St. Clair Fire Departments' History

In the beginning there were great storms that raged over our planet. These storms helped shape the seas, skies and land. These storms had static energies we call lightening. Lightening would strike a forest, burning it down to a barren wasteland. In time this waste land would flourish, re-grow into something more than what existed before. The lightening created new beginnings for the plants, trees and grass. This is the cycle of nature. As the creature we call man appeared on the planet, man became a civilization, civilization would grow with nature surrounding them. Civilization learned that the fires caused by nature could supply warmth and light. When civilization learned how to harness the power of fire, he found it, (the power), could get out of control and cause tremendous damage to life and property. As civilization grew people realized the need to protect themselves from this sudden uncontrolled rage of fire. People learned to fight back, to stop this uncontrolled force we call fire. Hence we have firefighters. People that would put themselves in harms way to save their neighbors' life or property from the uncontrolled inferno.

The first organized St. Clair Fire Department was founded in October of 1874. Previous to that, when an alarm was sounded, a steam operated whistle at the water works, in town, would sound and anyone capable of pulling a two wheeled hose cart ran for one of the three hose houses which were located in the first, second and third wards of town.

Record books from the years 1874 through 1904 have not been found. We have, in the fire station record books, starting with the year 1904 to the present.

In 1904 (and probably prior to that) the Chief was Mr. D.P. Ingles and Mr. George Beyschlag was foreman. The position foreman later became First Assistant Chief.

In 1905 the department elected Mr. John P. Whiting as Chief and Mr. George Beyschlag retained the office of foreman.

In 1911 Mr. Abner Wilson was elected secretary of the fire department and held that office until 1960.

According to records, a horse drawn hose wagon was purchased in the year 1907, a modern fire department was now beginning to take shape.

In 1912 George Beyschlag was elected Chief and Mr. Joseph Kulnlein was made foreman, a position he held until his death in 1914.

In 1915 Mr. A.A. Seward was elected foreman for 2 years

Until 1917, Mr. John Caslor was elected foreman.

On March 16, 1918,A special meeting was called by the department to discuss the purchase of a new fire truck. After meeting with the city council, it was decided to purchase a Maxwell truck to be housed and maintained by Mr. Seward in his garage, Mr. Seward being a distributor of Maxwell trucks and cars, this seemed to be most logical. This garage was in the vicinity of Burharts' beer garden, which is no longer existent today, but is west of M-29 on Trumble, in town. This truck had hard rubber tires, was chain driven, had no cab or windshield, was equipped with a 50 gallon soda and acid tank and carried 800 foot of 2 " hose to extinguish fires.

In 1921, John Caslor was elected Chief and Floyd Haar First Assistant.

The year 1925 will be remembered as the year of the purchase of the new American LeFrance, a six cylinder pumper, chain driven, no cab or windshield, but, it did have pneumatic tires and was a right hand drive vehicle. This vehicle was sold off by the city and found by the departments' members' years later, bought back and restored to original condition. OLE' No. 25 can still be seen today in parades and special events.

In 1927, the officers were changed again, Mr. Floyd Haar was elected Chief, Mr. Clarence Norcott, First Assistant and Mr. Fred Scheuricher was appointed to Second Assistant Chief. Mr. Norcott resigned Jan. 6, 1928 and was replaced by Leon Shedd on Feb 2, 1928.

The roll call varied in those days from, not enough for a quorum to 17 members. At one time the department had six pairs of boots for 17 men, a limited amount of hose and no extras to fight fires.


St. Clair Fire Department History Part 2

In 1931 Mr. Ab Wilson was appointed Second Assistant Chief along with the secretary's duties.
In 1934 Mr. T.R. Bower was elected First Assistant Chief and all other officers remained in office.
In 1935 Mr. Bower was elected Chief and Mr. Arthur Beaudua First Assistant Chief, Mr. Jack Miller Second Assistant Chief and Mr. Henry Frank treasurer. A change was made in the Second Assistant Chiefs' position as Mr. Jack Millet resigned and Mr. William. Laffrey was elected to the position. The Fire Department received orders from the city council that the fire truck was not to respond to fire calls in the township beyond the end of the of the city water mains, as we were operating with one fire truck and the city needed fire protection first. In view of this order we did serve the people of St. Clair and the township to the best of our ability. There were times when this was a real chase.
In 1937 Sherwood Mortinger was elected Second Assistant with all other officers remaining in their respective positions.
In 1939 The chemical tank was removed from the fire truck and a booster tank was installed.
In the war year of 1942, the state of Michigan purchased over 35 trucks for distribution in various parts of the state. These trucks varied in pump capacity from 500GPM to 1000GPM and the City of St. Clair was lucky to have one 500GPM pumper delivered here, giving the Fire Department two pumpers, thus expanding our fire protection beyond the previous limits.
In 1944 Clyde Springborn was elected treasurer. After serving in this office for a short time Clyde was elected Second Assistant Chief and Don Ross took over as treasurer. Mike Blanchard was elected Captain. These changes took place in 1946.
In 1947 A new American Le France truck was purchased by the city. This truck had a 750 GPM pump and a booster hose reel along with its' other equipment, giving us good firefighting power along with the other two trucks. The fire dept. sent a delegation to the Michigan State Firemans' Association convention in Sault Ste. Marie to try to get the convention in St. Clair in 1948. This was accomplished and preparations were started for this project. We were happy to report this was a success with over 400 delegates attending. In the past few years the number attending this event has risen to between 800 and 1000. Don Ross resigned because he was moving out of the city. Raymond Moore was chosen as treasurer for the balance of the year.
In 1948 Ray was elected to that office.
In 1949 Our first resuscitator was purchased . Funds for the machine were donated by the Lions and Rotary Clubs and the Fire Dept. The Fire Dept. operated on a routine basis until 1955 when Willliam Woods was elected Captain and a new fire truck was purchased, a 750GPM capacity unit. With the addition of this truck, our housing space was crowded.
In 1956 We returned the state truck to Lansing. Mr. T.R. Bower resigned and at the election of officers Mr. Arthur Beaudua waas elected Chief, Clyde Springborn was First Assistant, Carl Wagner was Second Assistant and Nelson Westrick was Captain.
In 1958 The city sold the 1925 fire truck and we were back to two trucks.


To Be Continued ... HOME

This page was last updated on 07/21/12.