Carrying the torch

Dunmore Hose Co. celebrates 125 years


BRANDON — The Brandon Fire Department reached a milestone over the weekend — an open house for its 125th anniversary.

Although it was not the first fire department in Brandon, the Dunmore Hose Company is the longest lasting and the current firefighting force for the town.

The Neshobe Engine Co, the Spaulding Hose Co, and the J. J. Simmonds Hose Company were a few of the departments that had come and gone by the time Dunmore Hose was formed in 1894.

Brandon was one of the first towns in Vermont to have a fire company and one of 11 towns to have established waterworks by 1882. In 1888, the town voted to build a hose house to complement their new gravity fed water system.

According to the Dunmore Hose Co.’s website, in the mid-1800s, towns were moving away from the traditional citizen’s bucket brigades and towards fire societies, but back then those societies required members to pay dues, furnish buckets and ladders, and members would only put out fires in homes and businesses of other members.

In Brandon, the whole village was assumed to be members of the society. Members would still have to pay dues and furnish buckets, but it was an attempt to establish a fire company that covered the entire village and beyond the citizens bucket brigade.

In 1895, the company briefly disbanded before being reformed and given access to the hose house, located next to the Town Hall. In 1897, the word ‘volunteer’ was removed from the sign on the hose house because the members were now paid per call and the company could regularly be seen drilling and practicing around town.

Since then, the company has continued to provide fire safety and prevention education for the communities of Brandon, Leicester and Goshen. There are currently 30 members of the company, led by Chief Roman Wdowiak.

“All of our people are classified as Firefighter I,” Wdowiak said. “They have to do a lot of training to maintain that classification.”

That training can be intense, including hours spent at fire schools in Rutland or Addison County to keep up with new training and techniques.

“We have to do 2800 hours of training a year (for the department),” deputy chief Scott Trask said. “That’s two to three nights of training a month, in addition to the various fire schools.”

Though the department started with a cart to push the hose through town in the late 1800s, on Saturday they proudly had their fire trucks on display. Including the six-wheeled Ranger all-terrain vehicle that they use for getting into the backcountry for brush fires and hiking injuries, they have seven fire fighting vehicles.

Those vehicles are used frequently.

“We average 150 to 160 calls a year,” Wdowiak said. “Last month we got called out about 19 times, but it can vary by month.”

Luckily, they weren’t called out during the anniversary celebration last week, though if the need arose, they would have been ready to answer the bell, as usual.

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