Carlisle Fire Company Holds Open House


By Terry Rogers

On Sunday, October 21, 2012, Carlisle Fire Company held an open house at the fire station with displays from several state organizations, fire truck rides, children’s activities and free smoke detectors for those who requested them. In addition, visitors could enjoy free hot dogs, popcorn and sodas provided by the Ladies Auxiliary.

“We had a great turnout, and the weather was perfect,” said Marvin Sharp, President of the company. “Looks like the kids are really enjoying themselves.

Participating organizations included Sussex County EMS, Department of Public Safety, Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department Dive Team, DNREC, Dover Air Force Base, and the Delaware Fire Marshall’s Office. A Delaware State Police Helicopter also landed at the event, grabbing the attention of many of the children and adults in attendance.


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Corporal Shawn Wright, the pilot of the helicopter and Corporal Sean McDerby, the medic on the chopper, explained the missions of the Delaware State Police Aviation Section. Their primary mission is patient transport, responding to accident scenes once ground medics, who are the first to arrive at an accident, determine a patient needs immediate transport to a trauma center or hospital. In addition to patient transport, the Aviation Division assists with law enforcement needs, such as search and rescue, criminal searches and marijuana locates. They also assist local fire departments by spotting fires from the air.

“Ninety percent of our job involves patient transport,” said Corporal McDerby. “If we can land at a scene, we will land.” Medics on police helicopters are also trained in law enforcement for missions involving criminal activity, McDerby explained.

Rob Mauch, Supervisor with the Sussex County Paramedics, explained to the many children and adults who came to his table what the paramedics do and the many types of machinery they use when treating patients. Children also enjoyed the Dover Air Force Base Fire Safety House and learned about the policies used by the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department Dive Team.

Inside the fire company, in Grier Hall, children enjoyed the many activities, including coloring, temporary tattoos and demonstrations of the “Stop, Drop and Roll” technique.

“I learned about stop, drop and roll when your clothes are on fire,” said Kamiya Guinn, who attended the event with her brother, Kamari. They both thought the helicopter was “cool.”

Children also felt how much pressure comes out of a fire hose with as company volunteers allowed them to spray hanging tennis balls and a speed limit sign. Many of the children were surprised at how much pressure the water had and how the force of the water can knock things over.

Milford has had a fire company since January 26, 1802, when a law passed by the General Assembly allowed Milford to incorporate a company in the city. Members were required to meet every year on the first Saturday in February to elect officers. In 1869, the town formed the Milford Hook and Ladder Company, and the company was equipped with a hand-drawn hook and ladder truck from Rumsey Company of New York. The first truck was housed in a building located behind what was then W.A. Humes Hardware Store, and now houses Mispillion Art League and other art galleries.

On January 26, 1891 around 9:30 pm, a fire in the stables of the Central Hotel threatened not only the hotel, but to cause significant damage to the entire town. According to reports, citizens set up two lines of men to the river, which was about 75 yards away from the hotel, wetting the side of the hotel in order to save it. The fire prompted a special meeting of the town commissioners on February 9, 1892, where they appointed a committee with the “power to control the hose and carriage” until a formal fire company could be organized.

Milford Fire Company was chartered by the City of Milford on April 18, 1892, and the first officers elected were W.T. Watson, President; J.A. Hall, Vice-President; Theodore Townsend, Secretary; and F.H. Kramlich, Treasurer. The first order of business for the newly chartered company was the purchase of a fire truck. The members raised $4,345 in ten days, and, by adding carnival proceeds, purchased Truck No. 1 from the American LaFrance Fire Truck Company for $6,750.

In 1917, Paris T. Carlisle IV, the son of Paris T. and Anna Vaules Carlisle, and an apprentice physicist at the L.D. Caulk Company, was drafted to serve in the American Expeditionary Force in World War I. On October 6, 1918, Carlisle was killed in action in at the Battle of the Argonne Forest. Carlisle was an active member of the Milford Fire Company, holding many offices, including Vice-President, Recording Secretary, and First Assistant Engineer. In honor of his valued service to the company, at the regular meeting on December 5, 1918, members voted to officially change the name of the company to the Carlisle Fire Company, a name that remains today.

In 1925, Carlisle Fire Company moved into a state-of-the-art fire station at the corner of Church and Southeast Second Streets in Milford. The building was a sign of how important the fire company was to the citizens of the town, as the first floor held a gym where school basketball games were held. The second floor held the Varney Auditorium, named for Charles Varney, who was elected President of the company in 1915 and held that office for more than 30 years. The banquet facilities located in the Varney Auditorium were the most elegant in town and many banquets, meetings, dances and other community events were held there. The Milford Public Library also used two rooms on the second floor before moving to their own building. After dedication of the building, citizens participated in a Grand Parade followed by the annual Fireman’s Carnival.

In 1978, the company moved to their current location at 615 Northwest Front Street, but the original firehouse still stands, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.