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Lufkin Fire Department

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LUFKIN FIRE DEPARTMENT 1888 - Present

  • 1888- Evidence shows that Lufkin’s first volunteer fire department was organized, but it declined over the next several years.
  • 1888- 1900- At this time, equipment mainly consisted of buckets, water barrels, and 160 feet of hose. There were a few water mains and fire hydrants, presumably installed by the railroad.
  • 1900- 1915- C N Humason becomes the first Fire Chief of Lufkin Fire Department.
  • 1900- The department consisted of two hand drawn carts, five hundred feet of 2 1/2 inch hose, two nozzles, and twenty-five volunteers. A small eight by ten building, on Cotton Square, was the home of the department.
  • 1901- May 4th. A devastating fire struck Lufkin, it destroyed all of the business houses on Lufkin Ave. and then struck the H.E. and W.T. Railroad.
  • 1902- An apparent restructuring of the organization occurred, forming the Lufkin Volunteer Fire Department with C N Humason remaining as the Fire Chief. It seems plausible that some sort of reorganization did occur because of the major fires of 1901.
  • 1903- A fire, originating practically at the same location as the fire in May of 1901, burned several businesses, some containing explosives.
  • 1903- 1910 By now the department grew by leaps and bounds. There were two livery stables in town, at the sound of the fire bell they would race with their teams to the fire station and hitch the horses to a hose cart. The first to accomplish the task would receive $5.00 and the other $2.50.
  • 1909- The city purchased a second-hand, horse drawn hose and chemical wagon.
  • 1910- A two story City Hall and Fire Station were built on Cotton Square, the horses used to pull the fire wagons were housed there. This brought about Silvin Root, the first paid firefighter, whose primary job was to care for the horses.
  • 1912- A horse drawn ladder wagon was bought by the city. The wagon was equipped with a forty foot ladder, a forty-gallon chemical tank, and 150 feet of hose. At this time, the department also owned 1,000 feet of hose, a steam fire whistle, and two fire alarm boxes.
  • 1913- On the night of March 2nd, a Sunday, the Southern Pacific depot exploded, remains thought to be human were found to be animal remains. In 1916 the agent was found in California and brought back to Lufkin, he faced charges of insurance fraud. The agent stood trial and was found innocent.
  • 1915- 1926- W.L. Jones becomes the second Fire Chief of the Lufkin Fire Department.
  • 1915- A Ford Model-T truck, sporting a forty-gallon chemical tank, becomes Lufkin’s first motorized apparatus. It was restore in 1976 by firefighters, and is still maintained by the department.
  • 1915- Shortly after the acquisition of the Model-T, an Overland chassis was purchased and combined with the existing ladder wagon, providing a second motorized piece of apparatus.
  • 1917- Lufkin’s first true "pumper" was purchased, an American La France, type 40, triple combination pumper with a 350 gallon per minute pump.
  • 1918- Ottie, Lufkin’s most famous horse, owned by Chief Humason for 32 years, dies at the age of forty-four. She began her work pulling an ice wagon and later servicing the Lufkin Fire Department.
  • 1922- A large fire prompted the purchase of a second American La France pumper, this one with a 750 gpm pump. This piece of apparatus stayed in service for over 30 years.
  • 1926- 1949- Harry Kerr becomes the third Fire Chief of the Lufkin Fire Department. By this time six paid firefighters were on staff supplemented by volunteers.
  • 1929- A new Central Fire Station was completed and new apparatus purchased. The apparatus consisted of a Peter Pirsh 500 gpm pumper and a Peter Pirsh "city service truck", which was equipped with an assortment of ladders and a forty gallon soda acid tank. *Central station is still in service today.
  • 1929- In April, the Ruby Café burned with an estimated loss of $10,000.00.
  • 1930- The Zeagler Mill burned with an estimated loss of $50,000.00.
  • 1934- A large fire, known as the Bledsoe Fire, endangered the entire east side residential area of Lufkin. Strong south winds blew embers over a wide area. After the fire was "tapped out", two homes were destroyed and three more were damaged.
  • 1935- By this time the Fire Department had a paid staff of seven and 25 volunteers.
  • 1936- The Department acquired a Dodge truck fitted with a 300 gallon water tank.
  • 1936- 1981- Roscoe C. Gibson joins LFD as a volunteer and later in 1942 he becomes a paid firefighter. Under Chief Kerr, Gibson becomes LFD's first training officer.
  • 1942- Dr Joe Burch donated a 1937 panel truck to LFD and was stocked with first aid supplies.
  • 1947- The City bought a Dodge two-ton truck and converted it into a booster truck (mini-pumper). This apparatus was equipped with a 500 gpm pump, a 500 gallon water tank, 1,000 feet of 2 1/2 inch hose, and two, 150 foot preconnected hoses.
  • Note- There were many large fires reported in lumber mills and other plants during this era. The most costly fire occurred at Perry Brothers Variety Store and Offices in downtown Lufkin.
  • 1949- Leo Shotwell was named Lufkin's fourth Fire Chief, with ten paid firefighters.
