Farewell to Matt Smith, who is retiring from the Albion Fire Department after 14 years of service. Matt, in addition to being an active firefighter and the AFD Secretary for several years, formerly served on the Albion Town Council, and was also an EMT with the Noble County EMS.



Here Fire Chief Brad Rollins, on the left, presents Matt with his helmet shield as a token of appreciation for his years of service.
(Matt, who works full time as a technical writer, is no relation to Doctor Who, although I've always felt his heart is bigger on the inside.)
ozma914: (ozma914)
( Nov. 3rd, 2016 09:39 am)


The Albion Fire Department helped patrol Albion during Trick Or Treating on Halloween, including a crew with Engine 91 on the Noble County Courthouse square.




ozma914: (ozma914)
( Aug. 21st, 2016 05:19 am)


I turned in the list of Albion firefighters from throughout our 225 (or so) year history … or at least, all the names I could find after a fairly exhaustive search. They’re to go on a plaque that will be displayed at the fire station.

I came up with 197 firefighters. I’m sure there are more, but it’s become a game of diminishing returns—at the moment I just don’t have time to pour over microfilms of 100 year old newspapers in the hopes of stumbling across one name (although that does sound kind of fun. I’m strange). A wintertime project maybe, depending on how my writing time goes. I hope there will be some light bulb moments out there, and more people will send names in.

Meanwhile, I also compiled AFD fire chiefs, and even managed to fill in some holes that were in my original list, published in Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights. Here’s what I have:





1887-1888                   A.J. Denlar

1888-1894                   William E. Worden

1895-1997                   ?

1898                            J.O. Russell Jr.

1899-1903                   ?

1904                            Edward A. Kunkle

1905-1912                   ?

1913-1916                   Charles Callahan  (resigned 5/1/16)

1916-1930                   John Gatwood (nomination approved 6/5/16)

1930-1934                   ?

1935-1952                   Harry Campbell

1952-1954                   Byron K. Smith

1954-1959                   Harry Metz

1959-1963                   Robert Beckley

1963-1969                   Al Jacob

1970-1971                   James Applegate

1971-1973                   Edward Moorhouse

1974-1975                   Terry Campbell

1975-1981                   James Applegate

1982-1993                   Larry Huff

1994-1997                   Bob Beckley

1998-2001                   Kevin Libben

2002-2008                   Gregg Gorsuch

2009-2010                   Brad Rollins

2011-2012                   Tim Lock

2013-2015                   Steve Bushong

2015-2016                   John Urso

2016-present               Brad Rollins



I never did get around to posting all my photos from Albion's ALL-IN Block Party ... and I also haven't been able to spend much time at the fire station lately, So I'll make up for it by combining the two, with a look at the Albion Fire Department's booth at the event (which you may remember happened in late June).



I was around the corner with the other authors at the time, but I sneaked away a couple of times to grab some photos. One was this, of the AFD's area--which, as it happened, was on the same block as the location of Albion's first firehouse, built in 1887. While I was selling books, so were the firefighters: They distributed some copies of Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With the Albion Fire Department. Of course, proceeds from sales of that book go to the AFD. The truck on the right is one of our two four wheel drive brush fire/first responder trucks.



Here's a closer look at the hose reel, which you might be surprised to know is no longer an in-service apparatus. As near as my research can tell, this is the third of the AFD's three hose reels, which means it dates to around 1900. Most of today's fire engines carry a pump, hose, ladder, and water tank. The hose reel carried just hose and nozzles, working in conjunction with the town's hand-pumped fire engine and hook & ladder wagon. Why separate? Because they had to be light: They were pulled to the fire by hand!



After a hand-pumped engine and then a horse-drawn chemical wagon, this was Albion's first gasoline powered fire engine: a 1929 Buffalo Fire Apparatus Co. truck on a Chevy chassis. It carried 450 feet of hose, along with ladders and hand tools, and a 35 gallon chemical tank that was basically a big pressurized fire extinguisher. Best of all, it could pump an amazing 300 gallons of water per minute, and didn't need a team of firefighters operating a hand pump to do it. You have to wonder why they didn't go ahead and put a roof on it, though.


ozma914: (ozma914)
( Jun. 7th, 2016 08:09 pm)

If you're in Noble County tomorrow afternoon, don't forget to stop by and fill yourself up with all you can eat fish and/or tenderloin! It's a great fund raiser and a way to show support for local volunteer firefighters. Also, it tastes good. 

