The History of The McMechen Volunteer Fire Department
What now encompasses better than one-half a city block was at one time a city building which housed one fire truck, council chambers, mayor’s office, jail, and club rooms.
T.J. Deegan moved from Benwood to McMechen in 1923 and engaged in the real estate business with William Hawkins. He realized the need for a fire department despite the protest of local business and professional men of the city.
On April 12, 1926 a mass town meeting was held and plans were made. An initial $3,000 was raised and the first modern fire truck was delivered. The balance of $2,000 was paid off in 1928 and the McMechen Fire Department was free of debt!
At the 1928 meeting, F.J. Deegan was elected the first Fire Chief. Chester Shields was elected Assistant Chief, Bert Cooey, Captain; Charles Wilson, Lieutenant; Charles Kincaid, Secretary; and William Stephen, Treasurer. In January 1929, W.R. Gallagher was elected Chief. “Tubby” was to remain the Chief of the McMechen Volunteer Department for the next fifty years! Since 1979 five men have held the position of Chief: George Bilich, John Jura, John W. Lowe, Jr., George Stewart, and John Eikleberry.
The McMechen Volunteer Fire Department has always counted on the citizens of the city to help support the department.
In 1926 Deegan sold notes, twenty one of them, at a cost of $100 to business and professional
men of the city. Along with minstrels and plays presented by the Fire Department they were able to pay off their debt including $500 for a siren.
In May of 1997 a new addition was completed. What was the former State Food Store and Capitol Radio and T.V. is now a community center. This is in addition to the fire station, which houses all the fire equipment, clubroom, and the shelter and office complex. Once again, with the support of the community the Fire Department was able to expand. Through numerous hours donated by the fire department, members for fundraisers like Hall Rental of the new Community Center.
Membership in 1926 was approximately 15. The first women joined the department in 1980. There are now 40 members in good standing, including EMT’s, Paramedics, and Trained Firefighters. Each member not only donates his or her time for emergencies but also for training, fund raising, and maintaining all the equipment and buildings. The McMechen Fire Department has hosted the State Fire Convention every ten years since 1957. Since the beginning, the members of the McMechen Volunteer Fire Department remain “ALWAYS READY, ALWAYS FAITHFUL.”