Authored by Shawna N. Fluckiger
The evening of January 4, 1884 terror struck the town of Provo, Utah. Billows of black smoke filled the auburn colored sky. The school house, Brigham Young Academy, burnt to the ground with no hope of salvation (Jensen 1924). The community was always willing to lend a hand when a tragedy such as a fire struck but there was no authority or supplies dedicated to the town’s fire safety. Five years (1890) after the Brigham Young Academy fire, Mayor John E. Booth decided that it was time to act so he organized the first volunteer fire department of Provo, Utah (Walden 1990). Marshal John A. Brown was appointed as chief captain and Hyrum Hatton as engineer (Herald Publishing Co. 1911).
The fire station was built on County Block and was a brick building with a tall tower. At the top of the tower was a bell that was said to have a piercing tone; when the bell fiercely sounded its alarm, the volunteer firemen came from all directions. Supplied with hand pumps, hoses, ladders, and a horse drawn La France fire engine, the firemen were ready to risk their lives to help the community (Knudson 1957).
Building a moral foundation based on the Vincentian tradition, the Provo volunteer fire department strived to accomplish all “operational core values” in their work and lives (Angel, n.d.). Continuously looking for opportunities to server others, the firemen helped a neighboring city where the opera house was burning to the ground and the fire was spreading to the nearby lumberyard (Jensen 1924). After serving the city of Springville for three days, the fire was soon extinguished saving almost all of the lumber (Knudson 1957). Without their brave acts of service, Springville would have suffered a larger loss. Not only was this an act of service and compassion but it was also an act of friendship and unity.
130 years later, the example of compassion and service that the first volunteer fire department set now spans across six fire and recuse stations. Provo’s fire and rescue team have made it their mission to protect all who enter Provo City and they educate the community on fire safety. “Educating and protecting our citizens is very important to us and we strive to provide quality service with dedication and pride. After all, the citizens and visitors of Provo City deserve nothing less” (City of Provo Utah, n.d.).
We salute the first heroes that served the community of Provo. The firemen who created an atmosphere in which all may embody the spirit of compassion and concern for others (St. John’s University 2015). Today we salute the heroes that have followed the examples set by their predecessors and who continue to serve their community in the Vincentian tradition.
Angel, Christine. n.d. “Information Representation through the Vincentian Lens of Transparency: Providing the Under and Misrepresented with a Voice within Our Cultural Heritage Records.” Google Docs. Accessed March 8, 2021. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qcJMPP6N6Mxq07J4ifsaWe4VQQ14JvgU/view?usp=embed_facebook.
City of Provo Utah. n.d. “Fire & Rescue”. Accessed March 8, 2021. https://www.provo.org/city-services/fire-rescue.
Herald Publishing Co. 1911. “The Fire Fighting Veterans Choose Officers.” The Provo Herald, July 20, 1911. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/73000353/provos-fire-department/.
Jensen, Jens Marinus. 1924. History of Provo, Utah. the author.
Knudson, Alice. 1957. “Remember Old Fire Hall on County Block?” The Daily Herald, February 24, 1957. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/72998941/details-about-the-first-fire-station-in/.
Utah.com. 2021. “Provo History.” Last modified 2021. https://utah.com/provo/history.
St. John’s University. 2015. “Our Mission.” Last modified October 2015. https://www.stjohns.edu/about/history-and-facts/our-mission.
Unknown, Provo’s volunteer fire department [Photograph], 1800, Provo City Library Archives, Provo, UT, United States.
Walden, David. 1990. “Historical Provo People and Places – Mayor Biography – Booth, John Edge.” October 1, 1990. https://www.provolibrary.com/historical-provo-people-places/55634-booth-john-edge.