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Firefighters at Firemen's Hall, East Huron Street, 1906

Firefighters at Firemen's Hall, East Huron Street, 1906 image

Fred Sipley (right of the horses) was the police marshal before he became the first full-time fire chief in 1889. His successor as chief, Charles Edwards, stands left of the horses in this 1906 photograph. Fires from oil lamps and wood-burning stoves were a constant worry in early Ann Arbor. At the cry of "Fire!" everyone came running with family water pails. By 1838 the village had two volunteer fire companies, two small engine houses, and a hand-operated fire pump.

More companies formed, with names like Eagle, Defiance, Mayflower, and Relief. Volunteers trained, cleaned equipment, and organized social activities at their engine houses. Fiercely proud of their uniforms and equipment, they delighted in parading through town. When Firemen's Hall was built in 1882, it had a large meeting room upstairs. With the gradual change to a full-time paid department, the room was converted to a dormitory.

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