Yuma Volunteer Fire Department
History of the Yuma Volunteer Fire Department-Yuma County Historical Society, Actions on the Plains, January,1970.
The Yuma Volunteer Fire Department was organized November 26, 1920. John Kirwin was chief and Jess Dickson was driver. The first serious fire was in January,1921 when an express car caught on fire. The damage was considerable, but if the fire department hadn't responded, the damage would have been much greater. It was estimated at $12,000.
The first "Fireman's Ball" was held in 1921. This occasion has always been one of the annual affairs. People contribute by buying dance tickets whether or not they plan to attend. The fire boys are gala in their red shirts and hats. The dance is the only contribution that is sought by the organization and is usually held in February.
On occasion the men have a family night with a dinner, and a picnic is held during the summer. Every year the children of the town are given free rides on the big trucks. When the siren blows on Wednesday night, it is a reminder that the fire boys are meeting for serious discussion on fire fighting. Motor are tested and hoses and connections are put in repair. When the sirens sound and alar, one sees a wild rush to the station where the men mount the trucks and are off. Some of them have been known to be dressing while on the way to the fire.
The first fire fighting equipment was a hand pumper which the men pulled or pushed or towed. Three was also a hose cart. Dan McQuaid was town manager at the time of the organization of the Volunteer Fire Department. He was very enthusiastic in promoting things that would make the organization and their work better. In 1922, a LaFrance fire truck was bought to replace the Model T, which had been the men’s pride and joy.
Contests were organized, and the teams went to various places to take part in contests relative to firemen’s’ activities. The Yuma Department won at a convention in Boulder and have taken other prizes throughout the years.
Rural fire zones have been established. They are bounded by lines towns east of Otis, tow miles east of Eckley, north to the correction line and south to the base line. These fire zones have added greatly to the security of the farm and ranch owners, and in many instances, fires have been kept from destroying farm and ranch buildings, fences, corrals, etc. Prairie and wheat fires are still a menace to outlying areas but are not as dreaded as they were before the days of rural organization.
In operations with the fire trucks is and Emergency Wagon, a Chevrolet four-wheel drive, equipped with emergency fire-fighting equipment, stretcher, oxygen, radio and foam machine.
The city truck, purchased September, 1954, is a beautiful LaFrance mode. It is equipped with a mid-ship pump, five-hundred-gallon capacity, and will pump five hundred gallons per minute. It is rated as on the top firefighting apparatus of the time. The rural truck is a Ford, four-wheel drive mode., equipped with a radio, and has a one-thousand-gallon water capacity. It was bought in April, 1964, It has pum0p, or five hundred gallons per minute, from a front mounted pump, It can be in operation on the move with five one-inch lines, or operated as a stationary pump with two four-inch lin. It is equipped with a public address system and all necessary fire-fighting equipment. The department has a practice truck which is state approved.
Nearly fifty years of organization brought the Yuma Fire Department into a highly respected organization. At present, January, 1970, there are twenty-eight active members. Present officers are Chief, Bernard Flemister; Assistant Chief, Sandy Magee; Captain, Dick Stallings; Lieutenant, Wayne Gleason; Secretary, Verl Boughman; Trustees, Marvin VanHorn, Herb Damm and Wayne Gleason.