Orofino Rural Fire
While there were fire fighting efforts in the early history of Orofino, it was not until January 22, 1911 that a group of men met to formally begin the process of organizing a volunteer department. The history is recorded in the old fashioned, ornate hand of H.L. Walrath who acted as secretary. E.W. Jewell acted as chief as a few men were appointed to write a constitution and by-laws. A few days later the constitution and by-laws were approved and Jewell formally elected chief.
Fund raising was an important activity as it is today. The firemen planned their first ball and cleared just over $100 that first year. Following the ball a group of men was appointed to secure a building, install equipment and install a triangle alarm. By their March meeting these tasks had been completed.
Their gatherings were often as much social as training in the early days and meetings were followed by "banquets". New members were initiated into the group during a ceremony called "Tom Toolin". The firemen enjoyed boxing matches and an occasional cigar together. They even became involved in politics in 1919 with five men proposed on the "Firemen’s Ticket". In 1929, their dream of a new fire hall became a reality.
Over the years, the fire fighters have worked hard to raise money for equipment, trucks and other department needs through various activities including dances, breakfasts and Halloween entertainment. Early on, they set aside funds to aid members injured in fire fighting efforts. They also worked with city leaders to gain their support both in funds and other areas.
Today, the department has expanded to two stations, one downtown and one on Riverside behind the Clearwater National Forest Headquarters. They also have much more modern equipment, but the desire to assist others and be of help is still the driving force behind the efforts of these volunteers.