  • 1953- The Department was provided with a 750 gpm Seagrave pumper that remained in service until the early 1980's.
  • Note- A second fire station was built for LFD at a cost of $30,000 and six new paid firefighters were hired, bringing the total to sixteen paid firefighters.
  • 1954- 1969- D.C. McPherson was named LFD's fifth Fire Chief. McPherson served as Fire Marshal from 1949- 1960 and as Fire Chief from 1954-1960.
  • 1959- LFD took delivery of its first aerial ladder, an American La France, along with an American La France 750 gpm pumper.
  • 1960- Station #3 was opened to better serve the east side of the city.
  • 1966- On October 1st, LFD began to provide county wide ambulance services. LFD was one of the first departments in Texas to provide this service. Thirty-eight firefighters were employed at this time.
  • 1969- The city made a major apparatus purchase which consisted of three Ward La France 750 gpm pumpers and three Ward La France 250 gpm boosters.
  • 1969- Norvell Terry served as LFD's sixth Fire Chief from December 1969 until August 1970.
  • 1970- Two new substations were opened. Station #4 and Station #5 were equipped with the apparatus purchased in 1969.
  • 1970- Captain Delane Boddie became LFD's seventh Fire Chief by promotion.
  • 1972- On January 13th, at approximately 5:15 p.m., Lufkin Fire Department was called out to the Mill Supply of Lufkin Industries. Forty-two of LFD's 45 firefighters responded, as well as firefighters from Nacogdoches, Diboll, and Apple Springs. Four pumpers supplied nine 2 1/2 inch hose lines and pumped 800,000 gallons of water. The blaze was Lufkin's most expensive fire, causing an estimated two million dollars in losses.
  • 1972- After working through the ranks, Billy A. Stephens was named LFD's eighth Fire Chief.
  • 1973- On July 5th, around 6:30 p.m. a Polk Oil Company tank truck jack-knifed and overturned. A Tyler FBI agent, Charles Brown, was traveling behind the tanker and crashed into the wreckage. Gasoline was spilled, ignited, and flowed into the storm drains. Agent Brown was killed by the explosion. Firefighters were kept busy tapping out spot fires and protecting businesses at the scene of the wreck. Twelve firefighters, including one from Diboll, and one from Nacogdoches, brought the fire under control in three hours.
  • 1974- A third shift was added to LFD, reducing the average work week from 72 hours to 56 hours. At this time the department was staffed with 57 paid firefighters and 2 volunteers.
  • 1977- On January 2nd, LFD responded to a reported structure fire. First in units were faced with cold northern winds at around 40 mph. The high winds were fanning the flames from the State Welfare Commodities Warehouse to the neighboring Scott Lumber Company. The fire had gained too much headway to save either of the structures. A defensive attack on the fire was taken and off duty firefighters were called in. A total of forty firefighters fought the blaze for 17 hours, an estimated $625,000 loss.
  • 1979- LFD took delivery of a 1979 American La France 1500gpm, triple combination pumper.
  • Note- EMS goes from Red Cross and first aid training to State Certified EMTs.
  • 1982- LFD received an American La France 1500 gpm pumper with a 75 foot ladder. The ladder was pre-piped with a 1000 gpm remote fog nozzle.
  • 1983- LFD upgrades its EMS service by selecting several firefighters to become EMT- Paramedics. This improvement was a major advancement for LFD.
  • 1985- Unfortunately Fire Station #2 was closed due to budget constraints.
  • 1986- Formed Hazmat team trained to the Technician Level
  • 1987- Chief Stephens retires after 33 years of service. At this time the department was 60 firefighters strong.
  • 1987- Kenneth J. "Buzz" Snyder was hired as the ninth Fire Chief of LFD. Chief Snyder came to LFD from Shreveport Fire Department, where he served as Chief of the Fire Prevention Bureau. Chief Snyder was the key in the implementation of Hazardous Material Control, better known as Hazmat-Mat.
  • 1988- Contracted EMS and Heavy Rescue with Angelina County.
  • 1990- LFD took delivery of a 1990 FMC 1500 gpm pumper. It was the last custom made fire engine produced by the company.
  • 1992-Electronic billing implemented for major insurance companies\Computerized reporting to the Texas Fire Commission and Texas Dept of Health\Pete Prewitt becomes Lufkin Fire Department's 10th Chief.
  • 1993-Computerized fire and EMS reporting- all stations and the Fire Administration\Computerized records in Fire Inspection\ Forty certified paramedics in the department
  • 1994-Fire Department volunteers coordinate the annual Rodeo Parade and Bar-B-Q Cookoff at the Downtown Hoedown.
  • 1995-Police and Fire Departments work together to develop a physical training room to be used by both departments
  • 1996-In-house paramedic training program implemented
  • 1997-Combat Challenge Team takes 2nd place in the state.
  • 1998-Staffing increased: 12 additional fire fighters/paramedics hired. Opened Fire Station 6 in November 1998, located in base of 2 million gallon water storage tank on Whitehouse Dr. (see Feb. ’99 Fire Chief Magazine). LFD instrumental in organizing Fire Academy at Angelina College.
  • 1999- LFD joins World Wide Web.
       
