|Rutland Town Fire Department
Serving Rutland Town, Vermont since 1968.
Rutland Town Fire Department History
The Rutland Town Fire Department (RTFD) was organized in 1967. Prior to this time Rutland City Fire Department provided fire protection for Rutland Town. The cost of this service was on an annual basis, determined by the City of Rutland.
The costs of this fire protection were continuing to rise, and those costs were passed on to Rutland Town. It was this continued rise in costs that prompted the Town Select Board to try to form a fire department within the Town.
Notices were posted and a special vote was scheduled. The ballot count showed that the townspeople were highly in favor of a Town fire department.
The Select Board called for a meeting of all men interested in becoming a firefighter. At that time sixty men volunteered and agreed to take the Firefighters' Association and First Aide courses given by the Red Cross in order to operate as firefighters. All of these men spent countless hours training two nights a week and every weekend in order to be certified as firefighters.
Mr. John Morse was appointed as our first chief shortly after the decision was made to begin the RTFD. Chief Morse and the Select Board chose two sites for fire stations. Land was purchased on McKinley Avenue from Mary Baird for Station One. Immediate construction of Station One began and was completed quickly by John Russell Corporation.
A short time later, land was purchased off Route 4 in Center Rutland from Mr. Robert Smith for Station Two. Taggart Brothers built this station, and it too was completed quickly.
In addition to training, the men of RTFD spent countless hours preparing each station for use. Wiring and plumbing was finished and a base station was purchased and installed. Among other tasks, who would dispatch the department still needed to be addressed.
The first alarm (dispatch) system used by the department was a specially installed "red phone". The phone number of 773-2565 was assigned to RTFD and is still used today. The number rang into Dolans Answering Service located in Rutland City. RTFD was assigned the call letters of K.L.U. 419 for dispatch purposes.
Dispatch for the department in the early days consisted of the phone ringing into Dolans for a call. Dolans would then call the chief of the department and several other specified members' homes by phone. The wives of the members would then call other members assigned to lists they had. This system was in place for a number of years, until the advent of the paging system similar to what we now have in place. Today we are dispatched to calls through pagers.
Over the years the dispatching service was sold to Flints Answering Service, which provided that service for a long period of time. Present day we are dispatched out of the State Police barracks on McKinley Avenue just down the road from Station One. This barracks dispatches for most of the fire and EMS agencies in Rutland County.
Once dispatching service, the stations, and equipment were in place and training completed, the Rutland Town Fire Department went into operation protecting the citizens of our Town. We have been in service since 1968.
In early 1969, RTFD joined the Rutland County Mutual Aid Association. This association consists of area fire departments agreeing to assist each other, free of charge, when the need arises. This allows the fire departments in the county to help each other when one has an emergency that cannot be handled by that town's department alone. This teamwork is a true example of helping one another in times of need. Over the years RTFD has assisted other town with many calls for help. Those towns have also assisted us when we needed them.
The men of RTFD got their fist taste of fire on April 16, 1968. A fire started in a large barn owned by Orin Thomas on Route 7 in Rutland Town. RTFD was on the scene for over six hours. However, this was not the first "official fire" as the RTFD was not fully operational at the time.
The first official fire came eleven days later on April 27, 1968. It was a small shed off Post Road Extension. The fire was put out and the boys went home, a good outing for the RTFD. The next fire was a different story. It was of major proportions, and of suspicious origin. Two large buildings at Killington Wood Products were lost. RTFD, with assistance of the Rutland City Fire Department, were on the scene for over six hours. It would be the first of several suspicious fires that plagued RTFD in our first year of operation.
We were dispatched to our first mutual aid call on January 16, 1969. It was a large barn located on Middle Road in Clarendon owned by Robert Ruane. This was also a large fire.
To date, the most massive and tragic fire RTFD has been involved in started on January 7,1973. It was to be known as one of the largest fires in the history of Rutland County. The fire at the Berwick Hotel, or as some has come to know it, the Town House Fire, resulted in five residents perishing in the blaze.
Throughout the years RTFD has responded to all types of calls for assistance. Calls range from fires, HAZMAT, to more recent carbon monoxide calls and even the rescue of a pet lizard from a tree. Each time RTFD has answered the call for assistance from citizens of our town.
Each year the State of Vermont holds a firefighter's convention at various locations throughout the state. At this convention a Firefighter of the Year is chosen from applicants submitted from departments throughout the state. To be chosen for this award, members of a department submit a firefighter's name to the committee. From those names submitted one firefighter is chosen. Members of RTFD have been honored six times since 1968 with State of Vermont Firefighter of the Year. The following members have been so honored:
1973 Cleto DelBianco
The citizens of Rutland Town can be proud of these men. It is these men that represent Rutland Town. The pride that RTFD gains from the accomplishments of these firefighters is not something easily explained in words. Sadly not all of these firefighters are still with us. Yet they are remembered each time we step into our stations.
There are still three charter members of RTFD that are on our active roster. These members have been with RTFD since the beginning. These men have passed on their experience and knowledge to the newer members of RTFD. The following are charter members on our active roster:
Our call volume has steadily increased over the years. From the thirty-seven (37) calls (runs) we responded to in 1968 to the highest total of two hundred and seven (207) calls in 2000, to the one hundred eighty three (183) in 2002.
Along with this brief story on RTFD, scrapbooks are maintained that contain most of the calls that RTFD has responded to that were printed in various newspapers in the state. Raymond McCarthy has maintained these scrapbooks since the beginning of the Rutland Town Fire Department.
We the members of RTFD wish to thank the citizens of Rutland Town. Without whom the success of the department would not be possible.
|©2012 Rutland Town Fire Department, Rutland Town, Vermont|