Firefighters couldn't save this, though they tried.

Harrison County History Photos

Marshall Fire plans 140th anniversary recognition

Harrison County Historical Photos
Harrison County Historical Photos

By Becky Holland,

MARSHALL – Monday afternoon, Marshall Fire Department Assistant Chief Joey Hudson looked at a collection of historical pictures from the Marshall Fire Department’s initial days to the present. He said, “Knowing our history is important … it gives us a sense of identity.”

Assistant Chief Hudson continued, “It is important to know where you have come from, and where you are going.” Hudson was gathering information about the fire department for a small recognition service that is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., June 1 at the Marshall Fire Department Central Station.

The Marshall Fire Department is 140 years of age. According to Hudson, on May

Marshall fire fighters train (Harrison County History Photo)
Marshall fire fighters train (Harrison County History Photo)

24, 1876, the three main fire departments of the city of Marshall – the Stonewall Hook and Ladder #1, the Texas and Pacific Ladder #1 and the Salamander Engine Company #1 incorporated into one department. “On June 1 of the year,” Hudson said, “the articles of corporation were approved by the then Texas Secretary of State.”

On Sept. 5, 1884, a major fire struck the S.A. Irvin Grocery Store, and it spread to the Marshall Car Wheel & Foundry Company, and a nearby home. The fire then then crossed the street to the Veranda Hotel, and three residences, and claimed another store, a boarding house and a residence connected to the hotel.

This fire and another series of fires in the community guided the decision to have one fire department. There was a fourth fire company – which was to be located at Twyman and Main Streets. Water supply for the firefighters, according to Hudson, who found historical records through research at the Harrison County Historical Museum, originally consisted of a series of brick-lined cisterns of 14,000 – 18,000 gallon capacity.

Picture 064Many changes have occurred in the last 140 years. One thing that Marshall Fire Chief Reggie Cooper says has not changed is the attitude of “servitude … you don’t get into this line of work for any other reason,” Cooper said.

Fire service “back then was primary fire service, and later evolved into emergency medical services,” Cooper said.

When asked about what is ahead for fire service and what has changed, Cooper said, “The types of extinguishing agents have changed – where before it was just water, and now there is a soapy substance.”

He sees the use of robotics in the future of fire and emergency services. “There will never be a lack of need for fire service.”

Cooper said the June 1 celebration will be a small affair with a few key leaders.

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