Spokane boomed in the 1890s. Mining, timber, agriculture, and transportation fueled the growth of the city, from less than twenty thousand in 1890 to thirty-seven thousand ten years later. A growing city needed enhanced fire protection, and so Fire Station No. 3 was built in 1899.
The building was controversial. The city had just constructed an older No. 3 in 1887-a building that was razed to make way for the county courthouse. Locating the new station became a tug of war between the fire department, city commissioners, and "real estate sharks." At one point the fire commissioners remarked that the chairman of the relocation committee "is no practical firefighter" for wanting to put the station on a busy carline.
While the new station was being constructed, Chief Frank Winebrenner was not in favor of abandoning the north side altogether. "If they can't move the old building, I am in favor of building a tent for a temporary station. Anything would be better than nothing at all. The fire department lived in tents in this city once to my recollection."
The station was able to fit a hose wagon, steamer engine, and five horses with their hay and other apparatus. It was also used to build and maintain fire department equipment, along with police department, and water works equipment. Many of the firefighters designed and built the equipment from scrap and spare parts.
The firemen slept in the loft while the horses were stabled downstairs in the rear; their harnesses suspended from the ceiling ready to be dropped down on their backs and latched in mere seconds.