Abreviated History of The Southport Fire Department
The Southport Fire Department was organized October 2, 1895 following an arson fire that claimed $10,000 in damages to the warehouses of C.O. Jelliff and the lives of 4 horses trapped in a neighboring barn which also burned. It took nearly three hours for the villagers and the Fairfield Volunteer Hook & Ladder Co. to extinguish the blaze. Within two weeks there were already 23 members in newly formed department and they began the process of purchasing a Gleason & Bailey pump, 200 feet of hose, and a Hook & Ladder truck equipped with various length extension ladders.
In November of 1895, the Pequot Fire Company was formed by a number of men who were displeased with the way the Southport Fire Department was being run. The two departments co-existed in the village for five years and during that time developed a strong rivalry. In 1900 the Pequot Fire Company decided that it would be in the best interest of all concerned to consolidate the two departments. In April 1900 all assets of the Pequot Fire Company #1 were transferred to the Southport Fire Department and the Pequots slipped into non-existence.
In February 1896, the Southport Fire Department became the first in the state to own a steam pumper when the American Fire Engine Company in Seneca Falls, NY delivered a new Silsby Steamer to the village. The steamer held 25 gallons of water, 1500 feet of hose and when fully loaded weighed more than 5200 pounds. Sufficient energy could be generated to run the pump within 6 to 8 minutes of lighting the coal. It was housed at the original Fire House, situated on Railroad Avenue and when the present station house was dedicated in 1915, it was moved to it's new home.
By 1940 there were 160 members in the department and often took honors in celebrations for having the Best Drill Unit participating. World War II brought out the best in the Southport Fire Department. Besides handling the village fire fighting needs, it found its membership decreasing due to the enlistments of many of its members in the armed forces. Fifty Six members of the Southport Fire Department served in W.W.II, many were wounded and two were killed in action while fighting in Europe. The Department sent a newsletter to the servicemen to keep them updated on village events and the latest Department gossip.
With the introduction of paid fire-fighters in Southport, the number of active volunteers began to decrease. By the mid 1970's there was concern whether the Department could continue as an active volunteer fire fighting organization. In 1980, with donations from town residents and from the Fairfield Volunteer Hook & Ladder Co., a 4-wheel drive brush truck was purchased from Emergency One, in Ocala Florida. Membership continued to grow, and by 1994 there were forty active members and on the average, the volunteers were logging 13,000 hours annually.
Responding to a crisis is an ongoing process for the Southport Fire Department. In August 1995, ten members from the department were the first of three Connecticut departments to join 195 other volunteer fire departments to attack an out-of-control brush fire that devastated the east end of Long Island. The fire which began in the village of Westhampton Beach, damaged 10 homes and destroyed 600 acres before it was brought under control four days later by the efforts of more than 2000 fire fighters.