~ Chapter Eight ~

The Firehouse

One of the first things the founders of Ivy did after providing shelter for themselves was to erect buildings that provided for the well-being of the community at large.

One was the Olde Ivy School; another was the first firehouse. While the former was built of brick, the latter was, rather strangely, of all-wood construction.

Most fire stations were built to give the impression, at least, that they were impervious to the ravages of flame. At any rate, that’s how it was. The old building housed a hand-pumper that volunteers had to push and pull to the site of a fire. It was very old, even then.

One otherwise beautiful fall day, the unthinkable happened: a spark from burning leaves fell on the wood-shingled roof and the building began to burn with a vengeance, from top to bottom. It burned with such intensity that the firefighters couldn’t even get the old pumper out. The entire town watched helplessly as their former firehouse was reduced to a pile of smoldering rubble.

This wasn’t the kind of thing that could wait for the next scheduled town meeting, so one was held on the spot and the decision was made to begin anew as soon as the ashes cooled.

Overnight, telegraphs were sent to towns near and far, seeking a horse-drawn steam engine and information on designs for a modern firehouse.

It is worth pausing to note that things were different then. A disaster such as Ivy suffered was feared by other communities, and they all felt an obligation to help in any way they could.  Surrounding towns offered to send in crews to help with construction. Several sent plans of their own firehouses to provide ideas. Through the grapevine, the company that made the best fire engines heard of Ivy’s  plight and put their shiny new demonstration model on the next train, without so much as a handshake on the purchase. That’s just the way it was back then.

From the standpoint of design, the consensus was that the new structure should be built Ivy-style – that is, of brick from native clay that would give it the rosy hue common to other buildings in town. It would be a two-story affair, the space above the engine garage used for a dormitory to house firemen who would be on call “round the clock.” There would be a bell tower as well, so that the whole town could be alerted to the danger of a fire.

Once the plans were finalized and construction begun, it went on day and night, often by torchlight and lantern, local and neighboring volunteers worked in shifts. At some point it became a race against the clock to see if they could finish within the week. Miraculously, they did.

With the paint on the trim and doors still wet, dedication ceremonies commenced at noon on Sunday, heralded by the tolling of the new cast iron bell in the tower, hung and rung at midnight the night before… as it has every Saturday night since, reminding old-timers and newcomers alike of the “One Week Wonder” that is now the firehouse in Ivy.

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5-pc Set Includes:
The Ivy Firehouse 05270, Captain Blaze 05271, Junior Fire Captain 05272, Sparky’s House 05273, and Pumper No. 2  05274.


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The Old Toy Shop – Chapter Nine…

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