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60 Firemen


Newport O., Has 60 Firemen

By Helen M. White

The Parkersburg News, Sunday, October 15, 1961

            Although Newport Twp., in Washington County, O., was organized in 1798, and early settlers established homes at that time in what is now the village of Newport, this settlement has never found the need to become incorporated.

            For 160 years of its existence, Newport residents depended on luck and buckets, available water and neighboring communities whenever fire broke out in their midst. 

            However, in 1958, the Men’s Civic Club of Newport began a drive to arouse local interest and to raise sufficient funds, both of which were necessary, in order to organize and establish a volunteer fire department in Newport.

            Dr. George Gale of Newport gave encouragement and impetus to the undertaking by donating a valuable piece of ground on which to build the fire station. 

            The fine, level land given by Dr. Gale fronts 80 feet on Rt. 7 and is 150 feet deep.

            The Newport Fire Station was built in 1959.  Heiby of Marietta had the contract for the shell of a 37 by 47-foot building to be constructed of 12-inch blocks.

            This contract included only the four walls, roof, windows, and doors for an approximate cost of $1500.

Members Build the Rest

            The members of the Newport Volunteer Fire Dept. donated their time and labor and completed the building, pouring the floors, installing the wiring, the plumbing, and all the inside trim and finishing.

“Our building alone,” said Fire Chief, Harold Lauer, “is valued at around $25,000 with another $20,000 worth of equipment.”

Having the fire department has reduced insurance rates for Newport residents and, “our next project,” Chief Lauer said, “will be to get a public water supply for our town.”

The Newport Fire Dept. has one 300-gallon pumper and one 1000-gallon tanker which, according to Lauer, is enough for most fires.

In addition to this, the department has maps showing the location of every cistern, pond, and stream in Newport Twp.

They also have similar maps for Lawrence and Independence Twps, with which the Newport Volunteer Fire Department has yearly contracts to answer all fire calls.

In addition, Newport has mutual agreements with all nearby fire departments.

            The members of the department built the tanker themselves but their pumper was obtained from the St. Marys Fire Dept. on most generous terms. 

            The first fire chief of Newport was David Edgar* who served one year.  Lauer, the third chief, is now serving his third term in office with assistant chiefs Earl Rouse, Paul Riggs, and David Riggs.

            James Perrine is president of the department and Mrs. Lucille Edgar is president of the Ladies Auxiliary, which, said Chief Lauer, has been a wonderful help to the department. 

            There are around 60 members on the roll with approximately 30 of them active.  The department has a regular meeting twice a month and a training meeting every Thursday.

            The Newport Volunteer Fire Dept. was host this year to the Washington County Fair School which is held each year for all volunteer fire departments in the county.

            Several times Chief Lauer commented on the wonderful help they had received from the St. Marys Fire Department in both money and encouragement.

            The friendly assistance Newport has received from their West Virginia neighbors in helping them get organized and equipped would be hard to evaluate.

            Since the establishment of the Newport Fire Dept., the only two major fires they have fought have been both in St. Marys—another example, it would seem, of the Biblical truth about casting bread upon the water. 

*First Fire Chief was Lynn Gibson. David Edgar was second. Correction courtesy of Greg Gibson