Back in the 1860's, Port Huron was protected from the ravages of fire by an organization known as the Eagle Hose Company. It was made up of a group of volunteers who were engaged in other various trades or businesses in the town but who responded to the alarm in case of fire. They were a group of stalwart young men who took great pride in their organization and their duties as fire fighters. In those days, it was considered a matter of community service to belong to this group whose activities were social as well as civic.
The Port Huron Fire Department is said to be among the first in the State of Michigan. The Sixth Ward Hose Company was duly organized October 20, 1875, under the name of "Deluge Hose".
In the year 1877, the volunteer company disbanded and the city installed a salaried part time fire department. These men were generally engaged in other occupations but slept in the engine houses and were ready for any emergency call.
In 1901, a full time department was installed. Then Fire Chief Frank J. Schaller recalled how, in the 1890's when he joined the department, two and three-horse hitches were used. "The horses were all in stalls at the rear of the house. It was a thrilling sight to watch those trained animals spring to their places under the harness in front of the carts at the sound of the alarm. Of course, the fire department always had the fastest horses obtainable and everything on the road gave way before them."
At that time, Engine Co.'s No 1 and 2 were equipped with hose wagons, chemicals and ladder wagons, all three-horse hitches, and No. 3, at the North End, had two-horse hitches. In 1904, an American LaFrance steam pumper was purchased. Up to this time, pressure was obtained from the pumping station of the city water department. Horses continued to be used in the fire department up until 1913, when the first motor-driven apparatus appeared on the city streets.
Hose Company No. 4, at South Park was added to the department about 1907.