- The First Seventy-five Years in the Sanborn Community (1878-1953) -
Sanborn Has a Good Fire Department
Sanborn has a good Volunteer Fire Department which has been so efficient there have been few disastrous fires in recent years. Modern equipment and training has helped a great deal.
Although the first official record in possession of the department are the minutes of the meeting January 4, 1892 when their constitution and bylaws were adopted, and item in the Pioneer April 3, 1885 states: “Sanborn Fire Department. Forty members enrolled. Have first class city uniforms, a fire engine and well equipped for sudden emergencies. Headquarters of the fire department located in basement City Hall, corner Second and O’Brien streets.”
Members of the department in 1890 were given as: W. Walker, Chas. Ayers, Geo. Rising, J.W. Francis, E.A. Mayne, Robt. Heinsen, R.K. Tifft, H. Gibbs, W.H. Van Alstine.
Officers Jan. 4, 1892 were: J.W. Francis, foreman; R.H. Heinsen, first assistant foreman; R.K. Tifft, second assistant; John Quilleash, first pipeman; A.H. Cole, second pipeman; Ed Mayne and C.F. Flint, pipemen; J.H. Wilcox, ladder truck and secretary; Ed Mayne, treasurer; Wm. Bostun and H. Gibbs, linemen.
Their minutes record the fire calls answered; some of the biggest fires were: “February 11, 1914 - 3:30 a.m., started in Pantatorium. Burned five buildings (where now are Chuck’s Grocery, south including Sanborn Savings Bank). Sheldon F.D. came but couldn’t help for lack of water. Weather about 10 below zero.”
“Nov. 23, 1914 - Late afternoon at Earl Conway home (now Carl Kleve home on East Second street). Baby and mother killed.”
“Sept. 6, 1920 - 4:15 a.m. fire in Pitts Meat Market. Destroyed market and H. Dingel Pool Hall” (on site of present pool hall).
“July 24, 1922 - 2:15 a.m. Phoenix Hotel burned.”
“Dec. 8, 1922 - 11 a.m. started in Tripp Grocery; took 3-building block on corner Second and Main. Businesses burned: Tripp Grocery and Tripp residence, Wiltfang Café and Wiltfang residence, Korst Hardware, I.O.O.F. Hall.”
“Sept. 2, 1918 - Milwaukee Road ice house” (at site of Prince Electric & Propane Gas bulk station).
Another ice house was built (where Cornco Inc. now stands) and it burned the morning of July 16, 1952.
“Jan. 16, 1928 - Geo. Andringa Garage destroyed (also known at Telkamp Hall).
“June 27, 1931 - Helped fight fire at Spencer, Iowa for four hours.”
“Feb. 24, 1934 - Helped at fire in Sheldon, Iowa five hours.”
“Feb. 16, 1939 - Norton farmhouse 3 miles north and ˝ mile west of Sanborn.”
“Jan. 28, 1948 - Over Liquor Store”
“Feb. 13, 1949 - Legion Hall.”
A good fire truck carrying hose, ladder and booster pump was purchased in 1928.
In 1940 the Farmers Mutual Insurance Association of O’Brien County purchased trucks for rural fire fighting, equipped with a 450-gal. water tank, hose, spray nozzle and ladders. One of these is housed, cared for and manned by the Sanborn Fire Company. The two trucks are kept on the first floor of the Town Hall which is still at the corner of Second and O’Brien streets.
The men are well trained and use their equipment effectively. They meet once a month, have practices and attend training schools. They are part of a county organization to help each other improve the service.
Present members are: Leo Anderson, chief; John Mulder, Ed Moses, John Jehue, Guy Bollan, Roy Tifft, Louis Smith, Gene Watters, Vernon Bogard, Herman Ver Hoef, Ben Prew and Ed Whalen.
During recent repair and cleaning at the fire house, and electric light bulb was broken and the men told that the bulb was one that had been in use over 30 years and had never been turned off in all that time. It was off during power failures but had never been turned off. It was an old fashioned clear glass carbon filament bulb.
Ernest Zaedow was chief of the fire company for 28 years, from 1924 to 1952, when he retired on account of ill health. At that time he was made an honorary fireman in recognition of his long service. He passed away April 3, 1953. He was given a medal by the O’Brien County Firemen’s Association after his retirement. He had the longest record as fire chief of anyone in the county and is probably an outstanding one for volunteer companies in the state and nation. Under his leadership the local company did some excellent work and progressed in the improvement of their methods and equipment.
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