'Fire call' to the Museum
Part of Chula history added to museum
By Kirsten Mouton
Contributing Writer, C-T, 01 11 18

A bit of Chula's history has been added to the Grand River Historical Society Museum in Chillicothe. Chula Fire Chief Jeff Gillespie, Chula Fire Department Board president Randy Horton, and Lawrence Hinnen of the Chula Fire Department, along with a number of firefighters, presented an old, restored, pull-type pumper cart to the museum. The cart was manufactured in 1888 and came to Chula probably in the 1910s.


C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley
An 1888 pull-type pumper fire apparatus belonging to the Chula Rural Fire Department is the newest exhibit at Grand River Historical Society Museum. Lawrence Hinnen, far left, began fighting fires in Chula in 1959 and recalls using this cart. The apparatus, at that time, was mounted in the back of a pickup truck. The cart was originally designed to be pulled by two men to the location of a reported fire. The steel wheels were later replaced with rubber tires so that it could be pulled behind a pickup truck. The unit was later mounted on the back of a pickup truck. The cart has since been restored to its original condition. The delivery to the museum was made Wednesday morning by Hinnen, along with Chula Fire Chief Jeff Gillespie (right) and Bobby Scheib (center).

The cart was on display during the quarterly dinner meeting of the Grand River Historical Society and Museum Tuesday evening at the Elks Lodge. Official delivery of the apparatus was made Wednesday morning. During Tuesday's meeting, Hinnen, who began fighting fires in Chula in 1959, said that Benny Simpson was one of several individuals who combined parts from three engines to restore the approximately 65-gallon fire cart. Hinnen explained how firefighters used the cart. Glass chemical bottles filled with soda acid were placed into the cart's sealed tank, then broken by a levered hammer. The mixture would react, forming a foam spray that would shoot out through a rubber hose under a fair amount of pressure.

A firefighting pumper cart once used in Chula includes a sealed tank where glass chemical bottles filled with soda acid were placed. The bottles, when needed, were broken by a levered hammer. The mixture would react, forming a foam spray that would shoot out through a rubber hose under a fair amount of pressure.

The cart was originally designed to be pulled by two men to the location of a reported fire. Occasionally, two additional fire fighters were needed to push the cart from behind if the unit was needed at an uphill site. In the 1940s or 1950s the fire cart's steel wheels were changed to rubber so it could be pulled behind a pickup truck to make runs to the countryside. In 1959, according to Hinnen, one of two original Chula Fire Department Board members still living, the fire engine was mounted onto the back of a Chevy pickup.

While the Chula community was established in 1885, the fire department did not organize until 1963. Volunteer labor was used to build the fire house and it was ready for use by 1964. There are currently 13 volunteer firefighters in the Chula Rural Fire District, eight of whom are fire department board members, according to board president Randy Horton. The department is operated by volunteers and financially supported by memberships and fundraisers.

January 9th Quarterly Dinner - The January quarterly meeting of the Grand River Historical Society Museum Board will be held at the Chillicothe Elks Lodge, 403 Harvester Road, Chillicothe at 6:30 on Tuesday January 9th. The program for the event will be presented by the Chula Fire Department. The group is presenting a horse driven fire wagon to the museum and will tell about the history of the Chula Fire Department from its beginning to the present. We hope to have the wagon at the meeting weather permitting so those attending can look it over and ask questions about the Chula Fire Department and the wagon.

The meal will be fried chicken prepared as usual by Jeff Frampton. The dinner will begin at 6:30 with the program to follow at around 7:15. Cost for the evening will be $10.00. To make a reservation, please call the museum at 660-646-1341 or Ron Wilder at 660-646-0502.

From Our Newsletter - Winter 2018 promises to be very busy at the museum as we change out and add to some already existing exhibits. A brand new fire department exhibit featuring fire equipment (patented in 1883) donated by the Chula Fire Department, alongside a new mural by our local muralist Kelly Poling, promises to be very interesting. This will be revealed at our annual Spring Tea to be held on Sunday, April 6, 2018. Other exhibits to be tweaked include: the barber shop, dentist office, general store and some new additions to our military exhibit.

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