History of the City of Lebanon Fire Department
In 1908 the question was ask…”How long would it take Lebanon to burn up?” And those who ask that question had reason. Not only had the public square burned once or more, but fires in the residential sections had taken its toll on important, historical homes.
One of the worst destroyers of Lebanon has been fires, not only in monetary value…but in lives. As the town grew and progressed, so have the laws and the methods of fire fighting and prevention been changed and made, to the advantage of the property-owners.
The first act of the city council regarding fires was on April 10, 1823 when they passed the ordinance prohibiting use of wooden chimneys. Sounds strange, but when one remembers the construction of the homes--- log cabins and fireplaces, it’s not so strange.
Fires prevailed. With the increase of fires, on March 1, 1830, the council appointed Michael Yerger, Elmore Douglas and E. A. White, a committee to draft plans for organizing a fire company. At the meeting July 5, 1830 Mayor John Muirhead was appointed to aid in drawing up rules for the fire company. Thus in 1830 the Lebanon Fire Department was born… not as we know it today, Some 178 years later.
The minutes on October 25, 1842 reads as…”On motion of councilman, Mr. B. R. Owens it was ordered that a committee of two be appointed to contract for 2 ladders, long enough to reach the top of the tallest house in Lebanon and also to contract for making 2 fire hooks.” The committee appointed was Thompson Anderson and L. F. Littrell.
In 1876 a new step… purchases of fire extinguishers. With a group of volunteers, this called for leadership. On January 7, 1879, the Fire Extinguisher committee of T. A. Murphy as chairman, W. H. Orr and A. R. Fonville were appointed. This was a big step in advancement in 1878. C. F. Simmons was appointed Chairman of the newly organized Fire Company. Yet, he had no one to help him… just volunteers.
Then one month later Samuel Golladay Stratton requested propositions and suggestions in regard to increasing efficiency. Thus on November 5, 1879, Mayor E. E. Beard called attention to the bad hose in use and recommended employment of someone as Chief to keep hose and fire extinguishers in good working order.
On March 23, 1880, the Mayor suggested the immediate organization of the Fire Extinguishers Department to act and aid in putting out fires. A new committee was appointed, M. T. Bennett Chairman, P. Y. Hill and A. B. Fonville. It might be proper to explain the extinguisher was a large one which required more than one to operate it.