In 1880, 44 years after its founding, Crete was incorporated as a village but no fire department was formed. Instead, when a fire was discovered, citizens came running to pitch in. Neighbors brought their ladders. Men formed a brigade and passed buckets of water from man to man to douse the fires.
Organizing a Fire Company
On January 24, 1889, Myron E. Quackenbush called to order a meeting to organize a fire company. A Constitution was drafted and the adopted on January 31, 1889. A Committee on Heating Room was instructed to rent a stove from J.C. Dierson and buy 500 pounds of hard coal. The charter members each donated 20 cents to buy that coal. The Village purchased a bell in 1890 for its fire alarm and a portable water tank was added. The original bell was restored in 2006 and rests in front of Fire Station No. 1 on Benton Street in honor of the firemen who have risked their lives for the Village.
Myron Quackenbush, a Civil War veteran, served as the First Fire Chief from 1889 to 1909. On June 11, 1894, Crete officially established a fire department as part of the Village government. Twenty-four men of the fire company were selected to serve as the volunteer fire department.
Crete Manufacturing Company Fire
On November 14, 1895, tragedy struck when the sash and door business was completely destroyed in Crete's largest fire to that date. Upon discovering the flames on the roof, the night watchman tooted the company's whistle and within 15 minutes of the Village fire bell ringing, nearly the whole village was at the scene. The fire had already spread over the entire wooden building. The firemen worked tirelessly fighting flames that had jumped to neighboring homes. Facing flames and smoke, the firemen with their buckets saved all the homes and lives, using water from the Village cisterns.
Since its early years, the Crete Fire department has continued to grow and has saved hundreds of lives and property worth millions of dollars.
The above information is from the five Crete Remembered books by Phyllis Monks and Carol Triebold, which are available at the Crete Library.