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Firehouse - 1870s
Naperville’s volunteer firemen fought fires with the Joe Naper Pumper.
Wooden buildings and smoking chimneys were fire hazards in nineteenth-century Naperville. When flames broke out, volunteers took action with a bucket brigade to prevent conflagrations from spreading. A human chain passed leather buckets up from the river or another water source, trying to extinguish the blaze.
After a fire destroyed several buildings in downtown Naperville in 1874, the town formed a volunteer fire company and purchased a modern pumper, nicknamed the “Joe Naper.” Firemen hauled the pumper to the site of a fire and hooked up the intake hose to a nearby water source. The outtake hose, pressurized from the hand pumping of the firemen, blasting 250 gallons of water a minute—smothering flames with a force that no bucket brigade could match. Naperville used the Joe Naper Pumper until 1916, when it was replaced by a combination house and chemical auto truck.
When Naperville purchased its first fire pumper in 1874, any barn or shed that was big enough to house the bulky contraption was pressed into service as the firehouse. This 1860s building carries on that tradition. It was moved to the Naper Settlement from Webster Street in 1975.
Mr. and Mrs. Harold Moser generously provided the funding for the entire restoration project.
Paw Paw Post Office
523 S. Webster St., Naperville, IL 60540 • 630.420.6010 • Fax: 630.305.4044
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