Berthoud Host Company No. 1

by Mark French
The town’s first fire-fighting team was known as Berthoud Hose Company No. 1. It was organized in May 1888 when Justice of the Peace Ed Willis presided over a meeting held in the “parlors over the post office.” Willis was the teacher at the Mars Hill country school one mile north of Berthoud. The post office was located in the Bowman, Day & Blackwell mercantile store at 549 3rd Street. Willis was elected temporary chairman of a committee appointed to work on a constitution and bylaws and determine the cost of hose and a hose cart.

At a meeting in June 1888, Matt Rowen was elected president; Willis, secretary; George Graham, foreman; Andy Fairbairn, assistant foreman; and H. Leary, second assistant foreman. It was also determined that the company would be out on parade and “be in good running order by July 4” when a grand ball was to be held on the second floor of the newly-constructed flour mill.

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It would not be until August 1889 that Berthoud Hose Company No. 1 would be formally organized and equipped with a hose carriage that had been purchased by the recently-incorporated Town of Berthoud.

Members of the hose company were initiated prior to service. To test lung power, candidates were required to blow through a hose suspended from the hose house tower and force 25 pounds of water to the top. To test hearing, they stood erect while a stream of water at full pressure was directed at one ear. To prove their legs were in running condition, they were hung by their feet for five minutes.