Service for Others Since 1808
- The town held its first election, and elected five commissioners to govern the new municipality
April 11, 1791
- A resolution was passed by the new commissioners to have four pumps (wells) erected in the most populous parts of town. Also a sufficient number of ladders were to be provided as an additional security. The four pumps would also serve as wells for towns people who did not have their own wells.
July 11, 1791
- A lottery was started to raise $605.00 for the purchase of a fire engine, pumps, ladders, etc. for use of the Town of Easton, and also to complete the public wharf (Easton Point) and the causewaying. It consisted of 1000 tickets sold for $2.00 each. On September 13, 1791 a notice appeared in the Herald stating that the drawing would commence on Wednesday the 28th. This was the last public notice concerning the lottery. There is a suggestion that not enough tickets were sold to cover the prizes and the total revenue.
March 13, 1798
- John Lorain Jr. wrote a letter to the citizens of Easton, which was published in the Herald. In this letter he tried to express his concern for the lack of protection from fire in the Town of Easton. He mentioned that he was a member of a fire company in Philadelphia before moving here, and had seen the devastation caused by fire. He moved that citizens come together to form a fire company in the Town of Easton. He laid out a very elaborate proposal which included raising money by subscription, to buy an engine and 100 leather buckets. Nothing was ever done about this proposal.
December 13, 1803
- A bill was passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor allowing the Town of Easton to hold a lottery to purchase a fire engine and erect pumps. Again nothing was ever done.
February 28, 1808
- About 3 a.m. on this Sunday morning the cry of "Fire!!" was heard. The tailor shop on Washington Street north of Federal Street had flames showing out the building. As more citizens arrived, the fire began spreading to other buildings. As the fire spread it consumed a tavern, saddlery shop, and the store and home of Mrs. Mary Trippe. All occupants did escape unharmed. The fire was slow to be extinguished because citizens failed to bring their buckets with them and had to go home to retrieve them. After intensely fighting the fire ,they were able to save a new building that was under construction, Also saved was The Star office, which served as the town post office and printing plant.
March 1, 1808
- Town of Easton businessmen assembled and declared Easton must have a fire engine. Under the leadership of merchant Owen Kennard, a subscription paper was drawn up and circulated throughout the business community to raise funds to buy a fire engine. Within a day or so the sum of $1005.00 had been raised.
April 20, 1808-The birth of the Easton VFD
- A town meeting was called for the purpose of forming the town's first fire company. The meeting was held in the court house and was attended by most of the male population in town. Owen Kennard was presiding over the meeting. John Bennett was acting as clerk. Both who were elected as the first officers of the department. Kennard as treasurer and Bennett as clerk (secretary) of the company. The rest of the roster has since been lost. However the original Plans and Rules did survive and were instituted on that day. One of the rules set forth described the makeup of the company. It was to include a President (who also served as the Fire Chief), Treasurer, Clerk (Secretary), Engineer, 2 Assistant Engineers, 8 Directors (Trustees), 4 Engine Guards, 4 Lane Men, 4 Property Men, 4 Property Guards, 4 Ladder Men, 2 Axe Men, 2 Hook Men, and 2 Bucket Men. So a company of 40 men was established, and the rules stated all men except the clerk and treasurer were to participate actively in firefighting.
March 13, 1813
- At 1:30 a.m. at the home of Mrs. Sewell, a fire broke out in the kitchen. It was located on Court Street (now West Dover Street). Next to her residence was a new Inn and tavern owned by Thomas Henrix. Flames quickly spread from her house to the inn and then spread south along the west side of Washington Street. The fire company was on scene quickly but the fire had already spread. The members of the fire company acted fast and placed the lone hand pumper in service. The hand pumper along with the bucket brigade tried to subdue the fire. Even with the attempts of the fire company, the fire consumed buildings on both the west and east side of Washington Streets and down the south side of Dover Street. Two buildings on the north side of Dover Street were destroyed but the others were saved. The only way of stopping this devastating fire was to create fire breaks. This was usually done by dynamiting buildings, but since they lacked explosives, the firemen started demolishing houses. By dawn the fire was under control and the town was saved. In all 43 buildings were destroyed.
