Web Historical Overview by xumiaomaio


									                                          Historical Overview
                      The Santa Rosa Fire Department: 1859-2004
                      Information provided by: Retired Fire Captain Jim Davis

 Early Volunteer Fire Companies

      On April 30, 1859, all the citizens of Santa Rosa Township were urged to attend a public meeting to take the
       preliminary steps for for mation of a fire company. Prior to this, Santa Rosa had no organized fire protection.
       Doctor F.F. Boyce was appointed chairman and a committee of five was selected to look into the best method
       of organizing a fire company. On the committee were J.R. Myers, M. Rosenberg, Dr. S.S. Todd, Dr. John
       Hendley and E.R. Budd.

                  Sixteen names were given to the
                   committee as volunteer members
                   for a proposed Hook and Ladder
                   Company. After tw o meetings, no
                   tangible progress was made. By
                   1860, Petaluma and Healdsburg
                   had already formed or ganized fire
                   companies but Santa Rosa
                   remained without protection. “We
                   must have some kind of organized
                   fire company,” proclaimed an
                   editorial in the Sonoma County
                   Democrat on July 12, 1860. The
                   editorial urged each residence to
                   contribute $50 to $100 toward the
                   cost of an engine.

                  On September 20, 1860, a fire broke out in a residence and was quickly doused with the use of a
                   neighbor’s pump and hose. The Democrat pointed out to its readers that if all the people donated
                   towards a community pump, hose and other equipment the entire township would benefit.

                  Ironically, the event, which finally spurred the people to action, was the burning of Dr. Todd’s Third
                   Street home on January 20, 1861. Todd had served on the original committee back in 1859, and
                   after his house bur ned citizens took up a collection for a Hook and Ladder Company. On Febr uary
                   2, 1861, with $3,000 collected and more promised, a Hook and Ladder Company was organized
                   with 25 members. This Company was renamed Engine Company Number One; by-laws were
                   passed and W.H. Crowell and T.O. Thompson were confirmed as President and Foreman of Engine
                   Company Number One. In 1874 an additional volunteer fire company was formed, Santa Rosa
                   Hose Company Number One.

 Paid City Fire Depart ment

      Then came the watershed year of 1894. Santa Rosa, with 5,500 residents, established city limits. City
       Ordinance #115 was passed in January 1894, creating a mostly paid Fire Depar tment, thus bringing to an end
       the colorful era of separate volunteer fire companies. Plans were wor ked out for a steam engine and a new
       firehouse. The separate companies tur ned over their equipment to the City. Frank Muther served as Chief
       Engineer for the next seven years.

                  The City established a Gamewell Fire Alarm System and secured the use of telegraph poles to
                   suppor t the system. The first steam engine, a fifth size American La France, was delivered in 1896.
                   At the turn of the centur y, Lynchberg Adams took over as Chief Engineer, with J.W. Duncan as
                   assistant. In 1902 the depar tment bought a second steam engine, a thir d size Metropolitan
                   capable of throwing a 1 ½ inch stream of water 280 feet on level ground. T he City of Santa Rosa
                   still owns this piece of equipment and there is a desire to restore this unit to its original form. In
                   the early 1900’s, the City of Santa Rosa built its first fire station at the corner of Fifth Street and
                   Mendocino Avenue.

 Town Shaken Apart

      The new improved fire department faced no major conflagrations until the morning of April 18, 1906. It was
       5:17 a.m., a calm April morning when a heavy shock and a grinding crash occurred, lifting the planets cr ust,
       buckling the earth beneath the City of Santa Rosa.

                  One minute later almost
                   every building not
                   constructed of wood lay
                   in a heap on the
                   ground. The brick front
                   of the Fifth Street
                   Firehouse fell dow n,
                   and rubble fr om the
                   Occidental Hotel was
                   piled in front of the
                   firehouse doors.
                   Firemen had to
                   construct a bridge with
                   planks to get their
                   equipment out of the
                   station. About 100
                   people died in the
                   earthquake. Santa
                   Rosa’s structural
                   damage surpassed that
                   of any other City,
                   including San Francisco. Although there were fires to quell, fire did not consume the City as it did in
                   San Francisco. Two notable businesses were lost; the Press Democrat and the Republican
                   buildings were destroyed, killing four employees.

