Cecil County’s First Aerial Unit Arrived in Elkton in 1892

Following a couple of serious fires on Main Street in 1891 that forced Elkton to telegraph the Wilmington Fire Department for aid townspeople decided to establish an efficient firefighting organization.  In the waning months of that year, plans were quickly put in place for the William M. Singerly Fire Company and in January 1892 the organization was formally incorporated.  To put things on a sound footing, the members started raising funds to purchase equipment to replace those aging veterans of fights with many blazes, the aging old hand pumpers.  Before January 1892 faded the company had a steam engine, two hose reels, and a hook-and-ladder.

The ladder was the first piece of that kind in Cecil County.  Upon deciding to purchase this piece, the company went to Middletown and Dover to inspect units used in those Delaware towns.  That examination resulted in the company ordering a truck from Gleason & Bailey of Seneca Falls., NY.  It arrived in Elkton on Monday, January 18, 1892.

At an early hour on a Saturday morning twelve days later, the truck answered its first alarm.  Residents were awakened by the ringing of the courthouse bell and the cry of fire as the destructive flames were consuming a frame buildings on the south side of Main Street.  The volunteers grabbed the ladder unit and the old hand pumpers and rushed to the scene a few doors east of the courthouse.  The steam engine wasn’t in service yet.

After that the hook-and-ladder was on the scene of most blazes in Elkton but by the end of 1914 it had answered its last alarm.  On New Year’s Eve 1914, it was resting securely in the closed up paint shop of M. S. Barrett & Son on Bridge Street, waiting for a fresh coat of paint.  As people looked forward to the start of another year, shouts of fire went up.  A blaze had erupted in the paint shop and by the time Singerly arrived the building was blazing fiercely.  The entire building and its content were lost on the last day of 1914.

singerly fire785aa

Singerly’s ladder truck during a parade in 1902

The Gleason & Bailey ladder truck at the Volunteer Hose Company of Middletown DE

The ladder truck at the Volunteer Hose Company of Middletown DE


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