Aurora is a historic river town that is situated 35 miles west of Cincinnati, Ohio, located in the Southeast corner of Indiana. Aurora was settled in the early 1800's and incorporated in 1845 and has strong historic connections to the Ohio River. Aurora is full of unique and historic buildings that preserve its older rivercity characteristics.
Aurora Fire Department
Located at: 5950 Dutch Hollow Rd.
*Dial 911 for Emergencies*
Message from the Chief
Welcome to our website. There is a lot of information about the members of the department and the things that we do in the community to be found here. Over the years we have had many people tirelessly contribute to lives of the citizens of the City of Aurora, Center Township and Washington Township. As the Fire Chief I am extremely grateful to our members for there efforts. We strive daily to do our best to protect the public. We work hard at preparing for the next disaster and assuring that our bodies and our equipment are ready to respond at a moments notice. Please look through our website and if you can’t find something or have an idea for an improvement let us know.
The members of this department have always stood above the crowd. The commitment, dedication and innovative concepts and ideas have always helped to keep this department ahead of the rest. If you would like to be a member of our fire fighting family, please complete the membership form or call us at 812-926-1682.
As always we sincerely thank you for your appreciation and support.
Jeffery Allen Lane
History of the Department
Prior to 1876, the citizens of Aurora protected property from fire with civilian bucket brigades formed between the water source and the fire. The water source varied from wells, cisterns, ponds or the river. Even with the valiant effort these residents put forth, it was almost always a total loss due to the wood frame construction, including wood roofing materials and wood lathed plaster interior walls. As these materials aged and dried out, they became highly flammable. Fire prevention was unheard of at that time.
It was back in 1876 that the Aurora city officials purchased the first steam engine pumper from Ahrens & Company, of Cincinnati, Ohio to supplement the bucket brigades, and in that same year the first Volunteer Fire Department was organized by Captain H.P. Spaeth, with Edwin Trester as the first Fire Chief. The single cylinder steam engine was purchased on a subscription plan, whereby the firemen of the new fire company solicited the first down payment of one-third of the purchase price, and the city paid the balance. It was reasonably certain that Thomas Gaff, pioneer distiller of Aurora, was the most outspoken supporter and financial contributor, as the Aurora Number 1 was appropriately named "THOMAS GAFF" and a brass nameplate was made and placed on the steam exhaust stack of the engine. The Thomas Gaff established a world steam engine record of pumping continuously for seventy-two straight hours on the Crescent Brewery fire at the turn of the century.
On June 25th, 1894 Mayor William S. Holman and the city council approved a contract presented by Alexander Potter and A. Prescott Folwell, to construct a public water works system in Aurora. This contract included specifications for the wells, excavations, pipe, reservoir, etc. Work started on the new system later that year, however, it can be assumed that a local company had been formed to supervise and operate the plant, under the direction of D.J. Hauss. The construction ran from 1894 to 1903 according to records of the Indiana Gas and Water Co., the owners at the time the system was placed in full operation in Aurora for both residential household use and fire protection. In about 1895, a late model two-cylinder steam fire engine was purchased when the Honorable George E. Downey was mayor of Aurora. This pumper was equipped with a brass nameplate labeled "AURORA". These two steam pumpers did a splendid job during fires in Aurora and surrounding communities, pumping water from large fire cisterns which were located in the business section and other sections of town. These cisterns were kept filled by hauling water from the river in large two-horse sprinkler tank wagons, whose primary function was to sprinkle water on the dirt streets to settle dust during the summer until 1907, when the city water works could adequately supply the volume and pressure of water needed for fire protection. Due to the efficiency of the new water works system, on September 27, 1904, the city dispensed with the steam fire engine engineers and their responsibilities of pumping water at fire scenes, bringing a new era of fire protection to the community of Aurora. The two steam pumpers were kept around as backup equipment until 1907.
