Plato said "Necessity is the mother of invention.", and few communities have a greater need for fire protection than one built on the sawmill industry.
Wausau considered fire protection a necessity in the year 1869 after two disastrous fires. 1869 started with the burning of the Daniels and Corey Saw Mill followed closely by a fire in the built up portion of downtown. The downtown fire consumed an entire block including the Music Hall. The Music Hall had been built the year before and was considered the finest building in Wausau. At that time, fire was fought by the entire adult population lining a path from the river to the fire, handing buckets back and forth. To stop the downtown fire, an unburned portion of a building was torn down, while wet blankets were laid on the next building. As a result, on December 28, 1869, the Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 was organized and a hand pump was secured. The first Engine House of Wausau was built at a cost of $980.00.
The first full time firefighters were hired in 1893 and by 1913 the department consisted of 1 Chief, 21 paid firefighters, 3 combination hose and chemical wagons, one hose cart, one hook and ladder truck, two steam fire engines and the chief's horse and buggy. The first motor driven equipment was a combination chemical and hose cart and was put into service in 1915. Ed single was the first driver.
The greatest leap forward came from 1950 to 1971, during the tenure of Chief Wilbur Petzoid. Two new stations were built and equipment was updated.
Today, Wausau Fire is 59 career employees strong with 3 stations located strategically throughout the city. Each station houses an engine and a med. Other apparatus includes a Ladder Truck, a Rescue vehicle, a brush truck, a back up Med and Engine and several other specialty vehicles.