 Wor ld War II Alert

      On December 7, 1941, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the entr y in Fire Station #3’s log book reads: “At this
       time all men were called back to duty until fur ther notice due to War conditions.” All men were on duty 24
       hours a day until December 11, 1941, when one man at a time was off for half a day. On January 20, 1942,
       the shifts returned to regular hours, but all off duty men were on call at all times.

                  George Magee assumed the position of Fire Chief in 1944. Santa Rosa’s population in 1945 was
                   18,000 residents. By then the department had 26 employees who worked a 72-hour workweek. In
                   1949, there were 27 men, 301 fire hydrants, 92 alarm boxes, two 750 gpm pumpers, a 1926
                   American La France Quad (which we still own), an aerial, 8,900 feet of 2 ½ inch hose and 3,300
                   feet of 1 ½ inch hose. Chief Magee made $325 per month while firefighters made $180 to $225
                   per month. All firemen had bells in their homes that would sound w hen a fire alarm box was
                   registered. They would count the bell sequence, which would tell them where to respond.

 Union representation

      On April 1, 1950, Santa Rosa Firemen joined the International Association of Federated Firefighters, Local 1050.
       The Firefighters lost their charter in 1958 due to a lack of interest. The Firefighters returned to the
       International in the 1960’s as Local 1401.

 First Ambulance
                                                                                   The Santa Rosa Fire Department
                                                                                    began providing ambulance service
                                                                                    to its citizens in 1940 with the local
                                                                                    American Legion contributing to the
                                                                                    purchase of a vehicle. The new
                                                                                    Headquarters fire station at 415 “A”
                                                                                    Street was completed in July of
                                                                                    1940 and the ambulance responded
                                                                                    from this station. Ironically the first
                                                                                    ambulance run was for an electrical
                                                                                    shock, one of our own firemen, Jack
                                                                                    Wright. Jack was wor king on the
                                                                                    alarm system and crossed some
                                                                                    wires. Fireman Eugene Duignan,
                                                                                    who became Fire Chief in March of
                                                                                    1961, drove the ambulance on its
                                                                                    first call to assist Fireman Wright.

                                                                            Raging Brush Fire

       In 1964 local fire departments faced one of the worst brush fire in years. A 1,300 acre grass fire in the
        Kenwood area broke out, along with a 100 acre fire near the Hanley Ranch on the slopes of Mt. St. Helena.
        Fanned by a dr y nor th wind and 100 plus degree temperatures, the fires raged from September 22 to
        September 27, 1964 searing Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties. Agencies including Fresno and San Francisco
        responded to assist the attack on both blazes. T he Hanley fire bur ned 52,000 acres, 156 homes, and 150 other
        structures. The Nunn fire in the Kenwood area burned 10,000 acres.

       The year following the Hanley fire the City of Santa Rosa opened station number three at the corner of
        Guer neville Road and Range Avenue, June 1965. This station was later relocated to its current site on Coffey

 One Firefighter Lost

 On June 29, 1966 firefighter John Hurt died after a wall collapsed during a fire at Santa Rosa Upholstery Shop on
  Third Street. Although the City of Santa Rosa Fire Depar tment has lost other members to wor k related deaths, this
  was our first firefighter death directly related to firefighting activity.

 Return of the Quake

 The fire depar tment had another earthquake to cope with in October 1969. This earthquake may have seemed like
  deja`vu, considering how hard Santa Rosa was hit in 1906. This earthquake stretched the firefighting forces thin
  as crews responded to numerous small fires, buildings off foundations and major damage to Memorial Hospital,
  Cardiovascular Institute of Santa Rosa, California Theater, Roxy Theater, Occidental Hotel, Fremont School and the
  Old Courthouse. Many of these buildings were later demolished. The Santa Rosa Fire Department had 63
  firefighters, four fire stations, five engines, an ambulance, hose wagon, two trucks and two br ush units at the time.

