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History of Tragic Fires in Clarksville, Tennessee By: Randy Rubel The Assembly of North Carolina established Clarksville in 1785 and Tennessee was admitted into the United States as the 16th state in 1796. As Clarksville grew there was a need for a town government with laws appropriate to the needs of the people. In August 1831, the city elected its first fire Captain to organize a fire company. As recorded in the Minutes of the Corporation of the City of Clarksville, the owner of each house on the square was ordered to furnish the building with two good fire buckets. The owners of residences in the remainder of the town were to furnish each with one bucket to be made of leather with the owners name plainly marked. On February 6, 1872, many of the young men came together and founded the Clarksville Hook and Ladder Company. They used a hand drawn “pumper” and a ladder wagon, which they used many years. The idea of using horses to pull the apparatus came many years later. The early newspapers tell of many devastating fires but it was the fire on April 13, 1878 that caught the city inhabitants by surprise and cost them dearly. This fire spread throughout the town burning everything in its path. When it was finally stopped, over thirteen acres of the downtown business district were lying in ruin. The fire destroyed the courthouse located on Franklin Street and the only two volunteer fire halls of the Hook and Ladder Company and the Deluge Fire Company #1. As late as 1887 the Clarksville Fire service was manned entirely by volunteers with the exception of a paid engineer. The fire chief at that time was Chief William Kleeman. He brought the motion to the city council to recommend the immediate purchase of horses to pull the fire apparatus to the fires. He was quoted as saying "the engines are too heavy to be pulled by the men up the steep hills." May 29, 1914 saw the delivery of the first motorized fire truck in the history of the fire department. The city finally entered into a new age of fire fighting. The first motorized fire truck of Clarksville The fire station on Third Street was decorated for the Sesquicentennial in this 1936 Celebration. We want to thank Randy Rubel who served honorably for 32 years in the Clarksville Fire Department.