The Thomas Gaff came to the end of its service around the 1907. For many years after, this pumper was stored in the old round building in the Aurora City Park, off Park Avenue. It was then sold to Dolph Holler, who owned a junk yard in Aurora, where it sat until the 1940's. The THOMAS GAFF was finally scrapped out during the World War II metal recycling drive in the 1940's. Earl Huffman salvaged the brass nameplate off the Thomas Gaff and presented it to Aurora Fire Company 1, where it remains today. The two-cylinder Aurora pumper was also destined for a junk yard, but it will be discussed further in later sections of this document. With the removal of the steam engine pumpers, the fire horses remained in service, pulling the hose wagon and the ladder wagon as well as pulling the two-wheel carts used for daily garbage collection. However, the horse teams were also destined to become a part of history.
In the city record book Number 11, page 475, a recorded communication to the City Council from D.J. Hauss, dated January 9, 1906, which reads in part, "The Indiana Public Service Company has purchased from the City of Aurora Water Company all the property rights, franchises, and contracts, and from T.K. and C.H. Condit all of their rights, interests, contracts, and frachises heretofore granted to him for furnishing Aurora and the citizens with water, light and power, and that it has received the proper assignments, transfers, and deeds to the same.", signed R.W. Nelson, President, O.M. Hubbartt, Secretary. With the organization of the first Aurora Fire Company 1 in 1876, the fire bell was purchased primarily with funds provided by local businessman Thomas Gaff. In acquiring the new steam engine , a suitable location for a fire station was needed, and Thomas Gaff made this possible in the distillery building on Importing Street. On January 19, 1877, the first fire bell was purchased and erected on the top of the Gaff Building, which was the first Aurora Fire House. At the regular meeting of the City Council on November 5, 1886, the bid of Louis Dreite for $8,499.00 was accepted and a contract was let for the construction of a new city building, firehouse and city jail at 218 Third Street, approved by William C. Henry, Mayor of Aurora. The building was completed and turned over to the city on October 21, 1887, however, the original bid had been altered due to the construction of the fire bell tower to raise the bell to an effective height. This had not been in the original contract. Final price of the city building was $9,317.50.
The original fire bell must have not proved to be effective, because the city council records reflect that on March 19,1880, council approved the purchase of a fire bell from the firm of Van Duzen and Tift for the price of $375.00. This bell cracked and was replaced by another in the tower. The city council chambers was moved into the new building, above the fire station and remains there today. On September 9, 1952 the old fire bell was removed from service and a new electric fire siren was tested and placed in service. The siren was paid for by the firemen of Aurora Company 1, but the city later repaid the firemen and became the owner of the new siren. It is located on top of the old fire bell tower on the Third Street city building. The fire bell was removed from service and now hangs as a memorial to honorary and fallen Aurora firefighters in front of the same city building on Third Street.
On a motion by councilman and later mayor Frank Green in 1918, a contract was let to the Prospect Manufacturing Company of Prospect, Ohio for the first motorized fire apparatus for Aurora. It was a model "T" Ford truck chassis, with hose bed, ladders and a 40-gallon chemical tank with 140 of 3/4 inch chemical hose. The first small hose line ever to be used in the Aurora fire service. D.B. Teaney was mayor at that time, and the cost was $2000.00. Its first run was for a roof fire at the J.C. Wright residence at 122 W. Conwell Street where it proved its worth. Seven years later in 1925, Capt. Conway of the Cincinnati Salvage Corps was asked to advise the city council on the type of motor pumping apparatus was best for the city. His advise was to purchase a 750 gallon per minute pump that would boost the boost the natural water works pressure in certain areas of town where water pressure was low. The result of that recommendation was the purchase of a White 3/4-ton chassis with a Hale rotary pump and a 35-gallon chemical tank, hose bed, ladders and other fire fighting equipment of that period. This was purchased from the Boyer Fire Apparatus Company of Logansport, Indiana. Dr. Edward J. Libbert was mayor at that time.
