Fire Department

 1919 Ford Model T Fire Truck.

The Volunteer Fire Department for the Village of Sartell. 

The Sartell Volunteer Fire Department was established in 1920. The first Fire Chief was Lester McNeil. The fire station was built of cement blocks and located on Riverside Ave  and 2nd Street North next to the Village Hall.

Sartell Fire Department Building about 1920

1939 New Fire Truck

The Sartell Volunteer Fire Department

Front Row: Vince Hood, Del Staneart, Bob Patton, George Hovannes Sr., Oliver Frank Davidson, Ed Mangle

Second Row: Bernard Baldwin Sr

Third Row: Lowell Hochsprung, Lloyd Hurd

Fourth Row: Peter Pikus Sr

Lloyd Hurd- George Hovannes- Roman Zinda

Driving the Model T Fire Truck in a parade.

Sartell Fire Department about 1970's located on Riverside Ave.

Fire Trucks listed left to right:

1919 Model T,                           1939 Ford Pumper,                 1964 International Tanker,       1967 International Pumper,     1955 International Pumper and 1975 Diesel Pumper

1920 Volunteer Fire Department

From the St. Cloud Journal-Press

Thursday, February 5, 1920


The Citizens of Sartell met last evening in order to organize a volunteer fire department. The following were elected to act as officers: Lester McNeil, as Chief; Norris Sartell, M.L. Cole and William Sartell as Sub-Chiefs; and Earl Sartell, Joe Sartell, L.L. Sartell, Ripley Sartell, Marcus Sartell, Lee Pebeles, Harry McNeil, Al Green, Ralph Guptial, Harvey Johnson, M. DeZurik, Will Dahlmeir, Clarence Garding, Claude Schere, F.N. Sartell, Ben Garding, Gus nelson offered their assistance as volunteers. The department expects the new fire equipment to be here in a few days. This consists of a Ford fire truck costing $3,800.00...............

The Village: Fire Department

The Village: Fire Department

By Marcella "Zinda"  and Claude Dingmann Jr.

Fire took a heavy toll of key buildings during the village's infancy. Among those lost were: the first log school, the home of J.B. Sartell (1882), the flour mill (1909), the Alpine Hotel and the Sartell Bros Lumber Company office. In the latter, many records of Le Sauk Township were also destroyed.  As a result of these losses the citizens decided to organize  a volunteer fire department. This was done on February 4, 1920. The first regular meetings held at L.L. Sartell garage on February 18,1920. The first chief of the Sartell Volunteer Fire Department was Chief Lester McNeal who called the meeting for the purpose of perfecting the organization of the fire department.  By his order the following named persons were to familiarize themselves with the duties of appointed fire truck drivers, Joseph Sartell, Harry McNeil, Warren Monk, Ripley Sartell and Ralph Guptill.  Those ordered to receive instruction and familiarize themselves with duties of hose men were Harvey Johnson, Gus Nelson, Lee Peebles, William Dahlmier, Edwin Sartell, John C. Conway, L.L. Sartell, John Smitten and Jack Davidson and John Hansel. Clarence J. Gardin was elected secretary of the organization.

The town had earlier ordered a new fire truck which was delivered by Mr. Waterous, the founder of the Waterous Pump Company. The first fireman remember that on the day it was delivered it was 15 degrees below zero. Mr. Waterous was bundled up in a large coon-skin coat because the truck was of the open cock-pit type which meant a very cold ride from St. Paul at 20 miles per hour.  The new truck was a 1918 model "T" Ford with a rear mounted pump, a 200 gallon tank and 800 feet of hose. It costs $3,800.00. One of the earliest first fire calls was in response to a lightening strike at the William Sartell residence and later at the Sartell Bros Planing Mill. On November 22, 1920, a whistle was installed at the Watab Paper and Boiler House with signals as follows. Siren blows first and then one whistle  for across on east side of the river, or the siren and then two whistles for south of Watab Creek or the siren blows and then three whistles for the North side of the creek.

On November 2, 1931, Chief Warren Monk called a special meeting to establish regular meeting dates and age limits for the firepersons. It was determined that the fire department would meet on the 2nd Monday of each month. The age limits for the volunteers were 21 to 40 years of age and must retire at the age of 60. The number of volunteers was limited to 25 persons.

After it was retired in 1940, it was called to duty at the coal dock fire and played an instrumental part in saving the structure. In the 40's it went up for sale on bids and was sold to Wally Schave Jr. for $87.00. Wally had it for five years and then sold it to a junk yard in Princeton. It sat in the junk yard for several years until it was spotted by a fire truck collector form Shakopee who purchased it with the intention of restoring it. He never got around to restoring it and give it to his son-in-law from Mound who was also an antique collector. The latter restoring it but before he had finished, he decided he had too many antiques and not enough room. Through the truck's serial number, he traced the original ownership back to Sartell and wrote to the fire department to see if they would be interested in buying it back for $700.00. The department wanted it back but they didn't have enough money so they wrote the owner and explained that while they would like to have the truck back they could not buy it because of the lack of funds.  (Tax funds could not be used for that purpose). The fire department felt badly about the possible loss of old Number 1  and gave up hope of ever seeing it again.  But a year later a stroke of luck came to bear. The owner wrote to the department again and explained "as long as it was our first truck, he felt that it should go back to Sartell and that, if we still wanted it, we could have it for $500.00, and that if we would send him $100.00 down payment we could take a year to pay the balance." This, the department could handle. So after 30 years old Number 1 came back home.

Fireman Neal Pearson, Willie Weinand, Bill Rau and Jim Thole hauled the truck back. It was completely disassembled and a lot of it was in cardboard boxes. Restoration was completed in the Weinand farm work-shop by the fireman. The truck today still has its original ladder, bell and kerosene lanterns.

In the early 50's the then "Village of Sartell" drew up a fire protection contract with the Township of Le Sauk. This joint effort has worked for over 50 years and has proved to be a great benefit for both entities. the City and the Township over the years, has given the fire department the utmost cooperation and has assisted in the purchase of trucks, equipment, and a new fire hall.

A list  of the fire chiefs that have served since February 13, 1920 include Lester McNeal, Norris Sartell, Warren Monk, John Robatchek, Vince Hood, Erwin Wesenberg, Roy Gilman, Pete Pikus Sr., George Hovannes, Neal Pearson, Willie Weinand, Jan Bettenberg, Bill Rau, Steve Heins, Claude Dingmann Jr. and Ken Heim.

History of Sartell, Minnesota  Lumber, Paper, Valves and Progress  A Century of Progress Welcoming a Century of Promise. pages 40-43