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History of the Sunman Rural Fire Department

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A disastrous fire in 1886 destroyed 4 buildings in Sunman and prompted the citizens to form a volunteer fire department. Although the equipment at the time was not in comparison to the modern equipment that is in service today. A hand Pumper and bucket brigade was the latest variety.

In 1899 the volunteer group transferred their property to the Town of Sunman. In 1900 ground was leased from the railroad and a 1 bay fire station was erected. In 1905 the largest fire to ever hit Sunman, the fire started in the area of South Meridian & West Washington Street and is still the greatest amount of buildings destroyed. In 1924 the town board improved the fire protection by purchasing a motorized fire Pumper. The truck proved its worth by the success on several fires. The Prospect truck was a 300 GPM Pumper on a modem T Chassis and served the community for 13 years. In 1938 the town purchased a new 450 GPM Pumper on a Ford Chassis, with all the latest equipment. In 1943 a used chassis was purchased, a front mount pump was added, now the town had two fire trucks.

Up until 1951 the above trucks were assisting individuals outside or in the town of Sunman. In this year the town water works was put into operation, a rate credit for the town was given by the Indiana Rating Bureau with the ruling that the 1938 Pumper was not to leave the town limits or its rate would be rescinded. The second truck that the town purchased with the front mount pump, now was the only apparatus that could leave the town. It was a Pumper with no water, and a very limited supply of equipment. It created a serious problem for the citizens living in the rural area. Several buildings were lost; the firefighters were embarrassed by the lack of equipment to work with. Several attempts were made to secure funds to buy a piece of fire apparatus for the rural area. In 1953 the department members went door to door to solicit funds to buy a fire engine. The work of the volunteers was a huge success. In January of 1954 the present Sunman Rural Fire Department was formed and a new 1954 Pumper was purchased with complete equipment. In 1955 a used truck was purchased and a water tank was placed on it to haul water to the rural area when needed to assist the new Pumper. In 1957 the latest in radio equipment was installed in the trucks. Radio station was monitored 24 hours a day. The need arose for a grass truck, in April of 1963 a 1 ton truck was purchased for this need and the department placed the necessary equipment on this vehicle.

In 1948 the department moved from its one bay fire station, to a 2 bay station on Jackson Street, where it would hold 3 trucks. Again in 1963 this station would not hold all the apparatus. The department purchased a piece of property at the corner of Jackson & Eastern Avenue in 1964 and immediately built a new station, 3 bay, which would hold 5 pieces of fire equipment. At this time the town owned a 1938 Pumper and the Rural Department owned the balance of the equipment. The town was informed by the rating bureau, that they would have to replace their truck as it was out of date. At this time the rural department purchased the 1938 truck and the Town got out of the ownership of equipment. This mandate came in 1966 and the fire department purchased a new Pumper, which was delivered in 1968 to satisfy the rating bureau.

In 1970 the department updated its tanker with a 1800-gallon tank on a used chassis. In 1970 each firefighter received a home monitor to receive calls for assistance. In 1973 the department purchased a new truck for grass and brush fires. In 1974 a equipment van was purchased to haul extra equipment. In 1979 a new Pumper was purchased to keep up with regulations. The 1954 Pumper was sold. In 1985 the equipment van was sold and a larger truck was purchased to keep up with the needed tools for fire service. In December of 1994 the department received a new Pumper. The 1968 Pumper was sold. In 1994 a new Pumper was purchased and the 1979 Pumper was sold. In 1998, a new Tanker was ordered to replace the 1970 Tanker. Shortly after, the 1970 Tanker was wrecked and not usable. Milan Fire Department lent us a Tanker until the new Tanker was received in 1998. The 1973 Brush Truck was sold and replaced with a 1999 Ford one ton, crew cab Brush Truck. Many small and miscellaneous items have been purchased over the years.

Changing times and exotic environment have mandated numerous things and changes over the years. Without the financial help of everyone in this community the above things could not have been accomplished. Many challenges, time, and needs await all departments as we await the 20th century. The needs are present, everyone can help, will you assist?