Sherburne History Center

Sherburne History Center
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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Clear Lake and Becker's Developing Fire Protection

Fire became a greater concern for Sherburne county, as the residents entered the 1900s.  As more and more fires destroyed more and more property, the communities responded to this growing challenge.  In the west part of the county, Clear Lake and Becker both acquired equipment and trained volunteers to move beyond the basic bucket brigade of earlier times.  Clear lake seemed to lead the way in organizing a fire department and acquiring equipment.  Becker learned from the example set in Clear Lake and used the lessons to improve its own system of firefighting.

The flaming destruction of the depot of the Great Northern Railway inspired Clear Lake to move into action and acquire firefighting equipment.  In March 1898, one year before the village of Clear Lake was incorporated, a call for volunteers resulted in the creation of a significant firefighting force.  Shortly afterwards, the community purchased a two-man fire cart.  Using soda and acid to create carbon dioxide, the chemical reaction forced water out of a tank, through a hose onto the fire.  The contraption sprayed water up to 50 feet.  The cart combined with the local bucket brigade to effectively fight fires in Clear Lake for many years.  In the 1930s, a Diamond T truck replaced the two-man cart.  The water and chemical tanks remained in use, mounted on the back of the truck.
Becker Fire, 1911.  Remanats of the
Brazee Bldg in foreground

Becker followed the footsteps of Clear Lake in creating a municipal fire protection plan.  Just three weeks after the Village of Becker incorporated in December 1904, the Village Council ordered the creation of a Fire Department.  Less than six months later, the Council purchased ladders, hooks, and other firefighting equipment.  In 1910, the Becker Council purchased a sixty-gallon chemical fire cart, very similar to the Clear Lake equipment. 

Both Clear Lake and Becker fire departments worked diligently to maintain excellence in performing their duties.  As early as 1907, Becker set a professional standard of paying fire wardens to inspect every chimney and stove pipe in the village.  That is not to suggest tragedy did not occur.  In 1911, near disaster hit Becker when fire worked through the village business district.  The fire destroyed several businesses in Becker, including the village town hall.  Yet, like the railway depot in Clear Lake, Becker rebuilt the town hall, and the fire departments continued to grow and provide protection to their communities.

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