Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Dept. celebrates 100th anniversary

By: Madeline Anderson Email
By: Madeline Anderson Email

Bringing in big trucks, vintage trucks and trucks from different districts, the 600-person community of Ridgeway pulled out all the stops for July's milestone anniversary.

"We wanted to make as big a celebration as we could," said former Ridgeway fire chief John McSherry. "I don't think there's anything more important than fire departments and fire fighters."

The village celebrated the volunteer fire department's 100th anniversary with a parade and picnic Saturday. It's a major feat considering all of the first responders do this on their own time.

"Everybody is on the department because it's something that they want to do," McSherry said. "It's not like being a paid fire department."

McSherry, along with current fire chief Joe Thomas and assistant fire chief Paul Davis, have been a part of the department for a combined 88 years. They say a lot has changed since 1913 in terms of technology, communication and the types of calls they go out on.

"One hundred years ago they had bucket brigades and no personal protective equipement," Davis said.

"When I joined the department, we had one hand-held radio. And the chief had that," Thomas said.

"We used to have a lot of chimney fires and things like that," McSherry said. "More people burn wood. We don't have much of that anymore. So it's more car accidents than anything else."

Then there are some things that will never change, like their commitment to protect others and the comradery between the 34 men and women in the unit.

"One of the biggest memories for me is the Barneveld tornado," Thomas said. "We were one of the first outside agencies into Barneveld that night of the tornado. That was really something."

"We were there for two days straight, never came home," McSherry said. "You couldn't belong to a better organization than volunteer firemen."

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