In 1937, J.H. Risius and Harold Hartson took a Model “A”
truck chassis and purchased a cylindrical 500-gallon tank, mounted it on the truck, installed a pump, connected it to the
power take off and added a couple wooden ladders. This became Brownsdale’s first fire truck which was in service until
In 1945, Brownsdale Mayor Vietor appointed Richard Tricker as Fire
Chief and eight men, who in turn picked eleven more to complete a twenty man department.
In 1948, enough money had been raised to purchase a 1948 International
KB5 and had Minnesota Fire Equipment in Madelia install a pump to the chassis and fire fighting equipment.
In 1952, a 1000 gallon water tank was built by Harold Pollock and
mounted on a used Ford truck. After that a Metro van was added as an equipment truck.
In 1968, a new GMC was purchased and sent to Tipton Indiana, where
a new high pressure John Bean fog nozzle was mounted. Three department members flew to Tipton for two days training. The three
men drove the new truck home after the training.
In 1980, the department purchased a John Bean pumper truck mounted
on a Ford Chasis.
Finally, in 2003 the department purchased the new 2003 Pierce Contender
which is in use today.
The department has been served by many chiefs over
the years. The first was J.H. Risius who served until 1945. Risius was followed by, Richard Tricker, Leo Senst, George Donavon,
Kenneth Hitzemann, and Mert Jenson.
After that the department was lead by, Don Foster, Ernest Nelson,
Phil Hatten, and Curt Unverzagt. Currently the Fire Chief is David Pike.
Fires of Historical Significance
On November 4, 1904 a fire started in the H.A Brown machine shop
and caused $25,000 worth of damage. The property was left in ashes. Numerous other business were damaged in the fire. They
were: Sleeper and Son, Thompson and Skogen Hardware, Rockwell Building, Warren Groceries and H.A. Brown Machine Shop.
On January 28, 1949 a fire driven by high winds did an estimated
$25,000 damage as it leveled three buildings in the Brownsdale business section. The fire started in a warehouse owned by
Harold Hartson, produce operator. The fire spread north and leveled a garage owned by Otto Klingsheim and finally spread to
the Hartson Produce office and egg handling building.
On February 8, 1963 a fire destroyed J.H Risius Motor Sales,
causing an estimated $47,000 damage. It is believed that the fire was started by an explosion in an overhead gas heater. The
fire spread through the building.