Looking through a donation of materials from the Plymouth Fire Department, one of our Board members found a booklet commemorating the Department’s 25th Anniversary in 1985. The following text is an excerpt from Francis C. Bauer’s history of the Plymouth Fire Department, printed within the booklet. It describes the Department’s first fire call which took place 3 days before official service began on January 1, 1960.
The First Fire Call
The first fire alert – a large farm house west of County Road 18 on Count Road 10 – was on December 28 at 12:45 a.m. Plymouth police had already notified Crystal and Brooklyn Park fire department and notified the Plymouth Fire Department even though we did not yet have any equipment for the men, nor extra hose for the trucks (there were all delivered later that day).
The demonstrator was being housed in the H.C. Mayer filling station and had been taken out the day before by representatives of John Bean Corporation for a demonstration in Wisconsin. Because we were not going to be in service until January 1, the representatives had left an older model in the station which we had not worked on before. In addition, there was no water in the tank. You could imagine our concern at the first fire call – we had no water and no place to get water in Plymouth except for the use of a garden hose.
Chief Bauer called Golden Valley for assistance in filling the tank and was denied. He then called Wayzata and was assured that he could get water there. The Chief instructed the Captains to take their men to the scene of the fire, although they had no boots, coats or helmets, and to do what they could do to assist at the scene of the fire. The Chief and Lt. Don Mayer went to Wayzata to fill the tank and return to the scene of the fire 45 minutes after the call.
The Fire Chief of Crystal reported that there was no possible chance to save the structure due to the type of construction used to build the house and the limited amount of water that was available that night. Chief Bauer released the Crystal and Brooklyn Park Fire Departments, and Plymouth stayed by until everything was secured.
It didn’t take but a day or two before this young fire department heard that they had gone to a fire with an empty tank. There was no use in trying to explain what the real causes were, but the event established an esprit de corps within the department like nothing else possibly could. Many years later, men were still saying, “You’re sure we’ve got the tank full of water. We don’t want to go to a fire with an empty tank.”
Thank you to Paul Ellefson for this research.