Jamestown Rural Fire Department History
The roots of the Jamestown Rural Fire Department go back to the days when the city fire department took equipment out on farm calls. Farmers in the vicinity learned to rely on modern firefighting equipment, but eventually insurance regulations stopped the city trucks from going out on country calls. Having witnessed the effectiveness of good equipment and expert firefighters for years, the farmers knew what they were missing!
Consequently, 13 townships decided to form a Rural Fire Association and buy equipment of their own. They started out by collecting $25 from farmers who wanted to contribute that much toward buying equipment. It soon became evident that satisfactory management of such an organization would be impossible.
In the spring election of 1949 the voters in the 13 townships approved a township levy for the purpose of buying and maintaining firefighting equipment. The first truck was purchased for $7800; The GMC 1.5 ton truck had a heated pump compartment with a 500 gallon water tank and was completely outfitted for rural firefighting. Making its first fire run the day it was delivered on 4/9/1949, an elevator fire in the village of Millarton.
With an agreement between the city and the association the rural truck would be housed at the city Fire Station and the truck would be manned with firemen from the Jamestown Volunteer Fire Department under direction of the city fire chief. When the fire whistle blew the volunteers reported to the fire station and only 3-5 firemen were sent to fight the rural fire.
After eleven years of successful cooperation with the city fire department, things were about to change. Added townships to the association; increased fire calls; the need for more rural fire trucks; and the widening gap between rural firefighting tactics and urban (city) firefighting tactics; the decision was made by the city fire chief, city mayor, and the rural fire association to dissolve their affiliation. This led the Rural Fire Association to reorganize and the Jamestown Rural Fire District was formed in May 1960.
George Johnson who had been a volunteer with the city fire department for 27 years was appointed the first Chief of the Jamestown Rural Fire Department and Charles Hunt was selected as the first Asst. Chief. These two men were given two tasks to accomplish: First get volunteers for the Jamestown Rural Fire Department and second find a new home for the department.
The men found garage space at the bus depot for the truck (The Civic Center now occupies the site); they moved in on July 4th and had the first fire call as the Jamestown Rural Fire Department on July 5th. The meeting room was located in the basement until 1966 when the District decided to construct a new 40×60 fire hall. Additions to this building were completed in 1975 and then again in 1988 to its current state.
The Jamestown Rural Fire District serves 22 townships which spans roughly 828 square miles. These areas include the Jamestown Reservoir, Pipestem Reservoir, Arrowwood Wildlife Refuge, US highway 281 and Interstate 94. The largest loss recorded by the rural department was the Pillsbury elevator. One million bushels of grain burned for three months from November to February.
The Jamestown Rural Fire Department currently has 26 firemen; all trained to NFPA 1001 Standards. Equipment currently maintained by the District consists of : 2-fully equipped pumper trucks ( the newest a 2008 freightliner 1250 gallon, 1250 GPM truck purchased through FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program), 3-Water Tenders, 3-Grass/Wildland Interface Trucks, 1-Support Van, 14-ISI Viking SCBA’s, 1-Zoll AED, 1-ISG K1000 Thermal Imager Camera.
The Jamestown Rural Fire District and Rural Fire Department strives to provide the best equipped, highly trained, Professional Volunteers to serve the community they protect!
1949-1954 Forest Egleston Jamestown City Fire Chief
1954-1960 Percy Wellman Jamestown City Fire Chief
5/1960 – 12/1991 George Johnson
3/1991 – 2/1993 Neil “Tex” Weatherly
3/1993 – 2/1994 Don Rowell
4/1994 – 2/1995 Neil “Tex” Weatherly
3/1995 – 2/2008 George Gray
3/2008 – Current Wayne Fylling