The Fremont Wolf River Fire Department is preparing to celebrate its 100 years of history.
The 100-year celebration will be held from 2 p.m. to midnight Saturday, July 9, at the fire station.
The day’s events will include an open house from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., music by disc jockey Dr. Dobbe from 7 p.m. to midnight, and a lighted firetruck parade at 9 p.m.
Smokey the Bear will be a special guest, and there will also be food, refreshments and a 50-50 raffle throughout the day.
Fremont’s volunteer fire department was organized in 1911, equipped with a power fire engine and 500 feet of hose, which were used for more than a quarter of a century.
Paul R. Kohl was the first fire chief, serving in that role until 1929.
The department’s first piece of equipment was housed in the old frame village hall until moving into Koch’s Garage in 1933. The original station was on the Wolf River, just west of the Fremont Hotel. From there, the department’s station moved to the old village hall on Wolf River Drive.
On May 3, 1938, the village of Fremont united with the towns of Fremont and Wolf River to buy equipment, and by October of that year, they purchased a new firetruck, which was housed in the village.
According to their contract, each town was to appoint 22 firemen to assist at fires, with the department being known as the Fremont Rural Fire Department.
They had just four uniforms and not a single fire hydrant in the entire district. However, the department had one of the best systems of motorized fire-fighting equipment of any rural department in that area of Wisconsin.
In 1942, the community saw the wartime “fire girls” being trained. Vivian Sader, Lucille Abraham, Janice Zempel, Muriel Abraham, Mavis Bartel and Normal Averill learned how to climb ladders, handle the hose and assist the fire department, while the men were off at war.
It was in 1974 that the Fremont Wolf River Fire Department was organized. The three communities merged and decided that all the fire equipment would be owned by the newly organized department.
That same year, the department’s present station was built on Waupaca Street.
The community has seen its share of fires.
Some of the Fremont area’s most destructive and dangerous fires date back to December 1888. That is when almost the entire east side of Main Street was destroyed when three saloons, a dance hall and a store burned to the ground.
The Lawler Hotel was lost to a fire in 1896, and in 1918, a building owned by Fred Schulz and operated as a clothing store by Sam Gould burned to the ground. It was located at the corner of West Wolf River Drive and West Main Street, and Gould was sent to prison on an arson charge.
Other fires the department assisted with included the Chester Hofberger’s pre-dawn fire in 1940, the Averill store in 1955, the Readfield Mill in 1965, the Phil Lautinbach fire in 1971, Bauer’s Furniture Store in Weyauwega in 1972 and a fire in Dale in 1974 when a bank exploded.
Among the most recent fires was when Mel’s Supermarket burned down in 2001.
A number of men have served as the department’s chief. Gordon Puls retired earlier this year after serving as fire chief for 41 years. Today, Randy Miller leads the department.