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The City of Moultrie proudly boasts one of the finest fire departments of any city its size. But there was a time when there was no fire department at all. The first volunteer fire department was formed on April 7, 1894, at a mass meeting of businessmen who had “grown tired of standing by and watching property go up in smoke.” Before that time the only firefighting of consequence was done by neighbors, summoned to the scene by a series of pistol shots or the bright light of the blaze. Twenty-five local citizens volunteered for fire duty that night in 1894. M.M. Blanton, who had earlier served as Moultrie’s first mayor was elected Chief.
The volunteer unit had no equipment but did manage to save some property in the next few months. In October 1894 a fire bell was obtained and placed on a pole in the Courthouse Square. The firemen were summoned by the bell, but often the pistol shots sounded the alarm before the bell rang. Serving without pay except for an occasional dollar or two from the city council for special services, the group managed to keep together for the next four years. The council in 1896 established a fire zone around the square and prohibited the erection of wooden buildings unless specifically approved by the council. That same year an artesian well was dug and a few water mains were available to firefighters. By 1896 that little group of volunteers had practically disbanded and a new set up was formed with Park Harper as chief. M.J. Pearsall was elected second chief and C.B. Allen, secretary/treasurer. Two companies were created, one known as the “hook and ladder” and the other as the “hose” company. Still, the only equipment was buckets and homemade ladders. In the latter part of 1898 water mains were being laid around the square and council approved the purchase of a small reel wagon and other equipment.
During the next few years, the effectiveness of the volunteer unit increased considerably with the addition of more hose, a second artesian well, and electric lift pump at the power plant and more mains. During a five-year period, the personnel of the units changed rapidly due to the criticism of the sidewalk firemen who stood around while the firemen fought the fires. In 1909 the Moultrie Carriage Works built a fire wagon for the local department, but the thing had a habit of breaking down at the most inopportune time – frequently in route to a fire. Prior to this, the city had purchased a small wagon and one horse in 1908. The horse was named Jake. He had been on loan for a trial and Mayor W.D. Scott sold him outright to the city March 5, 1909. In 1911, the city bought a hose and chemical wagon from Savannah which was motorized, and a new fire station was constructed just behind the Carnegie Library.