Marksville Fire Department celebrates 100th anniversary this Saturday
The public is invited to help the Marksville Fire Department celebrate its 100th birthday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday (Nov. 2) at an open house at the fire station on N. Main Street.
Refreshments will be served and there will be a Jupiter jump and other activities for the children, Fire Chief Jerry Bordelon said.
Marksville’s first organized volunteer fire department was established in 1919. It hired its first two full-time firefighters in 1983. It made the jump to a full-time professional fire department, with firefighters residing at the fire station, in 1998.
Today there are 10 full-time firefighters and 12 volunteers providing protection within the city limits of Marksville and to communities outside the city in Fire District 2.
“We want the public to come out and celebrate this anniversary with us,” Bordelon said.
The Marksville Fire Department was established in 1919 under the administration of Mayor Jules E. Didier and led into action by Lionel Gremillion, Marksville's first fire chief, with nine other volunteers.
These men fought fires by hauling water in buckets from cisterns or anywhere they could find water. This was commonly known as the “Bucket Brigade.”
Fire signals were given by courthouse and church bells. Some residents fired shotguns into the air to alert the firefighters. In 1927, an air-blast signal was purchased.
In 1932, the fire department purchased its first 500 gallon pumper. The truck was driven from Logansport, Indiana to Marksville by Dr. E.M. Laborde and Tucker Couvillion, who became fire chief. At that time, Percy Smith and Laborde were the only two original members remaining on the department.
As times changed, a 1952 pumper and a 1963 pumper were later put into service. In 1975 a mini-pumper was added to the department. Though 45 years old, the 1963 pumper is still in use today and still capable of fighting fires.
In 1983, Chris Bordelon was hired as the first full-time fireman for the department. Following Bordelon, Newman Greenhouse Sr. was hired as the second full-time fireman in 1989.
In the early '90's, Emergency Alert Pagers were issued to the firefighters and heavy rescue tools were purchased. These tools are used to rescue persons trapped in vehicles involved in auto accidents or to gain access to anyone in distress. In 1997 Marksville voters approved a Public Safety Tax and May 1998 the fire department hired it's first full-time crew of firefighters and replaced outdated equipment. These men continue to work in shifts 24 hours a day 7 days a week to provide fire protection to the community.
Some of the largest fires in Marksville were Lewis Roy Motors in 1977, Marksville High School in 1978, Marksville Middle School in 1992 and Gen-Re Plastics in 2002.
Today the department has 27 career and volunteer firefighters, four 1,000-gallon-per-minute pumpers, a Rescue Unit used for trapped persons and hazardous materials response, a 3000-gallon tanker, a brush truck for grass fires and a recently purchased ladder truck, which is the only one in the parish in Avoyelles Parish, all ready to respond to the needs of the community.