Mapleton's History - Welby Warren
Contributor: finnsh Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
First responders remember Mapleton's history
Fifty years ago, Mapleton opened its first fire station with Douglas Bills as chief of the department. Last Saturday, two of his sons were there to celebrate the opening of Mapleton’s new 27,000-square-foot public safety building, a far cry from the old days.
Dick Bills, Mac Bills and another member of Mapleton’s original volunteer fire department, Roger Evans, discussed their memories of working as firefighters in Mapleton while viewing the new facility. They talked about the trucks they had then: one built from an old Ford truck chassis from Hill Air Force Base that was the basis of the fire truck, and an old Springville fire department truck. Johnny Bleggi also brought back a LaFrance truck from Elmira, New York.
They ran the ambulance service, ploughed snow, went to wrecks and did first aid. They were the first responders.
Mac Bills remembered when Welby Warren’s house burned after a homemade food dryer caught fire, and they all remembered the diving accident that left Wendall Johnson, later a much-loved mayor of Mapleton, in a wheelchair.
About three houses in Mapleton had a switch to turn on the fire siren: those of Roger Evans, Mac Bills and Ida Diamond. People used to think it was the siren for farmers to come in for lunch, but it was turned on for fire meetings on Tuesday. Three generations of the Bills family have served the department with a grandson now on the ambulance crew. Roger Evans served for 25 years.
They agree they don’t miss the midnight runs. Dick Bills remembered one time when Evans showed up at a fire with mismatched shoes and told them it was okay, he had another pair just like them at home.