Fire took a heavy toll on key buildings during the village's infancy. Among those lost were the first log school, the home of J.B. Sartell on July 7, 1822 (part of the contents were saved), The flour mill April 17, 1909, the Watab Hotel and the Sartell Bros. Lumber Company office.
As a result of these losses the citizens decided to organize a volunteer fire department. This was done on February 4, 1920. The first elected officers were: Lester McNeil, Chief; Norris Sartell, M.L. Cole and William Sartell, Sub-Chiefs. The Firefighters were; Earl Sartell, Joe Sartell, L.L. Sartell, Ripley Sartell, Marcus Sartell, Lee Pebeles, Harry McNeil, Al Green, Ralph Guptil, Harvey Johnson, Matt DeZurik, Will Dalmeir, Clarence Garding, Claude Scherer, F.N. Sartell, Ben Garding and Gus Nelson.
The Village had earlier ordered a new fire truck which was delivered a few weeks later. It was delivered by Mr. Waterous the founder of the Waterous Pump Company. The first Firefighters remember that on the day it was delivered it was 15 degrees below zero. Mr. Waterous was bundled up in a large coon-skin coat because truck was of the open cock-pit type which meant a very cold ride from St. Paul MN. at 20 MPH.
The new truck was a 1919 model T Ford with a rear mounted pump, a 200 gallon tank and 800 feet of hose. The cost of the truck was $3,800.00. On May 30th, 1920 saw the Fire Truck in action for the first time. The cause of the alarm was a fire in the sawdust pile at the Sartell Brothers Saw Mill. The truck served the village well for 20 years at which time it was called to put out fires at the N.P. Clarke Farm, Ralph Perry's General Store, the Post Office, Village Hall and many others.
After it was retired in 1940 it was again called to duty at the coal dock fire and played an instrumental part in saving the structure. Years later it went up for sale on bids and was sold for $87.00 and later was sold to a junk yard in Princeton MN. It sat in the junk yard for several years until it was spotted by a fire truck collector from Shakopee, MN. who purchased it with the intention to restore it. He never quite got around to restoring it and gave it to his son-in-law from Mound MN. who was also a antique collector. The son-in-law started restoring it but before he had finished decided he had too many antiques and not enough room. Through the trucks serial number he traced the original ownership back to Sartell and wrote the Fire Department to see if the Department would be interested in buying it back for $700.00. The Department wanted it back but they did not have enough money to do so. The Department wrote the owner and explained that they would like to have the truck back but to lack of funds they could not. (Tax funds could not be used for this purpose) The Department felt very badly about the possible loss of old Number 1 and gave up hope of ever seeing it again. But a year later a stroke of luck came to bear. The owner wrote the Department again and explained, "As long as it was the first truck he felt that it should go back to Sartell and that if the Department still wanted it he would sell it to them for $500.00 and that, if the Department would send him a $100.00 down payment the Department could take a year to pay the balance." This the Department could handle, so after 30 years Old Number 1 came back home.
The Sartell Fire Department still has its first Fire Truck Old Number 1. This 1919 Model-T Fire Truck is used for parades and special occasions.
Today the Sartell Fire Department has a force of 32 Firefighters and 12 pieces of apparatus, (1) 75 Foot Tele-Squirt with a 2000 GPM pump, (1) 2000 GPM pumper, (1) 1250 GPM pumper, (1) 3000 Gallon Tanker, (1) 1650 Gallon Tanker, (3) Brush Rigs, (1) Zodiac Boat and (1) Oil Response Trailer (1) Polaris Ranger 6X6 Brush Rig. The Department responses out of one station built in 1982.
On November 22nd, 1920 a whistle was installed at the Watab Paper Co. Boiler House to as a signal for the Fire Department. The signals were the siren blows first then 1 whistle for the east side of the river. Siren blows then 2 whistle for west side of river south of Watab Creek. Siren blows then 3 whistles blows for west side of river north of Watab Creek. Today the Department is Dispatch through Stearns County 911 system with a paging system.
Sartell Fire Department 1940