  • 2001- The terrorist attack on 9-11-01 brought new responsibilities to the Lufkin Fire Department, including testing capability for anthrax and other bio agents.   Lufkin Fire Department also provides advanced technical capabilities such as infra-red scanning devices which provide visibility in the pitch-black atmospheres of structure fires and other emergencies.
     
  • 2004 - Numerous grants received, for emergency equipment, from Homeland Security, including infrared cameras, gas detectors, protective clothing, self contain breathing apparatus, etc.

     

  • 2005 -  Grant approved, $640,000.00, 990% funded by FEMA, for new Aerial Platform Truck, to be delivered in the winter of 2006.  Total grants received, past 4 years (including Aerial Platform):  approximately $1 million dollars. 

  • 2007- Moved from Old Station 4 on the Loop into new Station 4 on Trailwood. Placed Platform into new Station 4.

  • 2008- Received first Pierce Fire Engine with Compressed Air Foam System, later retrofitted to Rowe CAFS system. Received grant for FireBlast 451 Simulator Training Trailer.

  • 2009- Danny Kistner from Garland Fire department named 11th Chief of department. Chief Kistner was instrumental in forming 2 man Engine companies, creating an EMS consortium within the Medical Community, facilitating the ISO audit and starting the new Station 3 project.

  • 2010- Ordered 2 new Pierce Arrow XT Engines with Rowe CAFS. They are the new Engine 5 and 6.

  • 2011- Took delivery of the new Pierce Engines and new Pierce Special Operations/HAZMAT apparatus. Chief Ted Lovett named 12th Chief of the department.

  • 2012-  New Station 3 opened housing Truck 3, Engine 3, Rescue 3, and Med 3.  Honor Guard established representing Lufkin Fire with Funerals, ceremonies, and public service events.