Wondering where the historic fire bell at the Saline Area Fire Department went?
The fire bell was installed in in a cupola top the Wallace block in 1887 – six years after a fire decimated nearly an entire city block at the four corners. Until 1931, the bell alerted the fire department and community of fires and other disasters. It was replaced by a siren in 1931.
Since 1993, the fire bell has been featured, first at Curtiss Park and more recently at the fire hall, to show people how the community reacted to emergencies in the days before telephones and radios. Last year, the fire bell was removed from its place outside the fire house because the wooden timbers it stood on began to rot.
Local Boy Scout Eric Dahlgren, of Troop 416, is in the middle of a project to return the bell to its rightful place. Dahlgren, a Clinton High School senior, is building a new home for the fire bell. Saturday, he and 12 helpers were busy laying down a concrete slab to house the bell.
“We were originally going to dig down and put posts into the ground but with all the clay, it’s tough to dig there, and so close to the building, we were concerned about wires and pipes,” said Dahlgren, who is working on his Eagle Scout ranking. “We moved to a slab on top that will be one, big concrete piece to keep it from moving around. The bell will be anchored to the concrete with brackets that will hold the posts.”
The bell will sit on stained cedar posts.
Dahlgren said they’ll put mulch and a small fence around the fire bell to beautify the area.
Donations and discounts were provided by Chelsea Lumber, Ace Hardware and several individuals.
Fire Chief Craig Hoeft is looking forward to seeing the fire bell in front of the fire house again.
“A lot of people stop and look at it. It’s a nice educational piece and a part of our history,” Hoeft said. “The fire bell used to be uptown. When there was a fire, they used the bell to call everyone in.”
This isn’t the first time the Saline Area Fire Department has benefited from the work of the Boy Scouts. A few years ago, the display sign in front of the fire hall was rebuilt by a Boy Scout. Throughout the town, one can see the results of the work of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Chief Hoeft said he appreciated their work.
“It’s great. The Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, 4H, they’re still around, and were fortunate to have them, but I always worry they’re in danger of going away. They do a lot of good for the community,” Hoeft said.