From the Beginning to Now
The Brainerd Fire Department was organized February 13, 1872 in Askews Billiard Hall, with 37 men paying one dollar each to belong. The only source of water in town were three town wells. The usual manner of fighting a fire was with the bucket brigade in which pails of water were passed from hand to hand down the line of men to the fire.
In 1885, a two-story frame Fire Station was constructed at the north end of South Fifth Street. In the early 1890's, a team of iron grey horses was purchased. The equipment was arranged in such a way that at the sound of the alarm the team would come out of its stall, be harnessed and hitched to the wagon and be ready to roll, often times in less than a minute after the alarm sounded. Horses were used for 20 years.
In 1914, a new Fire Station was constructed. It was on Fifth Street, next to City Hall. The current Fire Station was constructed in 1982 and is located at 23 Laurel Street. In 2004, a substation was built at 1301 Mill Avenue and a training room addition was added to the main station.
1919 Model T Fire Engine
The Brainerd Fire Department Relief Association purchased the Model T in the late 1960's and the engine was originally owned by the Fridley Fire Department. In 1996, the truck's original engine was replaced with a 1970 Ford Pinto engine. Over the years, the Brainerd Fire Department has used the vintage engine in Fourth of July parades, annual fire department conferences and special requests for appearances.
Daryl Rubbelke, retired Battalion Chief with the Brainerd Fire Department, restored the engine; disassembling, distributing pieces and reassembling the entire engine in 2010 and 2011.
The Department thanks those who helped make the 1919 Model T engine restoration possible: Kampmann Sash and Door, Shannon's Auto Body, Northland Fire Protection, Lakeland Mold and American Welding Supplies; retired firefighters Merle Gallant, Herb Stunek, and Fred Underhill; and current members; Battalion Chief Daryl Rubbelke and Captain Barry Sell.
Facts About Our Model T
- The fire engine's hand-cranked siren is from the original engine.
- The engine's bell was donated by the railroad and retired Brainerd firefighter, Merle Gallant.
- The engine's hood ornament is from an original 1919 Ford Model T.
- The pinto engine was donated by retired Brainerd firefighter Herb Stunek.