About a year and a half ago, Ozzie Blow was sitting in a regular meeting of the Malta Ridge Volunteer Fire Co. when he heard that old photos related to the company were not only disorganized but just lying around on the floor of the building.
Blow volunteered to pull the photographs together and preserve them. That small act has since snowballed into a project that he hopes will culminate in a detailed history of the Malta Ridge Volunteer Fire Co. with those very pictures supplementing his written words.
The research I'm doing is the history of our past, said Blow, who has been a member of the fire company since 1967. "A lot of it is lost. Now is the time to write it down and put it in book form."
Blow said he has scores of paperwork at home in two 4-foot rows of binders that he goes through regularly. Lately, he said, he has been focused on reviewing the meeting minutes of the company and summarizing them. At this time, he has completed that process through 1980.
"At first people ignored me," said Blow. "But once they saw what I was doing, a lot of stuff began to come through."
He said people have handed him boxes of their own memorabilia, helping him tremendously in his search for information about the early days of the department.
Blow said his research has provided him with interesting reading. He has learned that the first meeting of the fire company was held on the steps of the Malta Ridge Common School, a one-room schoolhouse, in 1948. The company formed using money provided by its members. The money was used to purchase its first fire truck, which was parked behind an area business.
For several years, the company was funded solely on membership dues and fines. Blow said dues were listed as 50 cents a month for members. Members who missed fires paid a 50 cent fine for each fire missed, and those not attending a funeral were fined $1. It was not until 1950 that the town of Malta entered into its first contract with the Malta Ridge Fire Co.