Plans to display historical memorabilia from Winnsboro Fire Department are underway.

Newspaper clippings, antique fire fighting equipment and photographs will line the walls in the fire department’s hallways, according to Jesse Morris, fire chief.

The display of historic memorabilia from Winnsboro’s Fire Department took a step closer thanks in part to a donation by Dave Hutto and Jess Doughty.

Hutto donated copies of newspaper clippings from the early to mid-70s. Doughty donated copies of newspaper clippings dating back to the mid to late 30’s when the department was in its infancy. Franklin Parish residents have also donated department pictures and Morris has collected and salvaged various firefighting equipment.

Winnsboro Fire Department officially started in 1924 with a bucket brigade. A bucket brigade is a method for transporting items passed from one person to the next. The method was important in firefighting before the advent of hand-pumped fire engines, whereby firefighters would pass buckets to each other to extinguish a blaze.

During this time, Winnsboro suffered through horrific fires that would destroy large parts of the town including the school, so Town Council members and residents purchased a fire truck.

Through hard work and dedication, Winnsboro’s Fire Department approved tremendously and received a fire rating of Class A, the equivalent of a modern day fire protection rating of 1.

Fire protection classification is a rating determining how well a fire department can protect its community and homes. Insurance companies use the score to help set home insurance rates. Higher scores translates to higher insurance rates. Winnsboro’s current rating is a six.

The early fire department was entirely volunteer except for the chief, a point brought out by then Winnsboro Mayor H.B Landis in a May 18, 1939 Franklin Sun article. Firefighters even bought their own helmets, salvage covers, inside fire hose and other pieces of firefighting equipment, according to Landis.

“Not one boy in the fire department receives any compensation for his services,” Landis said, defending the firefighters. “Each gives his time to the people of Winnsboro and asks no money in return. All are motivated by the highest spirit of public service because they know severe injuries or even death may come to them in the path of duty.”

Landis bragged on their hard work in the department.

“The boys drill two hours each week and complete details of each drill are filed with the proper fire authorities in Baton Rouge each month,” Landis said. “Study subjects at these meetings include pumps, tools, ladder work, hose, knots, ventilation, entering burning buildings, doing salvage work and rendering first aid.”

The volunteers raised money throughout Winnsboro to approve the department. One such effort to raise funds came through donkey baseball. Games were held on Winnsboro high school’s campus on Friday nights and pitted the fire department verses the Lions Club.

“The fire department boys won the majority of the softball games played this summer, and it is natural that their crowing has become slightly obnoxious to the losing Lions, who plan to get a sweet revenge in the coming donkey ball game,” Sun article said. “The firemen have intimated that the close affinity existing between the Lion members and their long-ears mounts may give that club a slight edge. this is expected not to be an insurmountable disadvantage, however.”

“The firemen further contend the Lions should act their age and refrain from rough sports such as the scheduled game next Friday night. They urge that an easy chair on some shady porch is much more fitting than a strenuous baseball game.”

“The Lions on the contrary assert that older heads are needed to manipulate a donkey around a ball diamond. They think superior knowledge and experience will be the deciding factor in their triumph over the strong backs and weak minds of their adversaries.”

For more information about the collection or if you have an item you would like to donate call Morris at (318) 435-5306.

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