Madison's Fire Department
Early Madison had little in the way of fire protection except a few willing volunteers. The
first attempt at giving direction to fire fighting and prevention came when Madison was
incorporated as a village in 1846. Fire Wardens were appointed and an ordinance was passed
requiring all owners of a building in which fires were kept to have buckets in a convenient
When Madison became a city in 1856 the city charter authorized the formation of three volunteer
companies; Fire Engine, Hook and Ladder, and Hose. Each company composed of up to 70 men
between the ages of fifteen and fifty years. To encourage volunteers, the Charter exempted
them "from highway work, poll tax, from serving on juries, and from military duty during the
continuance of such memberships".
A year later the first two fire houses were built,
Central fire house at 10 S. Webster St., was purchased from Billings Plow Works in 1881, and
remained in use until 1904 when it became the police department "barns".
In 1901 Madison hired 16 full time firefighters and for the first time didnít have to depend
on all volunteers. In 1908 the City of Madison Fire Department becomes a fully paid department.