There's a chance I won't be there due to personal stuff I can't talk about. (Maybe they'll keep back some fish for me?) But if I'm not and you don't have a copy yet, ask for another AFD fund raiser, our book Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century Or So With the Albion Fire Department. There's a box or two laying around up there, and it's also a great fund raiser for the department.


(I realize there aren't a lot of Albionites here! But, it's worth a try.)

The Albion Fire Department has decided to honor its past and present members, by displaying in the firehouse a plaque with all their names. I’m talking all their names, from our entire 125 (or so) year history.
I, being the AFD’s official historian (I made that up, but it could happen), have been tasked with gathering those names. Why? Well, being determined to someday write full time gave me experience at chasing impossible dreams.
So while it might be difficult to find out who manned the hook and ladder in 1905, I’m taking a shot at it—and I need your help. Yeah, I’m pointing at you.
Everyone please spread the word around, and send me the names of all the Albion firefighters you remember or heard of. (Not Mark Hunter—I know about him.) We’re looking for (naturally) names, but also years of service. For instance, for me it would be 1980-2019, which is when my warranty is due to run out. Or at least a partial range: For instance, I have Harry Campbell down as 1935-1952, but that’s not his entire firefighting career—it’s the years when he was chief. Or, if someone’s heard a number instead of a range, I’ll use that: An example would be, say, Jacob, Phil: 63 years of service. (Obviously just a name is better than nothing.)
That’s for the plaque. I’d also like to have on record the highest rank achieved, for historical purposes. Or at least the highest rank known, in the case of long ago. As still another example, I have: Epp, John: known year of service, 1888. Highest rank, Foreman of the Hook & Ladder apparatus.
See how easy that is? I only had to spend days going through old newspaper microfilms for that one.
So please, send me all the names you can remember, and hopefully the rest of that stuff. Also, if you live in Albion, Illinois, and have never heard of Albion, Indiana, you can disregard this now that you’ve read the whole thing.
Message me here, or use my website contact form at http://markrhunter.com/contact.php ... Or, my e-mail address and home phone numbers really aren’t that hard to track down. If you tried a gmail.com address that had markrichardhunter @ the beginning of it …

ozma914: (Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights)
( Nov. 8th, 2015 06:15 am)

I wasn't able to get them to easily transfer onto DW, but I have a few photos of yesterday's fire on my blog:




Some photos from yesterday’s fire on my blog … a bad day for everyone.

It’s not workable to wear air packs at wildland fires, but you can usually stay out of the worst of the smoke if you’re careful. I wasn’t.

Sunday we responded to a fire that burned into a field and a pine woods. After getting the brush truck stuck (my 4WD success ratio sucks) I ended up in the woods, and underestimated the amount of smoke while working my way to the front of the fire.

It wasn’t too bad … except it appears that one of my many allergies is pine trees, and the smoke was from burning pine wood and needles. I spent all day Monday with a sore throat, raspy breath, wheezing, irritated eyes, and itchy skin. It was like watching a political debate. But I slept through most of it (the allergies, not the debate—well, the debate too), because that’s what Benadryl does to me.

So from a “routine” ground cover fire I got smoke inhalation, while another firefighter had singed hair, and a third a cut head. What lesson do we take from this? 

You never know what’s going to go wrong. Not an original lesson, but still.

500E 500N field fire photo grassfire--AFDandKFD.jpg
Not the same fire, Emily took this a few years ago -- I was busy both times.
ozma914: (ozma914)
( Apr. 2nd, 2015 03:55 pm)


Hopefully today’s rain will cut down on ground cover fires for awhile, and hopefully without severe storms. And hopefully without an earthquake, like Missouri just had. Worst case scenario: an earthquake during a forest fire, with a funnel cloud touching down to make a fire tornado. The scary part is that it could happen.


 But remember, folks: Just because the ground is still wet doesn’t mean we can’t have ground cover fires. Dead foliage from over the winter dries out quickly, and until things green up later in the spring it can ignite easily—sometimes within hours of a rain. I’ve seen flames burn through a swamp, right over standing water.


In fact, fires this time of year can be even worse, because brush, grass, and fields still burn, but the ground can be too wet for four wheel drive brush trucks to reach the flames. Firefighters have to walk to the fire with hand tools, or wait for the flames to reach their positions close to the road. Waiting means the fire gets bigger, and there’s a chance it might reach and damage buildings or vehicles.


So don’t burn in windy conditions, have a cleared area around whatever you’re burning, and watch the fire until it’s completely out. If in doubt, don't do it.

