Elkton’s Old Fire Bell Tapped Out Many Alarms

The 118-year-old fire bell that stood watch over Elkton for decades, arousing firefighters from their slumbers in the dead of winter nights or calling them from their labors on hot summer days, remains an important part of Singerly Fire Company today.  For years this instrument, mounted in the belfry high atop the fire station, alerted volunteers when a blaze threatened the community.       

Cast by the C. S. Bell Co. of Hillsboro, Ohio, the 1,190 pound instrument was placed in its perch high above the engine room in the fall of 1893.   By 1910 things advanced as the company installed an electric gong.  When the operator at the telephone exchange received a fire call, she pushed a button activating the device. Once the first firefighter arrived at the station, he tugged on the rope striking the gong in the tower as that urgent tolling was heard all over town.    In time, the tapping out of calls for Elkton’s volunteers on the bell stopped as Singerly installed a modern fire whistle.

Sam Goldwater, a young firefighter in the early 1970s recalled helping put the instrument back into the spotlight.  It had been stored away for generations, but when the Newark Avenue station opened in 1970 Gene Meekins became interested in getting the ancient relic out of storage.  As part of the opening of the new firehouse, it was placed on a pedestal at an entrance to the station.  Later, in preparation for the 1976 Bicentennial, Mark Onifer, Bobby Holmes and Sam cleaned up the sentinel that had tapped out many urgent alerts, cleaning it up and giving it a fresh coat of paint.    

Although the bell was silenced once electronic alarm systems arrived, the Singerly Fire Company has made sure this relic from its past has been preserved.  The bell was last formally rung when the fire company celebrated its 100th anniversary.  Two former presidents, Jim Spry and Gary Storke, struck the gong causing the sound that once called Elkton firefighters to duty to ring out as the members gathered for the special celebration.

Former Singerly Presidents, Jim Spry & Gary Storke toll bell for the 100th anniverary of the fire company


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