There is no service provided by a community that is more important than a fire department and the Maple Lake area is fortunate to have a volunteer fire department that is second to none.
The current fire department was formed in 1937, but there was an earlier attempt to provide fire protection in the City of Maple Lake. A fire department was organized in 1892 with Martin O’Loughlin as the fire chief. But this first attempt at providing fire protection slowly died out during the early 1900s due to a lack of leadership and a complacent, “It can’t happen here,” attitude.
In 1936, there was no formal fire department in Maple Lake. Instead, residents had a cart with 30 feet of hose and one nozzle. When a fire broke out, someone would report the fire to the local telephone operator. Evelyn Hoffman was the telephone operator at the time and she would call someone she knew who was interested in fighting fires. That volunteer would get the cart out of the jailhouse building while someone else went to ring the church bell. When calls came in to the switchboard, Evelyn would tell them where the fire was. Those responding to the alarm would run to the cart and pull it by hand to the fire.
The need for a more organized fire department was made evident with a fire in 1936 near the city park. Volunteers trying to hook the hose up to a fire hydrant were unable to do so because the man who took care of the town streets would use that hydrant to water his horse, opening the hydrant with a pipe wrench. Since the use of a pipe wrench instead of a hydrant wrench wore down the corners, volunteers had to try to use another hydrant a block away and the house almost burned down.
A group of concerned citizens got together and established the Maple Lake Volunteer Fire Department. The original 15 charter members were Cliff Peterson, chief; H. O. Bolduan, treasurer; Bill Dircks, ass’t. chief; Al Dircks, secretary; and members Ed Starry, Wayne Gee, Ray Muller, Basil Loch, Ervin Kloss, E. R. Vandergon, Tony Oberprillar, Hank Mavencamp, Harry Stuhr, Lawrence Rachel and L. P. Hance.