Not being in a burning building doesn't make it safe: Firefighters have suffered smoke inhalation, heat exhaustion, falls, burns, and being hit by vehicles at grass and field fires.


This photo is from a fire that endangered buildings on March 18th, near Long Lake Road and CR 175 N.


I took some photos at the Albion Fire Department’s recent vehicle extrication training (it was 86 degrees!) and, naturally, posted them on the AFD’s FB page:



            Copies of “Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century Or So With The Albion Fire Department” will be on sale for $9.95 at the Albion Fire Department’s annual all-you-can-eat fish and tenderloin fry. The meal will again be a part of the Chain O’ Lakes Festival, on Wednesday, June 4th.


            The dinner will be held from 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Albion Fire Station, 210 Fire Station Drive on the east end of town. Price for adults is $9, for children $6, and it’s free for children 5 and under. In addition to the unlimited fish and tenderloin, chips, applesauce, baked beans, bread, and a drink are on the menu.


            Proceeds for both the meal and the book go to the Albion Fire Department’s emergency equipment and training fund.

My attempt at a press release, so people would know where the Smoky Days book sale money is going. I can’t help noticing that press releases involve a lot of bragging.



            Albion Fire Chief Steve Bushong accepts a check from local author and volunteer firefighter Mark R Hunter for recent sales of his history book about the AFD.


Smoky Days And Sleepless Nights: A Century Or So With The Albion Fire Department is being sold as a fund raiser for the Albion Fire Department, and first came out at the AFD’s 125th Anniversary celebration in July, 2013. The check, for $200, is in addition to sales made last summer, with all proceeds going to the AFD.


            Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights chronicles the fire disasters that struck Albion’s early history, efforts to form a fire department, and the first century of the AFD. The fully illustrated book, which was written by Hunter and designed and edited by his wife, Emily, sells for $9.95, and is available as e-book or in print on their website, www.markrhunter.com, or directly from Amazon.com.


            Locally it’s available at the Albion New Era newspaper office on South Orange Street, the Brick Ark Inn on North Orange Street, and at the Albion Fire Station on the east side of town. The Hunters can also be contacted for a copy at (260) 636-3468 or at markrichardhunter@gmail.com.


            Mark R. Hunter has two works of fiction set in northeast Indiana, published by Whiskey Creek Press: The romantic comedy Storm Chaser, and a follow-up short story collection Storm Chaser Shorts. He has two more books coming out in 2014.

 (Dreamwidth hates me, so the photo is on my blogger:_




ozma914: (Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights)
( Mar. 26th, 2014 02:27 am)

            After three decades as a volunteer firefighter, I … hurt. A lot, especially when it’s cold. Recently I’ve been seen wearing a sling, to let my arm heal after I bent an elbow the wrong way. (I don’t really need the sling—it’s to keep me from reaching for stuff with my bad arm.)

            Bob Beckley was already an old timer (or so my 18-year-old self thought) when I joined. He just hit his 40thyear.

            Bob Brownell was just given his fifty year pin.

            Fifty years.

            And that was because they missed the actual anniversary: He’s been a firefighter for 53 years. He was already doing the job for two decades before I walked into the firehouse for the first time, sucking on a bottle and wetting my pants. (Just kidding … I wasn’t sucking on a bottle. I left it in the car.)

            Now, what else happened around 53 years ago? Hm. Well, 52 years ago, although I don’t actually remember it …

            Holy cow. Bob Brownell has been fighting fires since before I was born.

            And the rest of us still have to fight him for the friggin’ fire nozzle.

            Maybe it’s a Bob thing. Maybe being a Bob gives you more energy somehow; maybe it’s one of those mystical names that keeps you young even longer than sleeping under a pyramid, or marrying Playboy bunnies.

            Brownell would have started around 1961 or so. Kennedy was President. In Albion, our newest truck was a 1952 fire engine, the first engine I rode to a fire almost two decades later. It had a manual transmission with about 42 speeds on it.

            And I’m tired?

Now, Brownell is a transfer, which means he didn’t start with our department. What happened was, he started on a different fire department, wore all of them out, then moved to another one. Then all the young guys on that department got tired of him making them look bad, so he left there and came to us. You know those stories about immortal people who moved every few decades so people wouldn’t notice they aren’t aging? That’s Brownell. )



            Years ago I shopped at a place called Excel Home Furnishings on the north  side of the Noble County Courthouse square. I liked wandering around the second floor, because they’d installed enclosed bridges that allowed the furniture to be displayed not only in the original building, but in two other neighboring ones.

