2017 DuBois Community Days dates: June 16th and 17th, 2017
For more than 125 years, the DuBois Volunteer Fire Department has honorably served the City of DuBois, Pennsylvania. While the Fire Company existed as early as 1888, the Department’s duties, responsibilities and position were not defined until an ordinance was approved on February 3rd, 1941. This ordinance (Council Bill #715) structured the Fire Department and gave it the ability to obtain resources that theretofore had been unavailable. Today, the DuBois Volunteer Fire Company is known as one of the best First Responder organizations – volunteer or career – in the nation.
The Great Fire of 1888
During the early summer months of 1888 a disastrous event took place in the city of DuBois. It was a mid-afternoon of June 18 – a hot, breezy day – when smoke was seen billowing from the John Baker Hotel on West Long Avenue, presently the location of the B & O Freight House here in DuBois. There was an immediate response from the citizens to extinguish the raging fire. Men from the Union and Independent Fire Companies in DuBois were called to battle the blaze. It was a futile attempt as the breeze of that afternoon aided the fire’s progress. As it gained momentum, with the ever present aid of the wind, the flames managed to jump from building to building, and eventually from street to street.
Firefighting equipment of that period was inadequate for this type of blaze in comparison with today’s scientifically advanced apparatus. The Union and Independent Fire Companies were equipped only with hand drawn hose carts and a very small supply of hose. The raging fire made its way up Long Avenue and had engulfed the heart of the downtown business section of DuBois. At the same time it spread in every direction causing chaos to the already panic stricken townspeople. People scurried into their businesses to remove all the valuables they could before they were destroyed.
Toward the conclusion of the day the fire had exhausted itself after destroying nearly everything in its path. Had it not been for the diligent efforts of the firefighters to extinguish the fire the city would have been totally destroyed.
The effects of the fire were devastating; the city now was just a conglomeration of charred wood and rubble. Of the 166 businesses in downtown DuBois only 6 remained standing. As a result of the catastrophe, the city deemed it necessary to organize a more adequate firefighting service.