- The need for a more up to date way of summoning firemen was instituted when a public subscription was held to purchase a new fire bell. This bell was bought and hung in the Court House. John Fleming, a ship's carpenter, was named the town's first bellman. Whenever someone spotted fire they would run to Fleming's house and he would go across the street and toll the bell to summon the fire company. The bell was also used to remind citizens to attend their respective churches on Sunday mornings. When the Court House obtained a town clock in the 19th century, the bell was then moved to the firehouse on Harrison Street.
December 26, 1825
- Another fire broke out on Court Street, the same location as the 1813 fire. It broke out in the bake shop of Conrad Shott, possibly from an overheated oven. The family was asleep on the second floor, but was aroused, and escaped the building unharmed. The fire spread to two adjoining buildings before being extinguished.
January 27, 1829
- A subscription was circulated to purchase a second fire engine. The total amount raised was $305.00. This was the going price of a hand pump engine at that time. Subscriptions were collected and engine picked out, but it did not arrive until 1830.
April 1, 1831
- A meeting was held led by Robert Kennard. Objects of the meeting were read by Philip Francis Thomas (later to be Governor of Maryland). Afterwards several resolutions were written and adopted establishing a second fire company in Easton. This company was called the Mechanical Fire Company. This company would operate the second hand pump engine the town just bought. Afterwards the original Easton Fire Company changed its name to Citizen's Fire Company.
- The Mechanical Fire Company, due to a shortage in manpower, took an unprecedented step at the time of adopting a resolution to allow African Americans in the fire company.
March 25, 1855
- There was a three story brick building on the corner of Washington and Court Streets. This building was originally designed as a hotel and inn but was never completed until the Millers Lodge No. 18 Order of Odd Fellows obtained it. They fixed up the third floor as a meeting room and rented out the lower floors to various business tenants. The second floor was rented to John Mason, a cabinet maker. The night was unusually cold and windy, and around 7:30 am a fire was discovered in John Mason's shop caused by an overheated wood stove. Both of Easton's fire companies responded to the scene. The fire had smoldered for hours before being discovered by the passerby. As the companies arrived on scene the fire was quickly spreading to adjacent buildings. Fanned by the wind, the fire continued to spread to the building which housed the recently moved Star newspaper and printing plant, T. W. L. Chambers printer, and painter A. W. Fountain. It then spread to the home of John Mason. Flying embers quickly ignited buildings across the street consuming several homes, the Post Office, and a tailor shop. The embers soon spread to several stables and outbuildings. After about 3 hours of fighting the fires it was placed under control. Buildings from Washington Street to Hanson street had been affected including seven brick buildings, and five frame buildings, which were totally destroyed. A score of outbuildings and stables were also destroyed. and about a dozen other buildings damaged. The total loss was estimated at $25,000.
September 2, 1858
- A fire was discovered in a stable near the Union Hotel on the north side of Goldsborough Street near Washington Street. Flames quickly spread through the stables connected with the hotel and then to the home of Dr. Samuel Harper. Several other dwellings were ignited but were quickly saved. Apparently both the engines from the fire companies had become in disarray and most of the buildings were saved by bucket brigades. Both engines were not kept in buildings to protect them from the elements and decay of time, and were poorly maintained due to lack of fire activity.
September 22, 1858
- A citizen's meeting was called to make arrangements for better fire protection for the town. A group of citizen's blamed the Town Commissioners for negligence in supporting the fire company. A committee was appointed and headed up by Dr. Christopher Cox to meet with the Town Commissioners and to arrange for another, larger town meeting.
October 1, 1858
- The larger meeting of citizens was held. Dr Cox reported that the estimate cost of an efficient fire company was about $2,000. The County Commissioners had agreed to pay $300 towards the total for protection of the Court House and other county buildings. The Town Commissioners were finally willing to pay the remaining amount. The Easton Bank was also willing to lend some money on a three year note. The committee recommended with this money to purchase a new engine, repair the better of the two current engines, buy 600 ft. of new hose, construct a new engine house, repair all the old public pumps, and replace new ones where necessary. A special committee to look into the repair of the old engines and purchasing a new engine was appointed to look into what was needed, and then report back.
