Center Fire Department History

From History of Shelby County Volume I 1988.  Shelby County Historical Society

The Center Volunteer Fire Department was organized by A.C. Cooper in 1908.  At the time, the department was equipped with small hand chemical fire extinguishers.  A hand pushed cart with a hose was the means of transporting water to the fires.  The source of the water was a public well on the courthouse square.

The City’s first fire truck, nicknamed “Old Hulldie”, was an International hose truck, purchased in the late 1920’s.   A Sea Graves fire truck was the City’s second bought fire truck, purchased in 1935.  At this time, the City hired its first paid fire fighter, O’Neil Sanders. 

40 Old Center Fire StationThe City’s fire station was a bay at Parker Motor Company.  Sometime in the 1930’s, the City built its first fire station, a building on the courthouse square.

In 1995, the City built a new fire station on Logansport Street and has strived to maintain the fleet of fire trucks.

The City’s most recent fire truck purchased arrived in 2011.

Case of the Missing Fire Bell

In the days before pagers and cell phones, the ringing of a large bell would call the fire fighters to the station to respond to an emergency.  The Center bell was placed on the courthouse square once the fire department switched to a larger siren.  Soon after placement on the square, the bell disappeared.  In 1932, on a summer day, Ford Walker saw an unusual shaped flower pot in someone’s yard.  After examination he found the flower pot to be the missing bell.  The bell was returned to its place on the square.

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