The village of North Muskegon was incorporated in April, 1881, and began its official existence in May, 1881, but a water works system was not provided for until the fall of 1884, no fire department until July, 1885.
In July, 1885, the Council authorized the purchase of two hand drawn hose carts, and two companies of 15 men each were organized with one company in each end of town. The No. 1 Hose Company was under the leadership of Captain William Thornton, and No. 2 Hose Company under Captain Robert Hoy. Hose Company No. 2 at a trial run got out the cart, ran one block, and laid 300 feet of hose in one minute and 28 seconds. At a fire in July, Company No. 2 ran four blocks and had a stream of water going in four and one half minutes.
Late in the year 1885, the council authorized the contract for a city fire alarm system which required two miles of wire and had six stations equipped with electric batteries to make it an electric system.
In July of 1889, a contract was approved with the J.J. Howden Co. Of Muskegon for 500 feet of hose and another hose cart. On Nov. 5, 1889, the Hovey and McCracken Mill and Lumber at the outlet of Bear Lake was completely destroyed and the P.P. Leonard and Hitchcock, and Merman and Gray’s docks and stocks of lumber and shingles were badly damaged. Muskegon sent over the steam fire engine “Pioneer” to help.
At the council meeting of Dec. 6, 1889, there was a warm discussion about disbanding the fire department and having a volunteer department. Many citizens were complaining that the department was too expensive. There was a strong suspicion that many fires, aside from a few large ones at mills, were set by men who were in need of some cash. In later years there was considerable talk about how some fires occurred just before there was to be a dance or party of some kind. As it was, money was scares and the men collected fees for working at the fires.
The present city hall was originally bought and used for a hose house. In 1910, when the building was put in use as a city hall, a shed was built on the west side to house a hand drawn cart. Lo and behold, this same shed still houses all the fire equipment of the City of North Muskegon.
In 1925, it was voted to discard the old hand cart, which North Muskegon obtained when it was discarded by the Muskegon Fire Department, and purchased a new fire truck from the Howe Fire Apparatus Co. The new fire truck was driven into the city at noon on Monday, Sept. 14, 1925.
During the year of 1928, a three and a half horsepower siren was installed at the suggestion of the Michigan Fire Insurance Bureau to avoid high insurance rates on account of the volunteer fire department.
In 1936, the old truck was sold to the village of Hillman and a new 500 gallon pumper, our present equipment, was placed in service, and with the water being supplied from the city of Muskegon, good fire protection was at last a reality.
Historian for County Museum and the City of North Muskegon
From the North Muskegon Volunteer Fire Department Second Annual Benefit Ball pamphlet, March 15, 1946.