Happy 150th, PFD, with grateful thanks

IT ALL STARTED, AS one might expect, with a fire. It was in 1868 when the remodeled frame store of H.N. Smith was destroyed in a fire.

It was only a quarter of a century or so since the first white settler had come to what would become Plymouth and still almost a decade before Plymouth would become an incorporated city.

But, after the Smith fire, there was a widespread recognition of the need for a formal, organized fire fighting effort in the community to replace the haphazard bucket brigade response.

The result was the purchase of a hand fire engine and 200 feet of hose along with the creation of a fire company.

That was the beginning of the Plymouth Fire Department.

This weekend, the department will be celebrating its 150th anniversary by throwing a party for the public they serve.

And what a party it’s going to be.

It all starts Sunday with a big parade through downtown all the way to the fairgrounds, with the Flight for Life helicopter flying over Mill Street to kick off the parade.

Then the party will start at the fairgrounds. There will be food and beverages, music from The Mantz Brothers and II Cool, giant inflatables, pony rides and a petting zoo, with fire trucks and the Flight for Life helicopter on display.

All in all, it will be a great way to celebrate the department’s 150 years of service to Plymouth and the surrounding area.

It’s a service we couldn’t live without and for which we owe all the volunteer firefighters now and over the last century and a half a huge debt of gratitude.

They are men and women who have full-time jobs but volunteer their time to answer the call when fire or emergency strikes.

That answer involves so much more than just a hand fire engine and some hose these days.

There are great time demands in being a volunteer firefighter today, in terms of required training, regular meetings, continued training and study, and more on top of the demands of answering the call in emergencies at any time of night or day.

The demands of the work, the training needed to safely fight fires and provide emergency service in today’s complicated and increasingly technical world, make it more and more of a challenge for volunteers to continue to provide that service.

Plymouth does have the benefit of a full-time, paid professional fire chief to lead the department and coordinate its efforts.

Denis Fellows has filled that role capably and competently since 2015 after decades of service in various capacities in the department.

It stands as a testament to the continuity and dedication of its members that the department has had only four fire chiefs over the past 70 years – Max Giebler, Ralph Mayer, Ronald Nicolaus and now Fellows. That exemplifies the lifelong commitment to community service that all members of the department make.

The Plymouth Fire Department is made up of 42 of our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers who answer the call when needed – 409 times last year alone.

Sunday would be a good time to pause in the midst of the fun they are providing for the community they serve to say a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of them for their service, their dedication and their devotion.

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