Fire Department

By dhowell - Posted on 28 December 2007

This community can be justly proud of its firefighting equipment. The newest is the $19,881 fire engine that was purchased last year. The chassis was bought from the local Ford dealer and sent to the John Bean Co. in Lansing. There, the equipment was installed. The bill for the chassis was $5,958.

It was in 1947 that the late Charles Waltz, then Manchester Township Supervisor, suggested that the township take over the financing of the fire department. Prior to that time the volunteer department was operated on a makeshift basis with money from subscription to farmers in the outlaying districts.

If a farmer "belonged" to the tune of $50 a year, his property would be included and if he needed the department they would answer the call. Otherwise there was some special assessment connected with out of town calls. But the system did not work very well.

At that time the department had only the old hose truck. In 1950 Clayton Parr was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Mr. Waltz.

Since then the township board has been active in affairs of its fire department. Mr. Parr, Treasurer M. H. Wolfe and Clerk Waldo Marx are proud that they were able to appropriate the necessary funds without voting special millage.

Firefighters today strike a pose with an ancient fire truck which they purchased. They drove the truck in all the parades during the Centennial.

This is quite a change from the old bucket brigade or the first chemical wagon bought in 1924. The second piece of equipment was a tanker to carry water. Then the township voted 1 mill for the purchase of the first piece of equipment.

In the old days there was an organization known as the "Hook and Ladder Club". But those volunteers had very little equipment to fight a fire with.

In 1954 the township bought a tanker and utility truck for the 22 volunteers. According to Parr, the area can enjoy the best possible rate of fire insurance available for a volunteer department. This is reflected in the insurance rates to every property holder.

Last year six of the volunteers went to Lansing to learn to operate the apparatus. They were Chief Kensler, Lyle Widmayer, Ora Walcutt Jr., Lauren Bertke, Ted Stautz and Gale Koebbe.

Chief Kensler says that with the new 8-cylinder powered truck with its two pumps and high pressure, Manchester area can be assured that they are well protected. Only three trucks leave on any call and they carry 2,000 gallons of water. One truck always remains in the fire hall as reserve.