Spokane Fire Station No. 1: Establishing a Professional Force

Although the professionalization of the Spokane Falls Volunteer Fire Department was emerging years before the Great Fire of 1889, it wasn't until a few months after when the City passed an ordinance officially professionalizing the Spokane Falls Fire Department. On January 1, 1890, the new No.1 was sworn in by the City's first paid fire chief, E.P. Gillette.

Once described as "virtually a barn," the building was relocated from its volunteer location to its 418 W. First Avenue location and modernized from a rough-hewn wooden structure to a brick and mortar construction. The building housed eight firefighters and three horses.

In its prime, the station was a thing of splendor, so much that it was scrutinized for being more lavish than functional. With beautiful red brick, ornate decorations, molded tin ceilings, and a polished brass pole descending from the 2nd floor dormitories to the 1st floor, the firefighters stationed at No. 1 protested they could not find anything practical about it.

This building quickly proved to be too small for the growing needs of Spokane's firefighters. The fire department soon started operating motorized fire engines in 1911, and measuring 32x76 feet, the bay doors were not wide enough to accommodate the new apparatus.

Across the street from No. 1 was Chinatown, with Acting Mayor Tai Gee. Whenever No. 1's company went out on a call, Gee would send someone to watch the station and equipment. If it were cold out, the watchmen would close the bay doors and have a warm fire ready for the firefighters when they returned.

Exactly forty-three years to the day, on January 1, 1933, Station No.1 was closed down with three other stations to make one newer and larger station. The Spokane Fire Department headquarters and newest Station No. 1 are located blocks away on Riverside Avenue.

Images

Spokane Fire Station No. 1, 2013

Spokane Fire Station No. 1, 2013

Photo Courtesy of Eric Hatton, Spokane, WA. View File Details Page

Spokane Fire Station No. 1, 2013

Spokane Fire Station No. 1, 2013

Paint chipping away to expose original brick. Photo Courtesy of Eric Hatton, Spokane, WA. View File Details Page

Spokane Fire Station No. 1

Spokane Fire Station No. 1

No. 1's horse-drawn days. Photo Courtesy of Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room, Spokane, WA. View File Details Page

Spokane Fire Station No. 1 Personnel

Spokane Fire Station No. 1 Personnel

The pride of the department, "Barney & Mage" pulled the hosewagon over rough unpaved roads in the 1890s. The driver is N.C. Gillette with Captain Frank Windsor beside him on the driver seat. Standing below, left to right, L.J. Meeks and John Lynch. Photo Courtesy of Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room, Spokane, WA. View File Details Page

Spokane Fire Station No. 1 Original Structure

Spokane Fire Station No. 1 Original Structure

No. 1's first hose reel and horse team. Photo Courtesy of Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room, Spokane, WA. View File Details Page

Spokane Fire Station No. 1 Extension Ladder

Spokane Fire Station No. 1 Extension Ladder

Spokane Fire Department's first extension ladder truck; a 75-foot Preston drawn by horses "Prince & Charley." Driving is Frank Allen with George Squires accompanying him on the seat. Standing on the side is Asa Hunter and Dan Collins as the tillerman in the rear. They are standing in front of the Catholic church on Main at the east end of Washington. Pictured in 1894. Photo Courtesy of Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room, Spokane, WA. View File Details Page

Spokane Fire Station No. 1 Personnel

Spokane Fire Station No. 1 Personnel

Fire Station No. 1 in the 1930s. Photo Courtesy of Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room, Spokane, WA. View File Details Page

Spokane Fire Station No. 1

Spokane Fire Station No. 1

Fire Station No. 1 in 1965, owned by Riley Candy Co., but sold to Walker and McGough architecture firm for restoration to its 1930s design. Photo Courtesy of Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room, Spokane, WA. View File Details Page

Spokane Fire Department President of the Board of Commissioners

Spokane Fire Department President of the Board of Commissioners

Mr. Robert E. Clarke. Appointed July 11, 1899. Photo Courtesy of Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room, Spokane, WA. View File Details Page

Spokane Fire Station No. 1 Personnel

Spokane Fire Station No. 1 Personnel

Image Courtesy of Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room, Spokane, WA. View File Details Page

Spokane Fire Department Chief

Spokane Fire Department Chief

A.H. Myers, 1887 chief of the department, organized and equipped a hook and ladder company after Hose Company No. 2 was created. Image Courtesy of Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room, Spokane, WA. View File Details Page

Spokane Fire Department Personnel

Spokane Fire Department Personnel

Image Courtesy of Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room, Spokane, WA. View File Details Page

Spokane Fire Department Personnel

Spokane Fire Department Personnel

Late 1880s-90s. Image Courtesy of Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room, Spokane, WA. View File Details Page

Spokane Fire Station No. 1 Personnel

Spokane Fire Station No. 1 Personnel

Men at Station No. 1. Image Courtesy of Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room, Spokane, WA. View File Details Page

Spokane Fire Station No. 1, First Paid Crew

Spokane Fire Station No. 1, First Paid Crew

No. 1's first professional crew in 1890. Those present: George Sanders, Tom Lathrop, Fred Reumer, J.M. Rite, Rollo Harbord, George Chapman (later a captain and killed in a fall from a ladder while fighting a fire), Fred Wentworth, A.C. Salmon, J. Darwin, Ed Stopher, J. Coverley, L.J. McAtee, Frank Aikin (captain of No. 1), H. Gillette, Robert Wilson (later a veteran police officer), Fred Winsor, J.C. Boyd, W.C. Gillette (then chief of the Spokane Fire Department), J. Willage, J.W. Draper, J. Bennett, Sam Fiver, Frank Gillette, Frank Morrison, Dan Collins, A. McCurn, S. Haynes, H.K. Harrison and Frank Tailor. The chief is in the center with this hand in his coat. Photo Courtesy of Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room, Spokane, WA. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Caitlin M. Shain, “Spokane Fire Station No. 1: Establishing a Professional Force,” Spokane Historical, accessed June 25, 2017, http://spokanehistorical.org/items/show/257.
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