 1969 to 2004
 The Santa Rosa Fire Department has covered a lot of ground since Captain Jim Davis gathered the aforementioned
  information on our history. We have amassed our firefighting w orkforce on many occasions to quell large scale
  fires, like the Piano Organ Warehouse, Beacon’s Storage fire, Chevron tanker blaze, two major tire fires and on and

 As the Santa Rosa Fire Department and Local 1401 continue to wor k together to address the emergency response
  needs for our gr owing community, we remain hopeful that this history will help orient those w ho are unfamiliar with
  our depar tment. Below are some landmar ks that have occurred since 1969.

 Between 1969 and 1982 the City of Santa Rosa constructed fire stations number five, seven and two in that or der.
  The Old Headquarters Station at 415 “A” Street was demolished for the construction of the Downtown Plaza.
  Firefighters lived in a mobile home for two years on Second Street, where the new Vineyard Inn Hotel and
  Blackman Convention Center are located today (the old Grace Brother’s Brewery property). Fire Station Two was
  the last fire station constructed by the City of Santa Rosa in 1982 when the City’s population was approximately
  87,000 and the full-time employee strength for the entire depar tment was 88.

 In March of 1983 the City of Santa Rosa annexed enough property from the Roseland Fire Protection District that
  LAFCO required Santa Rosa to absorb the personnel and responsibilities for fire protection in the Roseland area.
  This added Santa Rosa Station Eight to the department’s inventor y, increasing our staffing level to 100. This also
  increased the City of Santa Rosa fire depar tment call volume significantly.

 In budget year 00-01, after a comprehensive OS HA compliance study was presented to the City Council, the
  department added two additional companies. Engine Company Twenty-Six and Truck Company Two were staffed.
  This, along with a new Training Captain position and three additional prevention positions, increased our total
  staffing to 129 with nine engine companies and two tr uck companies. T he total population we served, including
  the Roseland area was 141,989.

 In budget year 01-02 six additional firefighter positions were added to meet daily staffing demands and a
  Paramedic program was initiated. Paramedics now ser ve on Engines two, six, twenty-six (floater, not always
  staffed) seven and eight. This brought our total staffing to 135.

 The 2003 census identified the City of Santa Rosa’s population at 160,329 residents. In 2004 we estimate the
  population to be closer to 170,000 residents.

 Fire Chief Tony Pini after seventeen years as Fire Chief, retired in September of 2003. Interim Fire Chief Ronny J.
    Coleman stepped in to operate the depar tment and to prepare a transition plan for the new chief. In June of 2004,
  we welcomed Bruce Varner to the Santa Rosa Fire Depar tment as our new Fire Chief. Chief Varner has been
  recognized nationally as a Fire Chief and ser ved with the Phoenix Arizona and Carrollton Texas fire depar tments

 Personnel
 Chiefs

           1900-1906 Lynchbur g Adams                                        1972-1986 Mike T urnick

                                                                              1986-2003 Tony Pini

                                                                      2003-2004 Ronny J. Coleman (interim)

            1906-1911 Frank Muther

             1911-1928 J.W. Duncan
            1928-1938 William Muenter
            1938-1944 Lloyd Rhoades

                                                                             2004-         Bruce Varner
            1944-1961 George Magee
            1961-1972 Eugene Duignan
   Volunteer companies
   1861-?       Hook and Ladder Company #1
   1862-?       Engine Company #1
   1874-?       Eureka Hose Company

   Paid firefighters
   1894-1927 Ten full-time, seven paid/call
   1927-1944 Between fifteen and twenty full-time ten paid/call
   1939 T he City became all paid. Full-time firefighters now covered call duty for twenty-four hours, six men on call
    at a time.
   1944-1959 Twenty six full-time
   1959-1970 Between thirty and sixty five
   1970-1982 Between sixty five and eighty
   1982-2004 Between eighty and one hundred thirty

 Paid/call
 The original paid/call firefighter, from 1894 to 1922, was paid one to two dollars per response to fire calls. When
  the department became fully paid in 1939, full-time firefighters pulled twenty-four hour call duty.

 Apparatus

                        a) First units/non-motorized-
b) Early motorized equipment-

c) Moder n equipment -

To top