The Wetumpka Fire Department was formed in 1906. Mr. Walter Thomas was the chief followed by James A. Wall, Joe Clifton, Bob Hallonquest, Morris Goolsby, and D.W. McDonald served as joint chief, O.R. Warner, S.C. Estes, Emmit Moseley, Jake Strickland, Keith Gilmore and at present Greg Willis.
The first fire apparatus was a hand pulled cart for the purpose of carrying the hose to the fire. In 1940, the city bought an open cab truck designed to carry hose and ladders. All fires had to be fought with uncontrolled water straight from the plug. In 1948 the Wetumpka Fire Department got its first pumper which was a very big step for the department.
This was the first time water could be carried to a fire and pressure could be controlled with a pump. In 1952, a second pumper was purchased for approximately $12,000.00. This truck was considered to be a top line truck with first class capabilities. Through the years, the department has increased its equipment and now has a total of four pumpers, one medium rescue pumper, one ladder truck, one pumper/tanker, a command unit and three brush trucks. This department is now considered to have some of the finest equipment of any fire department in the state.
The first fire station was located on East Hill Street adjacent to the Elmore County Court House. It was located on a hill which was convenient since many times the trucks had to be pushed down the hill to get them cranked.
Fire calls were received by a telephone which was mounted on a power pole across from C.E. Turner’s Service Station. When the calls came in a loud buzzer would sound and Mr. Turner would answer and dispatch the police or sound the fire siren, which would alert the firemen to come to the fire station. There were no radios so each fireman had to be told verbally where the fire was or follow the fire trucks to the fire. In later years a telephone ring down system was installed to where 21 fireman could be called at once alerting them of the fire. The siren system was still used since all the firemen might not be at home to receive the call. Later, a paging system was purchased whereby each fireman carried a pager and is paged by voice telling them the location of the fire. Each fireman also has a radio and is in touch with the dispatcher and fire chief at all times.
In 1972, a new fire station was built and located on South Main across from First National Bank which is now the City Administrative Building. This facility replaced the old one on Hill Street and was designed to house three trucks, rescue boats, meeting room and office space. It is still the #1 Station. In May 1985, Station #2 was built at the corner of Coosa and Broad Street, on the west of the river. This allowed quicker response to fires in this area of town. The #2 Station was designed three fire engines. In 1994, Wetumpka had expanded its city limits north bringing Wallsboro into its police jurisdiction. They had a volunteer fire department in Wallsboro, so Wetumpka purchased their station and equipment giving Wetumpka its third station plus additional firemen. This facility also housed three trucks. Wetumpka has recently extended its city limits south to the Tallapoosa River and have placed a station #4 on Hwy. 231, and it houses one engine.
Through good leadership and dedicated members the fire department has grown and is considered to be one of the best fire departments in the state. It presently has volunteer, part-time and full-time firefighters and an ISO rating of class four. Today’s fire department is a proud one and has taken a lot of work by many people to have made it what it is today. The members stand ready for any challenge – be it fire, flood, rescue or just making a big show in the Christmas parade.
Source: History of Wetumpka, by Francis Porter and Personal Knowledge
Written By: Firefighter Sam Turner