200@200 : October — To Govern and Serve
Date:
1857
Title:
First Alert Speaking Trumpet
Description:
Fire protection is a necessary function of city government. In 1833, Fort Wayne trustees authorized the formation of a volunteer fire company, and in 1834, decreed that multiple volunteer fire companies should form. The companies were slow to form; each was to have a specialty: engine; hose; and hook and ladder companies. Each volunteer firefighter was to provide his own fire bucket.

The First Alert Hook and Ladder Company began in 1856 and shortly thereafter reorganized as the Independent Alert Hook and Ladder Company, before they ultimately joined the city department in the mid—1860s, dropping the "Independent" from their name. Increasingly sophisticated fire—fighting techniques became necessary as Fort Wayne grew. Volunteer companies disbanded and professional firefighters took over the responsibilities of the volunteers, resulting in First Alert Hook and Ladder Company disbanding in 1886. The First Alerts were considered the most prestigious volunteer fire—fighting company in the nineteenth century and lasted longer than any other volunteer company in the city.

Fort Wayne's full—time, professional fire department was implemented by the end of 1881. On May 12, 1882, Henry Hilbrecht embarked on a long and distinguished career as Chief of the Fire Force. The department was located in an engine house at the corner of Court and Berry Streets.

This silver speaking trumpet was used by the foreman and his assistants to direct firefighting efforts at the scene of a fire. With speaking trumpets like this one, supervisors could coordinate and lead activities. Dated 1857, this silver speaking trumpet was rescued from a scrap metal drive during World War II.
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First Alert Speaking Trumpet, 1857First Alert Speaking Trumpet, 1857
First Alert Speaking Trumpet, 1857First Alert Speaking Trumpet, 1857
First Alert Speaking Trumpet detail, 1857First Alert Speaking Trumpet detail, 1857
First Alert Speaking Trumpet detail inscription, 1857First Alert Speaking Trumpet detail inscription, 1857
First Alert Speaking Trumpet detail, 1857First Alert Speaking Trumpet detail, 1857
First Alert Speaking Trumpet detail mouthpiece, 1857First Alert Speaking Trumpet detail mouthpiece, 1857
Hook and Ladder Company, 1870sHook and Ladder Company, 1870s
Hose Reel Wagon, 1889Hose Reel Wagon, 1889
FWFD Steam Powered Pumper, 1903FWFD Steam Powered Pumper, 1903