On November 12, 2015 members of the Milford Fire Company membership recognized the official renaming of the company 97 years ago as the Carlisle Fire Company, in memory of Lieutenant Paris T. Carlisle IV, 319th Infantry Regiment, 80th Division, U.S. Army. Originally know as the Milford Fire Company, the organization was renamed after the active member of the Milford Fire Company who fought in World War I and never returned. Carlisle was killed in action on October 6, 1918 near the Meuse River in France on October 6, 1918, just one month before the November 11 armistice which later became the national holiday known as Armistice Day and later Veterans Day.
According to officials at the Carlisle Fire Company, eight members of the company fought in World War I and those who stayed home actively engaged in war relief work “making the Milford firemen the leading group during those years.”
The newly formed Carlisle Fire Company purchased the site of their former firehouse in 1922 on land that once was home to the Barto Shirt Factory, in operation from 1900 to 1921, before it burnt to the ground in a fire in 1921. The Carlisle Fire House was completed in 1925 and was occupied until moving to its present day location at 615 Northwest Front Street in 1978.Today, the Carlisle Fire Company has approximately 94 members and twelve pieces of equipment.
“Milford has been so affected by fires over much of its history,” stated Claudia Leister, Executive Director of the Milford Museum. “Records of early fire fighting in Milford have been lost through time but we do have detailed accounts of major fires from the 1800’s to date.”
According to Ms. Leister, the first account of a large fire in Milford was in February of 1885 when a fire started in Lowery’s livery stables behind the Milford Hotel on Walnut Street. Before modern firefighter technology was available, only buckets and force pumps were used by 500 men who took part in fighting the fire. Through further research Leister also uncovered a fire that occurred during the winter of 1891 behind the Central Hotel on NW Front Street. A newspaper accounted that “It appears it was only an act of Providence coupled with the tireless efforts of the 300 men who fought the flames that saved the town.” A year later, Milford citizens met to plan for the organization of a fire company and a hand-drawn hook and ladder truck was purchased.
After this scare, the town council also voted to install a public water system with its main water well located between Pearl Alley and South Washington Street.
“Downtown Milford has lost a lot to fire and the facade itself has changed so much as it had to be rebuilt several times,” commented Leister.
Other notable Milford fires include the 1952 fire of the home of Ruby and Maria Vale, located on the property which Milford’s City Hall now stands. Historical accounts state that three days after Christmas when the fire broke out, the weather was so cold that water froze in the hoses as the three story mansion was completely destroyed. Most recently, Milford residents remember the fire that took place the day after Christmas in 2012 that destroyed the three story building in the downtown district that housed Warren Furniture. The burnt out building has since been taken down and an empty lot on South Walnut Street is waiting for a purchaser for restoration.
An all volunteer organization, the men and women of Carlisle Fire Department are driven by their love of community and will continue to host fire prevention events throughout the year. The organization is currently accepting application for members in many different roles within the company. For more information individuals are encouraged to visit http://www.carlisle42.com.