MUSKOGEE FIRE DEPARTMENT HISTORY

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The Muskogee Fire Department is a historic department, serving the citizens of Muskogee and surrounding communities for over 100 years. Muskogee first organized as a department in 1895. It was staffed by twenty volunteer firemen. Charles Seeking was Muskogee's first Fire Chief. Frank Swift and John G. Lieger were foremen of the first two hose brigades. 

Local merchants purchased and presented to the department it's first hook and ladder wagon, however, they didn't provide the department with a pumping apparatus. On February 23, 1899, Muskogee experienced the most destructive fire in it's history. Flames fed by sixty mile per hour winds, raged, consuming the main fire district. Everything within the area, which ran from Broadway to Court between 2nd Street and the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad tracks, was destroyed by the fire. 

The fire was said to have started when a man in a cleaning plant attempted to light a fire with kerosene. At that time the city had only two fire plugs. No lives were lost as a result of the fire and only one fireman was injured. 

After the 1899 fire, the merchants realized the importance of a well trained and equiped fire department and started working towards that goal. In 1906 the city hired it's first full time fireman. He was Chief John Templeton. Chief Templeton came from Cedar Rapids, Iowa where he had also served as Chief. Chief Templeton was reported to be a man of highest honor and integrity having worked with many civic organizations. He was a major contributor to the Bacone Museum but his greatest love was the Boy Scouts. Chief Templeton served until his retirement in 1914. 

Pat Byrne, Muskogee's first Mayor, purchased out of his own pocket, Muskogee's first pumpng apparatus. It was a horse drawn steam engine. Today it is referred to as the Byrne's Steamer. The Byrne's steamer served the Muskogee Fire Department for several years until the department up graded to pumping trucks. The steamer was then donated to the Fire Department at Stillwater where it was used for many years. They donated it to The Oklahoma Fire Fighters Museum in Oklahoma City, where to this day is one of their premier attractions.