1895, citizens of Bromley established a volunteer fire department. This
organization was the result of a destructive fire that occurred in October
of that same year. A building owned by Mayor Henry Hackstadt on Main
Street caught fire. The building was being rented at the time by Highhouse
& Hilker for use as a grocery and saloon. The large frame structure
burnt quickly before the fire had been discovered. Bromley citizens
formed a bucket brigade, but had little success in extinguishing the
flames. The building was totally destroyed along with the inventory
of the grocery and saloon. The need for a fire department was readily
apparent. The new department soon folded due to lack of interest.
A more disastrous fire in 1900 resulted in the establishment of a permanent
fire department. A fire, started in the home of Zachariah Harris on
Pike Street, spread quickly to seven other homes and businesses. These
buildings included a saloon owned by John Highhouse, the L.P. Miller
Grocery, and the homes of Jack Lantry, Robert Poppin and William Schaeffer.
All eight buildings were destroyed. The citizens of the city met on
October 5, 1900 and established a new fire department. Mr. Joe Buck
was elected the first fire chief. The initial membership of the department
totaled 37. The Bromley Volunteer Fire Department has existed ever since.
In the years before World War I, the citizens of Bromley dedicated themselves
to securing water lines to their community. Voters passed a $4,000 bond
issue and construction on the mains began in 1914. The introduction
of running water greatly increased the effectiveness of the fire department.
Several members of the department were charged with the duty of raising
donations to purchase equipment in 1900. The department also sponsored
a grand ball to raise funds. By the end of the year, the members had set
up a small clubroom in the town hall on Boone Street. The rules for the
clubroom forbade swearing, gambling and spitting. In March 1901 it was
found necessary to purchase three cuspidors for the clubroom.
The first large fire to be fought by the new company was in January 1902.
Three buildings belonging to C.H. Crigler on Pike street were destroyed.
These buildings included the post office, a barn and a small cottage.
A defective flue caused the fire. The total loss was $2,625.
The department was also a very active social group. The clubroom was fitted
with furniture for relaxation. Recreational activities included baseball
games and a punching bag. The department sponsored dances that not only
raised money for the organization, but also drew the community together.
Bromley's small tax base made raising money for the department difficult.
Fundraising activities became commonplace. As early as 1916, department
members began holding street fairs in the community. Over time, these
fairs drew large crowds to the community and allowed the department to
purchase new equipment.
The small number of fires in the city led to complacency of the department
in the early 1920s. Renewed interest, however, emerged in 1924, when the
department was reorganized. Two years later, the department installed
a 300-pound bell at the city hall to call volunteers for fire runs. The
bell was purchased with donations from the residents. In 1927, the department
established a band. Director John Heist had his work cut out for him,
not one of the 14 members played a musical instrument.
One of the largest fires fought by the department occurred in 1944 at
the Standard Oil Company a few miles beyond the city limits. On the evening
of August 10, a fire was started at the station pump house. The fire spread
quickly to the transformers, tool house, and office building. The lines
leading to the five gasoline storage tanks also were ablaze. Periodic
gasoline explosions sent flames 200 feet into the air. A total of six
departments fought the blaze: Bromley, Ludlow, Elsmere, Covington, South
Fort Mitchell and Cincinnati. Bromley Chief Eli Gibson had charge of the
operation. Water was obtained from the city water supply and the Ludlow
Lagoon Lake. A relay system was set up to get the water from the lake
to the fire. Two pumpers were stationed at the lake with an addition two
pumpers half way between the lake and the fire. Bromley firefighters were
at the scene for 36 hours.
In 1961, voters passed another bond issue to renovate the combination
city hall/firehouse. Work was completed in time for the dedication on
December 1, 1963. By 1999, the old building was again showing signs of
deterioration. Structural weaknesses in the floor of the firehouse bay
on the east side of the building resulted in the fire department storing
their trucks with the Crescent Springs and Ludlow departments. City officials
decided to construct a new bay for the fire department on the west side
of city hall. The bids for the project amounted to $135,000. The new bay
was completed in 2001.
Kentucky Post, October 16, 1895, p. 8, July 13, 1914, p. 3, December
27, 1924, p. 1, December 31, 1924, p. 1, July 25, 1928, p. 3, April 21,
1999, August 11, 1944, p. 1, August 13, 1945, p. 2k, May 24, 1999, p.
4k and June 5, 2000, p. 4k