Where did it all begin? In 1796 a group of concerned citizens met and organized for fire protection. Of course, fire protection at that time consists of leather buckets and a town bell to alert citizens of a fire in the community. The buckets and ladders were placed in five districts which comprised the town. Records in early years were poorly kept or nonexistent. We do know that the first known Chief was Edward Duffy, an honorary member of the Hope Hose and Steam Engine Company of Philadelphia in 1871 before he came to Lewes.
| 1911 American La France |
Reorganization occurred several times, and the name Lewes Volunteer Fire Company came into play in 1886. What is considered the modern era is 1923, when the company was incorporated under the direction of Chief G. Clifton Maull Sr. The year 1893 brought a horse-drawn chemical engine, followed by the first motorized apparatus in 1911 and the first motorized pumper in 1925. Another memorable year was 1931 when the department moved from the Lewes Town Hall and Fire House on Third and Chestnut Streets to 347 Savannah Road. In 1916 Fire Chief Ebe T. Lynch, longtime and beloved Fire Chief, was shot to death by a dentist, Dr. Parker. In 1942, Fire Chief and Sussex County Firemen's Association President W. Olva Prettyman died suddenly of a heart attack. The year 1945 brought all our Armed Services members home from World War II, weary, but safe from their efforts. In 1962 the department was in active service for six days as "The March Storm" brought the worst devastation in modern history to Lewes and the surrounding rural area. Members served for days without sleep.
| Lewes Firehouse 1933 |
New Year's Eve 1970 placed the department battling what is considered the worst fire in the company's history. Men and machines went up against fifty-mile-per-hour winds, snow, sleet, and rain to battle a fire in the business district that for several hours resembled photos from London during World War II. The men and machines won out in the end, but only after the fire had exacted a terrible price on stores and houses. Nine Lewes Firemen were injured in 1983 when on engine collided with another. Christmas Day 1983, again with fifty-mile-per-hour winds and a temperature of nine degrees, placed the department in service at Pilot Point on Lewes Beach. Windchill factors were thirty below as firemen and apparatus from fifteen communities raced to assist us in conditions that were not fit for man nor beast. What type of person leaves their family on Christmas Day, to go out in thirty-below windchill, get wet to climb a ladder with two inches of ice on it, to become so cold that they no longer have any feeling and are well into the danger zone, to hold a nozzle spraying water that encloses them like an ice cube, pass up Christmas dinner for a cup of cold coffee and an even colder ham sandwich? The answer is simple!! It is the men and women who comprise the membership of this two-hundred-year-old organization and every other volunteer fire department since the days of Ben Franklin. Since 1796 citizens of Lewes have stepped forward to join the ranks of the town's volunteer fire service. For two hundred years the ranks have been filled with men and women wanting to provide Service For Others.