October 19, 1858
- The new committee reported back to the Town Commissioners. There were six recommendations made by this committee. They disagreed that a new engine was needed. They determined that both of the old engines could be repaired and made in working order for about $175. They also stated the repair of the old pumps would cost about $100 and recommended sinking 5 new larger pumps for $250. They said to purchase 500' of hose for about $375. Finally they agreed a firehouse was needed and recommended the old Market House be taken down and rebuilt in conjunction with a new engine house. In conjunction with that they also recommended the Coats Lodge No. 102 of the Masonic Order be allowed to build a hall and lodge room over top the Market House and engine house thus splitting part of the cost of the building. This would cost about $600. They also recommended that every house holder be provided with two buckets "to be kept expressly for use at fires, and to be taken at every alarm of fire on leaving the house". The last recommendation was the purchase of ladders and hooks at a cost of $50. Since the winter months were coming nothing was done with taking down the old Market House and construction of a new one with engine house. The old engines and the town pumps were repaired to working order.
December 22, 1858
- A reorganization of the fire companies was called for and a new constitution and bylaws were drawn up. This new organization was to be called the Easton Fire Department. Such specified things called for the new department to consist of an engine, hook and ladder, and bucket companies. Engines and management should be under their respective companies. One new and important change was the provision that called for the establishment of a "Engineer in Chief" or what we all know today as a fire chief. He would have control over all fire fighting activities at the time of a blaze. Two assistant engineers were also provided. This was new since both companies up until now basically operated on their own and independently at fire scenes. This proposal for unified command at fires was a step towards the future. The first Chief elected was Col. Richard Thomas. He was a commander of the Fourth Regiment of militia and was later to become brigadier general in the Maryland military. The two assistant chiefs were M. M. Dawson and I. C. W. Powell who later would become State's Attorney of Talbot County.
- During the Civil War the Town Commissioners established a night patrol to help prevent small fires from getting out of control or to prevent them from being started. Military authorities helped out by supporting the night patrols in town, which was occupied by Federal troops.
- After the war was over the Town Commissioners finally got around to tearing the old Market House down and building a new one on the same site. However this did not include the recommended engine house and Mason's lodge. It did include a new town hall meeting area on the second floor.
- The Secretary of State convinced the Governor to allow the Easton Town Commissioners to use the old armory which was directly behind the Court House facing West Street. This was a octagonal building rehabilitated by the town to be used for the purpose of serving as the first official firehouse of the Easton Fire Department.
- The Town Commissioners decided to purchase a hook and ladder equipped with four gardner fire-extinguishers, 24 leather buckets, and several ladders. The truck's cost was $500.00.
June 24, 1875
- A town meeting was called to reorganize the fire companies due to the current members starting to increase in age and lack of participation. At this meeting new members were instituted and all new officers elected. J. Frank Turner was elected President. He would later serve as Comptroller of the State of Maryland for two terms. The Vice-President was Thomas Robson. The Secretary was Peter Stevens and Martin M. Higgins, the first Mayor of Easton, was treasurer.
October 1, 1878
- In the early morning hours a fire broke out in a grocery store owned by G. Lacy Eaton on Court Street. This area was also known as Market Space. The fire quickly spread to several other buildings, stables, and homes. Soon the fire spread to the newly built Market House and Town Hall which would be mostly destroyed. Also lost in the fire was the Odd Fellows temple, a stove store, bakery, shoe shop, a second grocery store, carriage factory, and a resturant owned by James Morgan. Several other buildings were damaged or threatened by the fire but were saved. This fire was then known as the Market House Fire.
- The Town Commissioners buy the "Little Giant". The was the towns first steam engine. They bought the engine and 300 ft. of new hose for a cost of $1500.00. This brought the departments inventory up to one hook and ladder, two hand pumpers, and one steam engine. This unit was drawn by the members of the fire department, not horses.
- Once again a town meeting was called to reorganize the fire department. Again new officers were elected. President was T. K. Robson and Chief was Edward Roberts. Also at this meeting the new department members adopted a uniform. These comprised of blue shirts trimmed with white, worn with the members' own dark trousers.
September 8, 1879
- The newly reorganized fire department held its first fireman's parade through the streets of Easton. It was held in late afternoon so everyone could come and watch.
- The town commissioners purchased two hose reels to transport hose to fire scenes. Up until this time all the hose had been transported by the members of the fire department, sometimes up to a half mile or more. One would be used for the hose of the steamer and the other for the hose of the two hand pumpers.