A new exhibit at Mason Square Museum on the north side of the square tells some of the stories of Mason Volunteer Fire Department over the past 108 years. Fire departments are among those organizations protecting everyone’s lives and property…right here and now and always. That’s a simple statement for skillful and dangerous work, not usually on everyone’s mind.
The Mason Volunteer Fire Company was founded in 1906 a few years after a disastrous fire destroyed part of the north side of courthouse square. Volunteers have been on the job ever since.
Buckets were the first equipment and regular work clothes the first protective suits, with a bandana over the nose in case of heavy smoke. But things change quickly: equipment, clothing, vehicles, and training.
On display is equipment from buckets to an early “grenade” fire extinguisher; overalls and a bunker coat; the first breathing apparatus (that bandana) to more recent respiration gear.
Stories include early fire alarms (the first, a hand-held bell); the eight fire stations (two of which burned); equipment changes (from a 1911 Cadillac to rescue vehicles); training (practice fires at the courthouse and today’s hazmat skills); and the night graduating seniors took a fire truck for a midnight spin (not authorized).
Photos range from that courthouse square fire in 1900 to present-day training.
The exhibit is not the whole story, but it’s a start at recognizing some of the heroes of the county. What you won’t see is present-day equipment, that’s at the station ready to go at a moment’s notice…in the hands of the volunteers.
And while you’re at the museum shop, check out the new publications related to Mason County: A new book to the Museum is “The Goddess of War: A True Story of Passion, Betrayal, and Murder in the Old West” by Dennis McCown. McCown says: “The book begins and ends in Fredonia. Three women from Fredonia all had their lives ruined by the same outlaw (John Wesley Hardin), and the story impacts their descendants in Mason County to this very day.”
Also available, are old copies of “True West” and “Frontier Times” magazines from 1959 to 1975. Visitors may also purchase lengths of old barbed wire (several varieties) and a few old rusty horseshoes and muleshoes from the Mason area.