Indiana’s First Volunteer Fire Department

Madison, Indiana was founded in 1809 on the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Louisville. The entire downtown has been designated part of a National Historic District. One part of this town’s fascinating history is the story of the Fair-Play Fire Co. Firehouse.

From a National Park Service article: “The Union Volunteer Fire Company organized in 1830 to help protect Madison’s citizens from fire, a very serious threat to 19th century communities. Several years later, the City of Madison voted to fund a paid municipal fire department, but within ten months the service was cancelled and the responsibility again rested on volunteer forces. In 1841, about 100 men, who originally were members of the Union Volunteer Fire Company, organized the Fair Play Fire Company No. 1, which is now the oldest volunteer company in Indiana.”







This is one of several active Volunteer Fire Departments protecting Madison, Indiana. Fair-Play Fire Company first saw action as a bucket brigade. They bought a hand drawn piece of equipment in 1851, and it is still owned by the department.  The tall tower on the firehouse was built to hang hoses to dry. Go to the NPS article, link above, for more details about the history of this fire company.

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