Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

HFPD receives blast from past

Harvard Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Dan Danczyk holds the bugle that was recently returned to the department. The bugle was originally gifted to the department by citizens of Sharon, Wis., in 1884. HML photo by Marjie Reed

A treasure has been returned to the Harvard Fire Protection District by Victoria Hubbell, the granddaughter of Howard J. Ferris, who was one of the founders of Harvard’s Starline Building.

The treasure is shaped like a megaphone, but in the 1800s the pieces were referred to as bugles and sometimes as trumpets.

Two hundred years ago, bugles were as essential to the fire companies as ladders and hoses. Before the age of radios or intercoms, bugles were used by the fire chiefs to allow their orders to be heard by the firemen while fighting a fire.

On May 10, 1884, the area of downtown Sharon, Wis., caught fire, and, because of the valor of the Harvard fire department, half of Sharon was saved.

Thankful for the help of Harvard’s horse-drawn fire brigade, the town of Sharon had a silver bugle crafted and engraved as a thank-you gift. In addition to the inscription, many symbols of fire-fighting tools used in the 1800s are engraved on the bugle.

The inscription reads, “Presented to Harvard Fire Department by the citizens of Sharion (sic) for their timely aid in saving their town from total destruction on May 10th, 1884.”

“Today, the number of bugle symbols appearing on a firefighter’s collar and/or helmet signifies their rank,” Harvard Fire Protection District Chief Steve Harter said. “One bugle signifies lieutenant, two signifies captain, four signifies battalion chief, and five signifies chief.”

Ferris not only invented the Starline Pulley but invented items for the Harvard fire department.

“My family is delighted that the bugle has made its way home,” Victoria Hubbell said in an email. “It is a testimony of community spirit and good will.”

In showing his gratitude to the Hubbell family, Harter said, “I’m happy the bugle is back at the Harvard fire department. It’s part of our past, and I think it’s cool.”

Today’s Harvard Fire Protection District has 52 paid part-time firefighters, allowing the firehouse to be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.