Sharon Volunteer Fire Department
36 West Main Street
Sharon, Connecticut 06069
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Sharon Fire Department is one of the oldest and longest running organized Volunteer Fire Departments in the State of Connecticut. During the late 1880's as American's began the long recovery from the Civil War, Sharon's scenic country side attracted a substantial vacation community. Wealthy visitors including Charles Tiffany and R.R. Colgate fell in love with the elm tree lined Town Green, the rolling hills and the quiet valleys, and often purchased and refurbishing older homes or erected a series of Colonial Revival style mansions that still grace the South Green. To accommodate the increasing seasonal visitors, large framed Inn's were constructed and drew such guests as General William T. Sherman and Thomas Edison.
In the Spring of 1889, prompted by an earthquake that was centered in York, Pennsylvania yet strong enough to agitate the water in the Housitonic River and a flood in Johnstown that took 2200 lives, merchants, farmers and residents gathered to discuss methods to protect their properties during times of disaster, and to formally organize a department to serve the community.
Many volunteers were naive to the dangers and hazards involved in and around a fire and the physical demand of disaster relief. Distance, inexperience and building construction were all too often to difficult to overcome and would result in many great disasters of the era. Some of the earliest operations that took place at many fires of the day were to salvage personal effects from unburned sections of a home, barn or business in an attempt to secure the welfare of the survivors or form bucket brigades to wet down adjacent structures and salvaged personal belongings.
Though great breakthroughs were being made in regard to firefighting equipment throughout the late 19th Century, such as cotton jacketed hose and the development of bunker gear, little if any affordable equipment was available in 1889 for a rural department. It was not until America industrialized, replacing man and horse drawn carriages and steam pumpers with motorized vehicles capable of carrying hose and men to remote locations, thus revolutionizing the art of fire fighting.
Sharon took advantage of the technological growth of the nation and in 1922 took delivery of their first Motorized Fire Fighting Apparatus. A 1919 REO Speed Wagon complete with hose bed, ladder rack and an internal pump that boasted a maximum of 250 gallons per minute of continuous water flow. Sharon was now able to respond to the outter edges of the community in times of need. It is uknown how many alarms Engine 1 responded to during her time of service or how many gallons of water she moved over the years, though privately owned, Engine 1 is well cared for and still calls Sharon home, she continues her service faithfully, often being used for local parades, weddings and on occasion funerals.
For 10 years, Engine 1 proved herself worthy, responding to alarms and revolutionizing the way fires were fought in the North West Corner. Members marveled at the benefits that this wonderful mechanical machine could do for them. In the Summer of 1932, Sharon Fire Department would double it's effectiveness by purchasing their second Motorized Apparatus a 1932 REO Speed Wagon, purchased through Brewer Bros. of Canaan, Ct. The new truck enabled the Department to attack a fire with multiple hose lines putting more water onto the fire. Engine 2 or as she is more commonly known as, the "REO" still resides in her home at the main station and still holds an "In Service" status though she is rarely used at an alarm. Her job in the department now is more of public relations than disaster relief. Wearing her battle scars with pride she remains in original condition.
As soldiers returned from Europe and the Pacific following the end of the Second World War, the ranks of the Department swelled. The returning Veterans, many trained for tasks such as truck driving, carpentry, medics and plumbers would all have a major impact in the coming years.
Through the mid 1940's the nations population was growing, and it was not limited to the big cities. New homes began to paint the hillsides and valleys. Telephones and televisions were becoming commonplace and the Standard of Living was never higher.
It was in the late 1940's that the members of the Taghhannuck Grange, the center of local agriculture, foresaw a growing community delema, and in true American fashion they devised a way solve the problem. They approached the Fire Department with an oppertunity. One that would help the Department develop to their highest potential, and in turn build a stronger community. The need for quality emergency medical care and transportation for rural residents was of great concern.
In 1948 the members of the Sharon Fire Department voted to accept a La Salle Ambulance (est. $3,000.00) from the Taghhannuck Grange and established the Sharon Fire Department Ambulance. The service was a welcome addition to the community and the extended community as well, responding to out of town calls when the need arose. Currently the Ambulance answers approximately 300 calls per year with a staff of 50 active Volunteers from every walk of life. From minor incident to major trama the Ambulance can be counted upon to provide quality profesional emergency medical treatment and transportation to an advanced medical care facility.
Realizing that the Department was soon to outgrow her original home, the members organized the influx of skilled labor, youth and determination which was to provide the means to overcome. Ground was broke and construction commenced. From idea to sketch, blueprint to foundation, and brick by brick a structure began to emerge. Though there are few residents and even fewer members that can remember this time in our history, one can imagine the excitement and sense of adventure in such an undertaking. Completed in 1950, with a decided resolve the members had built a two story, three bay, brick building on West Main Street, complete with a commercial kitchen and meeting hall, to serve as the nucleus for the future safety of the Town of Sharon.