In 1926, the Ford Model T was given to Aurora Fire Company 2 located in the west Aurora area known as Cochran. Due to a wreck or some other reason, the Model T frame was equipped with a 1926 Chevrolet body and the original hose and tank were reinstalled on the new body. This vehicle stayed in the City of Aurora and was in service until the 1940's, when it began to be used as a hose tender at large fires. It was in Aurora until 1960, when it was purchased by an individual. This vehicle is for sale again, and the AVFD is asking for a grant to return the truck to Aurora as a museum piece. Dr. Edward J. Libbert was mayor at that time.
The White pumper was in service for fifteen years and on January 1st, 1940, it wasreplaced by a used Ahrens-Fox 1000 gallon per minute pumper which was purchased from Ahrens-Fox Fire Engine Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. This was the first fire truck to carry a water tank and used a booster line instead of a large chemical tank. Harry C. Watts was mayor at the time of this purchase. With the purchase of the Ahrens-Fox pumper, the old White apparatus was given to Aurora Fire Company 2. On January 6, 1945, a used aerial ladder arrived in Aurora, costing over $1000.00, and was paid for by public subscription. The truck for the aerial ladder was donated by Gilbert Speckman, local automobile dealer. It was never placed in active fire service, but was used by the fire department for tasks like setting up banners and Christmas lights and other odd jobs.
On May 23, 1949, the city council and Mayor Lance Booher purchased a Federal brand fire engine. This truck was the first apparatus in Aurora to carry a water tank with enough capacity to extinguish a large fire. It had two hose reels of 3/4 inch booster lines and carried both 1 1/2 inch and 2 1/2 inch hose. The used Ahrens-Fox pumper was traded in on this new Federal fire engine. The Federal was in service until 1975 and was then donated to the Aurora Utilities who fully restored the apparatus. The Federal still appears in the annual Aurora Farmers Fair parade. In 1959 , the city ordered an American Lafrance pumper known as the Quad. It was purchased from the American Lafrance Fire Engine Company, Elmira, NY for $31,000.00. The Quad was delivered to Aurora on February 2nd, 1960. It would operate in conjunction with the Federal for 15 years. This particular truck was extremely long and unlike most American Lafrance trucks of that era, it had a covered rear seating area. Although not heated, this did shield the firemen from the weather.
The Quad was sold in 1990 to Mr. Bill Yelton, who in turn sold the truck at an auction. The current owner did not know what state the vehicle originated, but was passing through Auora, Indiana in 1996. He saw Aurora and Fire Chief Dana Cotton who gave him some additional articles from the truck, including the large bell on the front bumper. In July of 1960, the Stier and Williams Funeral home donated their 1947 Cadillac ambulance to the fire department to replace an old Chevrolet unit. This was used on emergency calls until the current Aurora Life Squad was formed .
ISO Fire Protection Classification Upgrade
Aurora's Fire Suppression System Classification was recently upgraded by the Insurance Service Office.
To learn more Click Here
To check out some images and learn some more information about the machines we use to protect out community check out the links below:
Active Members of the Department
- Mike Berry
- Todd Biedenharn
- Mike Chappell
- Mike Childs
- Kende Davis Sr.
- Donnie Dick
- Brad Disbro
- Wendle Disbro
- Rick Grubbs
- Jerry Kinnett
- Joe Milish
- Rick Orcutt
- Jason Richardson
- Scott Schaefer
- Ernie Theetge
- Donnie Thompson
- Chris Turner
- Keith Bradley
Fire Training Events
Grain Bin Rescue/Extraction Training
Informational Resources & Other Links
View Open Burning Regulations - Click Here
Indiana Fire Trucks Website - indianafiretrucks.com
Bright Fire Department Website - brightfd.org
Dillsboro Volunteer Fire Department Website - Dillsboro Fire Department Website
Greendale Fire Department Website - greendalefire.com
Lawrenceburg Fire Department Website - Lawrenceburg Fire Department Website
Lawrenceburg Emergency Rescue Unit Website - lawrenceburgems.com
Miller-York Volunteer Fire Department Website - milleryorkvfd.com