine of Indianapolis, Indiana. A second motion was made to elect John Huebner Chief of the Fire Department.
Eight days later, on June 19, 1894, the first meeting of the Menomonee Falls Volunteer Fire Company was called to order.
Members came from all walks of life. The firemen themselves were a power in the village and wielded considerable influence by their numbers and strong organization. Six out of the seven village Board members were charter members and officers of the Menomonee Falls Fire Company Number 1.
They then changed their name to Menomonee Falls Fire Company No. 1 and adopted a constitution and bylaws subject to amendments and election of officers.
At the conception of the Company, there were no street lights in the Village, so young boys, with a great interest in the Company, would fill kerosene lamps for the wagons and hold torches to light up the scene.
At the establishment of the Company, applications for membership were so numerous that a limit had to be set. The limit was quickly filled and a membership in the Company became one of the most prized possessions in the Village.
The volunteer fireman was expected to stop whatever he was doing, whether work or play, and rush to a fire when the alarm sounded. If he violated the rules and regulations he was fined. He was consistent, ever fervent in his duty and willingness, at all times, to gamble with his own life to save the life of another.
The "pillbox" was used for balloting of members of the Company since its incorporation in 1894 until 1971. Any person wishing to become a member of the Company needed to be proposed by a member of the Company. At the next meeting they would be balloted for with ball ballots. If not more than four black balls appeared against him, he would be elected, but if five or more appeared he would be rejected.
Building Fire Company No. 1
As the Company continued to establish itself, a contract was approved on July 5,1894 for a hose wagon and the purchase of a Hook and Ladder truck for a sum not to exceed $1,000. The July 11, 1894 meeting brought about the decision to hold fire practice every first and third Tuesday of the month, establishing Tuesday as practice / drill nights, which continues today.
By October 2, 1894 they realized the need for a permanent building, hall, and water supply, so they approved the raising of $2,000, thus the tradition of a fireman's dance started and continued until the 1980s. The building was completed and occupied by December of 1898.
Click here to see the view from the bell tower of the original station in 1913!
Use these links for a copy with the Landmark buildings labeled. or to download a high resolution image.
Members came from all walks of life. The firemen themselves were a power in the village and wielded considerable influence by their numbers and strong organization. Six out of the seven Village Board members were charter members and officers of the Menomonee Falls Fire Company No. 1.
The volunteer fireman was expected to stop whatever he was doing, whether work or play and rush to a fire when the alarm sounded. If he violated the rules and regulations he was fined. He was consistent, ever fervent in his duty and willingness at all times to gamble with his own life to save the life of another.
Since the Department's inception, we've participated in community events. May 30, 1895 Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Decoration Day Parade.
1900-Village Population is 687
Wanting to be up to date, October 1906 saw the appropriation of $1,200 for a new motor driven pump, with a hand pump connection. The old hose wagon was discarded and a new hose reel was purchased.
1910-Village Population is 919
1920-Village Population is 1,019
In 1920 a by-law change was made providing for the ouster of non-participating members being absent from roll call, either at a meeting or fire call for 3 months, would be expelled unless he sent a written or verbal request to the Chief. A 2/3 vote of the membership was then required for the extension. Also, members absent were fined fifteen cents per meeting and $1.00 for the yearly inspection.
1921 saw little fire activity as they responded to five calls, two within the village and three for mutual aid.
In 1922 there were 19 members in good standing. At full quota the fire company should have had 31 members to properly man the apparatus. Of the Charter members of the Company only two were still on the active rolls. Of the remaining seventeen members the average length of service was just under five years. By the fall of 1922 the newly elected Chief solicited the press for support of the Company. Soon they saw an increase to 51 members.
An electric fire siren was purchased in 1922 and installed on the roof of the Menomonee Falls Mfg. Co. Citizens were asked to help with the testing of the siren, by listening for the clearness and loudness of the signal during the test period of midnight - 1 am on April 10, 1922. The siren was returned to the manufacturer the following week. The purchase of a modern fire alarm system would come in 1929. The system was officially sounded every day at noon, a practice that continued up to 1983.
During the year of 1923, the Chief and Company, recognized the need for new apparatus and the financing for the company operations, so a committee was appointed to raise necessary capital. This committee would deal with the annual dance, but their real efforts were directed to arrange for an August picnic, complete with parade, amusements, dance, and a sideshow. The Committee did their job well, as they were able to purchase a $1,000 Government Savings Certificate that year.
1926 Company No 1
A special order was issued in 1929 to improve the attendance at roll calls. The company would pay an attendance prize of $2.50. The winner was decided by placing all members' names in a hat.