Fire Department needs more evidence for world record

The Manistee Fire Department has continuously served the area for 128 years without hesitation. (Ashlyn Korienek/ News Advocate)

The Manistee Fire Department has continuously served the area for 129 years. (Ashlyn Korienek/ News Advocate)

MANISTEE — The Manistee Fire Department is asking for public assistance to obtain a Guinness World Record. If granted, it would put Manistee on the map for the “Oldest Continuously Manned Operating Fire Station.”

Manistee’s fire station has deep historical roots in the community, serving the area for 129 years. The current fire station, which is located at 281 First St., is the oldest continuously operated station in Michigan.

Now, the fire department is working for the title of “Oldest Continuously Manned Operating Fire Station,” but Fred LaPoint, Manistee Fire Department official, who is heading the initiative, said this has not been a simple process.

After years of gathering data, photographs and any documented proof, LaPoint said they are nearing the end of the process, but are in need of help from the public.

He said they are seeking additional evidence of “continuously manned” operation from the public.

“I am trying to accommodate these additional requirements, but I will take any kind of help I can get with any additional documentation, pictures or letters,” said LaPoint. “We will take anything from the start date on up.”

Those in the public are asked to submit any evidence to the Manistee Fire Department in the coming weeks — from the station’s start in 1889 until present day — of a relative, friend, acquaintance or even oneself, who has worked at the station.

LaPoint said this could include correspondence of any type; photographs; letters; newspaper clippings; a signed letter (preferably in blue ink) contesting that an individual has worked at the station during a certain time frame; or any other documented proof.

Photocopies of documents are accepted.

Submissions should include a time frame, names, and any other details about the station or past work completed by former or current crew members.

History

The Manistee Fire Hall was first constructed by Fredrick Hollister, of Saginaw, in 1888, but was not operational until July of 1889. It was granted the title of the oldest, continuously active fire station in the State of Michigan in 1989, during its 100th birthday recognition.

The first ever fire truck was a horse-drawn steam engine, which was brought from the original hall built in 1869 at 67 Filer St. — relocated due to growth of the city in the ’70s and ’80s.

After the “Great Fire of 1871,” the city suffered a significant loss and the fire hall needed to be replaced — the city’s first steam engine was even destroyed. The city decided to appoint a full-time fire department.

“At the time, the station was built at the location it is today,” LaPoint said. “It was converted from a conscript fire department (when it was first approved by city council in 1888). Previous to 1873, the city recognized the fire department in late 1969. They also created a fire commission at that time.”

The current fire hall has seen few changes in the structure itself since it was first built.

Application process

LaPoint had a vision to apply for this record nearly 10 years ago.

For the past few years, LaPoint said he has been in the process of gathering data, photos and documents for the application.

In the fall of 2017, the department submitted more than 50 pages to Guinness, with various photos and past documents, and a video created by Brian Veine, outlining the history and current state of the station.

By the spring of 2018, Veine and his film students at Manistee High School created additional video proof, and LaPoint added other required documentation, before soon resubmitting the application.

At the time, it was said results could take up to 15 weeks. Now, LaPoint said more evidence has been requested by Guinness representatives.

“I have all kinds of documentation I already sent in,” said LaPoint. “They want more proof that it has been manned continuously from June 1889 up to present day.”

Next step

While LaPoint retires next year, he said his dream would be to obtain the title before then.

“I would love to have this done for the people of Manistee before I retire,” he said. “My desire, I will have been here for 40 years on March 26, 2019, and July 1 is my anticipated retirement. I would really, really like to have that title in hand, prior to leaving.”

In order to qualify, the fire department must be active 24/7; and be in continuous use, which is defined as “inhabiting the same space within a building for the entire duration of time, without significant gaps.”

Several rules are outlined by Guinness World Records officials including that the fire station must have no gaps in use longer than one year; evidence showing it’s the same station originally founded; station history; proof of age, origin and other details; and major renovations must be outlined by professional sources.

For now, LaPoint said he plans to collect any forthcoming submissions from the public, and whatever else he can find, then resubmit an updated report to Guinness.

“Just the fact that a person knew someone who worked there, like their grandfather or whatever, if they could sign some kind of letter that would help,” said LaPoint. “That’s really the only thing we have left to do. I think we’ve more than met the other criteria.”

At this time, there is no indication of how long this process will take.

“Right now, I have a lot of information that goes back to the 1950s,” said LaPoint. “I am also going to resubmit the State of Michigan designation.”

All materials should be delivered in person to the Manistee Fire Department at 281 First St., by mail to 70 Maple St., Manistee, MI 49660, or emailed to LaPoint at flapoint@manisteemi.gov. For more details, call (231) 723-1549.

avatar

Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

Leave a Reply