NORWAY — The Fire Department will celebrate its 180th birthday Saturday with the display of the department’s flag that was discovered last year during a station cleaning. The event will take place at the fire station next to the town hall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“I found it folded up in a plastic bag in the archives,” Lt. Christine Yates said. “We were cleaning up for some reason.”

The flag appears to be in good shape except for the faded red color and a 2-foot section of tassel edging that needs to be resewn. No one available could say how old the flag is.

Fire officials say they hope Saturday’s open house will be an opportunity for the community to visit the station to view the flag and other memorabilia, see the engines and smoke house, meet new Chief Dennis Yates, and hear local historian Peter C. Hammond talk about the history of the Norway Fire Department.

Yates replaced Mike Mann who served on the department for several decades, including 15 as fire chief, before retiring earlier this year. Yates, who was serving as deputy chief, was elected to the top spot during the annual town election in June.

Hammond is the author of several local histories, including the 1994 “Hunneman Hose and Buffalo, a history of the Norway Fire Department.”

Yates, who has served with the department for more than 36 years, said it was organized in 1826 but it wasn’t until 1851 that the first engine was purchased. The Hunneman and Buffalo handtub, which is on view in the lobby of the town hall, may be displayed outside during Saturday’s celebration. It is considered a Class B piece of equipment because of the size of its pistons. It was used to pump water on fires, Yates said.

Prior to the purchase of the handtub, the department apparently used the old bucket brigade method of firefighting. The first fire the department dealt with was probably the 1829 fire that destroyed a barn, according to the 1886 “History of Norway, Maine.” The fire at Solomon Millett’s barn on May 7, 1829, was caused by Millett bringing a kettle of live coals into the barn, Hammond wrote. Millett lost eight cows, four oxen, four 3-year-old steers, two horses, grain and hay.

The open house event will also feature Hammond’s book for sale, and refreshments.

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Norway Fire Department Safety Officer David Millett, left, Lt. Christine Yates and Fire Chief Dennis Yates hold the Norway Fire Department flag that will be displayed at Saturday’s open house.

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