John Fisher Hose Company: One of the Oldest Fire Companies in Colorado

Description: Denver Public Library Special Collections, X-10471.

Published: 08/14/2023
Byline: Cutsforth

John Fisher Hose Company: One of the Oldest Fire Companies in Colorado

John Fisher Hose Company was Chartered on December 31, 1882 and officially recognized on January 24, 1883, the John Fisher Hose Company has roots in being one of the oldest volunteer fire companies in Colorado.

Named for the mayor of La Junta at the time, the hose company’s founding came less than a year after La Junta’s incorporation on April 23, 1881.

C.W. Wonderly, the company’s first fire marshal, oversaw operation of the department for more than thirty years. Under his supervision, the department graduated from hand and horse drawn fire carts to automotive fire trucks. Wonderly was also a bit of an amateur historian who kept records of every fire his company fought. This included the date, the damage sustained, and the insurance loss stemming from those conflagrations.

By all accounts, the John Fisher Hose Company was highly efficient in regards to answering the calls of buildings on fire and with regard to limiting the damage sustained by those blazes. However, there were instances where the volunteer fire department could not control the fires they fought. These included the destruction of a hospital on Santa Fe Avenue on December 14, 1884 and the loss of several shops on the same thoroughfare on December 11, 1903.

Along with their skills fighting actual fires, the men of the John Fisher Hose Company won firemen’s tournaments in 1883, 1885 and in Lamar in 1902. The hose company also held an annual firemen’s ball every Christmas to help raise funds for the company and to show their appreciation to the men who gave their time to the department.

Following the charter of the John Fisher Hose Company, two other hose companies came into existence. The Avery Hose Company and the Railroad Hospital Company. To honor the volunteers of the John Fisher Hose Company, a building was erected at 601 Colorado Avenue in La Junta. The building’s large iron doors at the entry, come from the old Otero County jail.

Inside the hose company building is a 1927 American LaFrance fire engine, a1952 four-wheel- drive pumper, and two hand pulled horse carts. The Railroad Company volunteer firemen used one of the horse carts. The John Fisher Hose Company has a long and rich history that dates back to the founding of La Junta itself. And on more than one occasion, the volunteer firemen helped preserve the town that everyone knows today.

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