History of the Rippey Fire Department

Submitted by Jean Borgeson, Washington Township Clerk

Excerpts taken from The History Of Rippey, pg. 139-141, 1970

by Jay States


"Early Rippey and community fought fires in pioneer fashion by means of a bucket brigade. Water was carried from town wells or other near by wells. All ages participated, both men and women. The older ones operated the pumps, some carried water, some brought in ladders, and others assisted in various ways. Even water soaked blankets and carpets were placed on roofs to check the sparks from the flames. Seldom was a major fire extinguished.

A later improvement was a small platform mounted on wheels about one foot high on which was a double action pump with two handles to be operated by two men. To his pump was attached a long hose with nozzle. There was room on the platform for a large wash tub, into which the water that was carried by the helpers was poured, and it was then pumped on the fire.

The first headquarters were in a frame building just east of Rippey Savings Bank. Therein was housed the equipment which consisted of a hose cart with about 400 feet of hose and nozzles, lanterns, axes, ladders, rubber coats and helmets.

In a cupola atop the building was a large bell to which was attached a rope with which the bell was rung. The first person arriving at the building gave the alarm by ringing the bell. In earlier times the alarm was given by church bells, or at times by the firing of guns.


After the town water system was installed in 1911, a fire team was organized, consisting of twenty-four men. In the 1912 picture they are identified as: John Shoemaker, Arch Morse, Burley Meyer's, Halsey Crumley, E. A. Shaw, Walter Roberts, John Haberer, Elijah Wade, Wayne Osborn, Lester Johnson, Ira White, James Chambers, John Dugan, Andrew Jensen, Wm. Radebaugh, Claude Johnson, Wm. Chambers, Jay States, I. J. Burk, Sr., Arthur Frizelle, Lester Crumley, Claude States, Walter Dugan and N. P. Burk.


The firemen soon decided to have a building for themselves and promptly began preparation to accomplish this project. In the following year, space for the new building was acquired by purchasing 36 feet from the north part of the First National Bank lot. Plans were to erect a brick building 22 X 36 feet in size with cement floor.


With the exception of the mason who laid the bricks, most of the labor was donated by the firemen and other interested persons. Much credit was due N. P. Burk, who was chief of the fire team, a contractor, and a partner in the local lumber company, for having so gratuitously planned and superintended the construction, then made a generous discount on the cost of materials.


Funds for the overall cost of the building and equipment were derived from benefit oyster suppers served in the hall by the firemen and their wives, also old fashion box suppers, and plays were given. Some donations were grateful received.


The size of the building has twice been expanded to accommodate the larger and more modern equipment.


In 1946, a modern fire truck was purchased by the Rippey Community Fire Truck Association, which was organized by the farmers living in the Rippey community. Shares were sold for $25.00 each, to provide funds to pay the cost of the truck and equipment. Service was to be furnished to all shareholders, without further cost, but non-shareholders were to be charged a fee of $50.00 for a call to a fire. An agreement was made with the ton whereby the latter would man and store the truck, also furnish needed repair and equipment in exchange for its use for fires in the town. (note: This was signed in 1963 according the township records)


In 1963, a state law was passed, under which townships could be organized as a fire district, with funds, provided through taxed levied on property in the township. The district could include adjacent territory in adjoining townships. (note: Found in the township records--the township voted for this on June 6, 1960. Signing the notice of special election was Robert Heater, Chairman of the trustees, with Hugo Norgren, clerk. It was notarized by Walter K. Anderson on May 19, 1960)


The following year the trustees of Washington Township availed themselves with the provisions of the law and purchased a new heavy duty fire truck of the most modern design and latest equipment. the agreement between the township trustees and the town was very similar to the one previously made, except that the trustees agreed to pay operating expenses, repair, replacements, and purchase of new equipment. The former truck was donated to the town and is being retained to be used as an auxiliary in emergencies.


( From the township minutes, August 17, 1964)

The Washington Township Trustees met at a special called meeting on the above date at the Rippey Savings Bank with the following present: Darwin Grow, Raymond Kenney, Merle Coon, H. A. Norgren.

Meeting was called to order by Darwin Grow at 8:00 P.M.

Chairman Grow stated that the purpose of the meeting was to complete arrangements for payment of the new fire fighting equipment purchased by the township.

Motion made by Merle Coon, and seconded by Raymond Kenney, that Clark(Bardole, probably) be authorized to pay Ed Feld Equipment Company $2540.00 and Toyne’s Iowa Fire Truck Service $4010.00 in payment of the fire fighting equipment purchased. Hugo Norgren, Clerk.)

*I find it amazing that Bob Heater, Hugo Norgren and Raymond Kenny are still with us in 2006!


Soon after electricity came to Rippey an electric siren was installed on the roof of the Crumley and States store, which served as an alarm for fires, both town and country, and was also used for time signals during the day. To the operators of the telephone office was given the responsibility of manipulating the siren by means of a switch located in the office. After many years of useful service, resulting in inevitable wear, and also due to the closing of the Rippey Telephone office, the use of this siren was discontinued and was replaced by a more modern siren installed on the fire hall.

Rippey still maintains a fire team of 25 civic minded members, all of whom are ready and willing to give of their time to assist a neighbor in time of need, to save his property from destruction by fire. They most assuredly deserve the thanks of the entire community."

---submitted by Jay States, 1970

Other Township Trustees serving through the years have been, Eugene Gannon, Joe Taylor. LaVere Derry, Dar Johnston, and Alan Borgeson. Other clerks have been, Walt Anderson, Beverly Derry, Sharon Ulrich, and present Clerk, Jean Borgeson. Their duties include levying a tax to care for the three cemeteries in the township and that information is elsewhere.
One fire truck and equipment was bought in April, 1994 at a cost of $72,000.
Our last fire truck , fully equipped, was bought in 2008 for $78,800.
The current trustees are Rick Brown, Chairman, Roger Norgren and Mary Ann Hick. Jean Borgeson is still Clerk.