Historical Essay 66

Posted on 30 December 2010 by LeslieM

Volunteer Fire Department

Sounded sirens to bring in the New Year

Growing up in Deerfield, there were a few events which happened for so long that it was thought of as a tradition. One of them was the annual celebration of the New Year coming in by having the fire department sirens sound off exactly at midnight on Dec. 31 and continuing for a few minutes into the new year on Jan. 1.

As a child, I was normally in bed when it occurred and I remember being gripped each time by a feeling of nostalgia, realizing I would never experience that particular year again.

The siren otherwise was used to notify citizen volunteers that they were needed to fight a fire. They would rush in from all over town, jump on the fire truck(s) and proceed to the fire to put it out.

Eventually the city went from volunteers to full-time firemen and a very tall main siren was located on Fire Department property at 928 E. Hillsboro Ave. The tradition of midnight sirens went on for decades, but ended for some reason in 1976.

Deerfield police Chief “Pappy” Brown, with officers Roy Bennent and Lloyd Newman standing guard in the mid 1950s in front of Deerfield’s two fire trucks. Fire volunteers include “Chief” Merle Johnson (sixth from the end) flanked by Mr. Blackwelder, to his right, and Bob Butler, to his left. Leaning on the other truck is Milton Vincent.

David Eller, Publisher

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