The Beginning (1830-1900)

Bucket Brigades
Lafayette was founded back in 1825. The fire protection was provided by volunteer fire companies and consisted of bucket brigades that were organized on a whim. Citizens were asked to keep a bucket and a ladder on their front porch in case there was a fire that happened while they were not home.

Wabash Fire Company
On December 30, 1839, the first volunteer fire company was formed in Lafayette and it was called Wabash Fire Company. The 1st engine house was believed to be on the Court House Square. This company would eventually become the Columbia Street engine house when the department became paid.

Good Intent Fire Company Number 2
The 2nd company formed was the Good Intent Fire Company Number 2. A report from the city back in 1847 shows the purchase of Station 2, which is probably where the company was housed. This company would change its name to the Quickstep fire company sometime in the early 1860s.

Independent Fire Company Number 3
Around 1850 there was another company called the Independent Fire Company Number 3 (Canal Road Area) which would eventually change its name to Lively's or the Lively Fire Company. Lively's was organized in 1866.

Kossuth Fire Company<br> The 4th company formed was the Kossuth Fire Company. It was founded around 1854 and used the old school corporation building for an engine house. It also provided fire protection for the 6th ward. They were housed somewhere around 16th and Purdue streets. On January 4, 1884 the City of Lafayette took over the fire protection for this area of the city. This company is what evolved into the modern Fire Station 3.

Friendship Fire Company Number 4<br> In December of 1859 the Friendship Fire Company Number 4 was formed and was probably located on Main Street just north of the Oakland Park Area. Also, sometime around 1843 the Hook & Ladder Company was formed and was located on South Street near 2nd Street.

Fire Wardens
The very 1st attempt at unified fire protection occurred on June 5, 1845. An ordinance was passed appointing Fire Wardens for the Town of Lafayette. Those men were John McCormick, Wilburn Reynolds, Thomas Rogers and William Heath. They were required "to be present at fires that may occur in the said town, and preserve order among the citizens."

Fire Chief Engineer
On May 11, 1853 the Committee on Fire Department recommended to the council that a Chief Engineer be appointed. There was also a petition signed by 45 people to organize a fire company under the City Charter. Both items were approved and Thomas H. Clark was appointed the fire Chief Engineer of the Lafayette Fire Department. The 2 companies that merged into the city were the Hook & Ladder Company #1 and the Good Intent Company #2.

Paid Firefighters
The steam engine arrived in Lafayette in April of 1864. This was around the same time that the City of Lafayette began paying its firefighters. And this is also when the command structure of the department started to be more of a modern unified command. By the late 1870s the paid Fire Department consisted of:
  • 1 Chief Engineer
  • 1 Assistant Chief Engineer
  • 1 Engineer of the Steamer
  • 1 Driver
  • 5 Regular Hosemen
  • 6 Minute Men
There were also 41 members of the volunteer companies. By the 1890s the volunteer departments had been absorbed into the city and the department became fully paid.