Sparta Fire Department

Shirley and Carl Gilbert, 1977. Photo by Bob Bickel, courtesy of the Democrat and Chronicle

The Sparta Center Volunteer Fire Company was formed in 1963. Shirley Watkins Gilbert assisted at the fire house, creating creating and activating a telephone list to notify volunteers of fire calls, and her husband, Carl Gilbert, was a firefighter.

In 1977, Shirley applied for membership in the fire department and was accepted, one of the first women to become a member of a fire company in Livingston County.

In 1987, the Gilberts' daughter Melody Gilbert Robinson became a firefighter and later achieved the rank of assistant fire chief.