Sweetwater Fire Department celebrates 105th anniversary

May 4, 2013 marks the 105th anniversary of the formation of the Sweetwater Fire Department. On May 4, 1908 two companies, Chemical Company No. 1 and Hose Company No. 1, came together and started the Sweetwater Volunteer Fire Department. Original charter members from both companies included Bud Brown (foreman), Tom Morris, Jess Hamby, Ed Wilkinson, Dan L. Childress (chief), Dr. A. Brann (foreman), Henry Moffett, D.B. Brown, and Eley Pate. Two more companies, Engine Company No. 1 and Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, were organized on March 2, 1914. Charter members for both were T.B. Thompson (foreman), Oscar Pate, Guy E. Morris, C.A. Engle, Jack Yarbrough, Ed Patterson (foreman), Chad Lewis and Whit Thompson.In 1926, a central fire station was built downtown at 321 Locust Street, along with a substation on the south side of town, located at 209 W. Alabama. The department also purchased a 1926 model hook and ladder fire truck that currently sits in the Pioneer City-County Museum. The primary reason for purchasing the $14,500 truck, according to former volunteer fireman Fred Forgay, was to give firemen a higher reach in case of a fire at the old Blue Bonnet Hotel — a seven story building later renamed the Baker Hotel. A fire did eventually break out on the top floor of the hotel 41 years later.Space at the Locust Street Station started becoming a problem, even after significant remodeling. The situation worsened further after taking on the ambulance service and hiring an accounting clerk.1994 marked the year the Sweetwater Fire Department moved into its current location at 900 E. Broadway. The move resulted in the closing of the Locust Street location as well as the north side location. The south side station closed years earlier in 1975. Sweetwater Fire Department Current EmployeesGrant Madden (Fire Chief, Paramedic)Richard Spradlin (Fire Marshal, Paramedic)Billy Villanueva (Training Officer, Paramedic)Richard Reeves (Assistant Chief A shift, EMT-1)Pat O’Neal (Firefighter, EMT-B)Eric Reed (Firefighter, Paramedic)Preston Peacock (Firefighter, EMT-B)Richard Acuna (Firefighter, EMT-1)Clinton McKeehan (Firefighter, EMT-B)Jeff Watts (Firefighter, Paramedic)Paul King (Assistant Chief B shift, EMT-1)Jeff Schoenfield (Firefighter, EMT-B)Ronald Stegge (Firefighter, EMT-1)James Smith (Firefighter, Paramedic)Nick Shaw (Firefighter, EMT-1)Evan Goodman (Firefighter, EMT-B)Seth Weston (Firefighter, Paramedic)Chris Kiser (Assistant Chief, C shift, Paramedic)Lance Campbell (Firefighter, Paramedic)Todd Donham (Firefighter, EMT-B)Jarrett Knowles (Firefighter, EMT-1)Brad Payne (Firefighter, EMT-B)Nick Barton (Firefighter, EMT-1)Derreck Ratcliff (Firefighter, Paramedic)