In a town of 500 or so people, it’s easy to tell when something goes a foul. But after 1947, "the year that Maine burned", Brooklin decided it wasn't wise to leave it to chance.
Living in a fairly remote, little town, you learn to take care of yourself. You watch the seasons, you watch the weather, and you plan accordingly. Risks aren't endeavored without forethought and protocols, in case of emergency. These protocols aren't written by academics in lofty towers, or researched in labs. They’re hard won lessons, earned over generations, and put to the test by nature.
Almost more important than knowing how to take care of yourself, you learn to take care of each other, because individuals are only as strong as their community. And the help of a neighbor is worth its weight in just about any commodity you can think of.
In the words of C.A. Williams', Brooklin’s first Fire Chief, "The first step was the formation of a 'patrol system.' This consisted of a group of volunteers pledging themselves, cars, etc., to patrol the highways and, where accessible, private roads, during the critically dry periods. Indian pumps, shovels, pails, etc., were carried by each team to be ready to combat a fire, should one be discovered. The patrol gave comfort and confidence to the people, and started them thinking about a volunteer fire department."
In 1948, the annual town report documents that $3,000 was raised for fire equipment, and $1,000 for a firehouse. According to a document written by Williams, the Selectmen appointed a five-man committee. A one and a half ton Chevrolet long, wheelbase chassis was purchased, and a 500 gallon tank was installed on it (along with various other necessary implements). Chief Williams writes that Charles Weber donated a Pacific portable pumper, thereby giving greater flexibility to the truck apparatus. The old Hearse house was donated by the town, moved to land lent by the congregation of the First Baptist Church, and rebuilt by Granville "Cap" Philips. The first company consisted of Chief C.A. Williams, three Assistant Chiefs, and a team of Firemen, and responded to 19 calls their first year.
Bam. The Brooklin Volunteer Fire Department was born. Neighbors helping neighbors. And it didn't slow down from there.
With each year, more money was allocated, more infrastructure was laid in place, more equipment was procured, more volunteers joined, more experience was garnered. And to this day, it keeps growing. Its list of accomplishments a humble testament to the community’s dedication to our wellbeing.
The Brooklin Volunteer Fire Department, now in its 71st year, can claim a lineage that is generations deep, with sons of the fathers' fathers, daughters of mothers’ mothers, still on its roster to this day – devoted men and women taking time away from their full time jobs (more than likely, multiple full time jobs), and families, and long to do lists that never diminish over time, but continuously rotate as the seasons roll through.
Thanks to the Founding Fathers of the Brooklin Volunteer Fire Department: Charles Williams, Rayford McFarland, Howard Pervear, Henry Smith, Albert Anderson, George Bent, Elmer Bent, Harry Bridges, Earl Kane, William Henderson, Raymond Mansfield, Ronald Grey, Carlton Gray, Belford Gray, Kenneth Williams, Wildred Conary, Howard Tyler, Henry Allen, William Young and Laurence Cole, and thanks to all those past and present, our commitment endures.