The Warsaw Fire Department began evolving as early as 1858 when the town had quite an array of frame structures and some had already been scorched or more seriously damaged by fire. By that time, the volunteer bucket brigade had been outgrown, so a meeting was called to discuss a means of organizing a regular fire department.
Since the town treasury had no excess funds available to purchase equipment, a joint stock company was formed which issued fifty shares at $5 per share. Shortly after, enough money was raised to purchase a second-hand engine.
The Independent Protection Engine Company No. 1 was organized in 1859 with 38 charter members and Joseph A. funk as the chief engineer. A hand-pumping engine with 500 feet of hose was bought for $300. The company leased a strip of land on the corner of Center and Buffalo Streets and erected an engine house.
Warsaw suffered a serious blow on January 24, 1861, when the block on the northeast corner of Buffalo and Market Streets burned. Although that building was destroyed, surrounding structures were saved. The company’s success at containing the fire brought such credit to both engine and firemen that the town trustees purchased the stock of the citizens’ company. Thereafter, the name was changed and Hose Company No. 1 was organized.
In April 1861, in response to the call for troops at the beginning of the War of the Rebellion, 39 members of the Warsaw Fire Department enlisted for the national service and Company No. 1 was almost disorganized. However, recruitment in the community soon brought the department to its original strength and the high standard of the organization was maintained.
The department expanded during the following years and in 1876 when Warsaw had been a city for one year, its fire department was as follows:
Protection Company No. 1, 26 members and Hose Company No. 1, 13 members, in one organization; Never Fails No. 2, 18 members, and Hose Company No. 2, 12 members, in another organization; Lake City Hook and Ladder No. 1, 15 members; Independent Hose Company No. 1, 16 members. Records show that the first full-time paid fireman was hired in 1912.
To date, the City of Warsaw has lost only one fireman in the line of duty. Fireman Harold Shepler, age 42, died October 20, 1930. Shepler was on duty at the time of a fire at a residence on E. Center Street and drove the pumper to the scene. The house was filled with smoke by the time he got there. Shepler and several other firemen went into the basement of the house to search for the fire’s origin. Dense smoke soon forced the other firefighters out. Shepler finally left the basement and as he stopped in the yard to report to Chief Moon, he collapsed and fell to the ground. Despite emergency efforts by Dr. Samuel Murphy, Shepler never regained consciousness.
|The City Hall building on the southeast corner of Market and High Streets was built in 1952 by Mayor Mike Hodges, who owned a construction business. The structure originally had four large over-head doors for the fire department. What is now Fire Station #2 at 2204 E. Center Street was built in 1978, and the east part of City Hall was converted into the Council Chambers. Fire Station #1 at 109 E. Main Street was built in 1982.