            (I have no explanation for why I love exploring sprawling areas like that. It’s why I keep getting lost at the State Park … and the mall.)

            In one of those buildings most of the upstairs was open, and there was a big raised area, like a stage. For someone who lived in a utility apartment at the time, I thought it was really cool.

            It turned out to be even more cool when one of the employees showed me a normally closed off area, where we could see the outer walls and roof. There they were, plain as day: Charred wood and smoke stains. At one time in the distant past, he explained, the building had burned.           

That was my introduction to the Albion Opera House. )


            In 1859, fire breaks out in the Noble County Courthouse in Chapter One of

Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century Or So With The Albion Fire Department:


            John W. Bryant spotted the fire in Albion’s first courthouse at around 1 a.m. on a frigid January morning. He saw flames spread through the clerk’s office on the south side of the ground floor, and gave an alarm that likely consisted of a high pitched scream.

            In those days, the entire population of a town would turn out to give what help they could at the call of “fire!” In some communities the law stated everyone had to own at least one bucket. As the alarm spread, people would throw their buckets out the window, where they’d be grabbed up, until everyone formed bucket brigades to splash water on the fire.

            How many concussions resulted from fallen buckets hasn’t been documented.


            Albion’s first reported fire rescue and injuries followed … you can read the whole book by ordering on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Mark-R.-Hunter/e/B0058CL6OO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1, or from my website at www.markrhunter.com.

            In addition to being available for sale at the Albion New Era office on South Main Street and from the fire department, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With the Albion Fire Department is also for sale at the Brick Ark Inn, on North Orange Street.


            The Brick Ark Inn is a bed and breakfast owned by my high school classmate, Tammy Luce, and it’s developed a reputation for comfort and hospitality. She agreed to sell the book there mostly for her guests, but I’m sure anyone could drop by to get a copy (and try some of the honey for sale there), and to check the place out. Here’s her website:




            Smoky Days is about Albion’s fire history, and Tammy is set up in an 1880’s brick home just a block from the Noble County Courthouse Square, which figures prominently in the book. In fact, her home is next to the former location of the Worden House, which is mentioned in the book’s opening chapter as the scene of one of Albion’s earliest fire related injuries. On the same block is the Albion Opera House, which has its own segment in the book.


            Of course, you can order any of my books from the website at www.markrhunter.com. But if you happen to be visiting Albion you owe it to yourself to check out the Brick Ark Inn, one of our jewels run by a jewel of a person.

Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights will be available at the Breakfast With the Firefighters Saturday morning at the Albion Fire Station, 8-11 a.m.


On an unrelated note, here’s a photo Emily snapped of me at Yesterday’s Whitley County Writer’s Group:







            Sometimes my life seems a little … surreal.


            Like something out of a TV show surreal. One of those TV shows where characters are always doing double takes, and saying things like “that’s new”, or “I did not see that coming”.


            For instance, I meet a woman on a writing website, marry her, and then discover she has all the skills needed to design a book package at the exact moment when I happen to delve into the sometimes difficult world of self-publishing. Didn’t see that coming.


            Naturally that leads into the already told story of my book signing for said book, and speaking of surreal: It’s been over two years since I did my first book signing, and it’s still weird. Does Stephen King ever look at himself in the mirror and think, “How did all this happen? Wasn’t I just a nobody teaching school, yesterday? Now cartoon versions of me are doing cameos on Fox TV shows.”


            Then, being Stephen King, he’d go off and write a story about a writer’s cartoon mirror image doing horrifying things in an isolated Maine cabin.


            The morning of this particular signing I had to work until 11 a.m., and it started at noon. I didn’t worry about that, because it was at an entire fire department’s 125th birthday, and there was lots of stuff besides me going on there. I was a sideshow.



            A little writing update: While we were in Missouri I made it a point to work an hour or two each day on my Storm Chaser sequel, which was original called Storm Damage but now has the working title of The Notorious Ian Grant. (Partially because there’s already at least one book named Storm Damage.)  I’ve now finished the second draft (third, depending on how you define it), and Emily is going to be my first reader – we’ll see what she has to say about it.

            I’m also working on a series of what I’m calling “space opera” stories, and a possibly novella length story that’s going to be part of a Girl Scout related project that I’m helping with (no, seriously). And of course Harlequin Special Edition still has my full manuscript of Coming Attractions; I don’t expect to hear from them for at least a couple of months.





ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)


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