The first piece of equipment
purchased by the
Milton Fire Company in 1901
Today we all live in a time of history. Throughout that history, Milton Fire Department has been there to help people in need. For the past 100 years that is just what the volunteers of this community have done. Whether its a natural disaster, rescue, accident, or fire, when the call came, Milton Emergency Volunteers responded. The seemingly quite town of Milton has had more than a fair share of history, excitement, and glamour before any fire department was formed. In the early days of this settlement when a house or building caught on fire, the citizens would remove all the items they could before the fire overwhelmed them. What they were doing was what we today call Salvage in the Fire Service.
Milton is a part of a 1,000 acre tract patented to James Gray on April 29. 1686. During the next 100 years there was very little settlement until the early 1800’s when lots were sold off and what is Milton now became the village known as Osborn’s Landing and Head of Broadkiln. On February 3, 1807, an act of the general assembly changed the name from Head of Broadkiln to Milton, in honor of the poet, John Milton who had settled here. In 1809 the assessment roles listed 4 stores and 7 granaries. Milton was a large shipping port sending out about 500,000 bushels annually. Before the heavy silt filled the Broadkiln Creek at the head where Milton is located, six vessels sailed regularly between Milton and Philadelphia and five others carried consignments of freight to New York. Tons of grain were shipped along with thousands of cords of wood. As you look at the door of the Milton Fire apparatus today, we remember our history by displaying what was Milton’s principal industry which was shipbuilding. The height of the industry was between 1861 and 1880 with the last three masted schooner being built in 1891. Milton’s schooners sailed all over the world.
History shows that during this time in history there were many fires that did take lives and property but still no organized fire department. Headline in the Wilmington Morning News 1881 the month of May, the smoke house or out kitchen as it was called of the J.H.B. Mustard was destroyed by fire on Sunday morning containing some of Mrs. Mustard’s best table and silverware. The structure was a used summer kitchen. On the evening before the fire, company visited the family and took tea, and these articles were taken out to be washed and left there. At 3 o’clock on Sunday morning the church bell rang and the call for HELP! FIRE! FIRE! rang out through the streets of Milton. Still no fire department.
Milton did have six practicing Physicians, four apprentice medical students and two busy drug stores. In October 1890 a cannery owned by J.B. Counselman of Houston, Delaware that had been built in 1884, caught fire and in short time was nothing but smoke and ashes. In 1891 the town’s people wanted a fire department and approached the town council. In October of 1891, George S. Hopkins, Chief of the Fire Department of Middletown, Delaware and a representative of the Fabric Fire Hose Company of New York City was summoned to town to speak to council about establishing a fire company in Milton. There was no interest by the sitting town council at that time.