Spokane Fire Station No. 8: Firemen Tournaments

Built almost identical to Station No. 7 around 1911, Station No. 8 was located on the northeast corner of Sinto and Cochran. It closed in September of 1933, and was razed by 1936, not to be rebuilt again until 1957 in an effort to spread out stations across Spokane and reduce response times. Like every other station, No. 8 was dedicated to training fire personnel. The "drill tower" was located next to No. 8, and provided reoccurring training for Spokane firefighters.

Training has always been an important part of any fireman's life, and the men often turned training into competitions, particularly between fire companies. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, firefighting competitions were popular entertainments in Spokane.

Spokane Hose Company No. 2, called the "Tigers," competed in numerous state tournaments. The Spokane Falls Comet hose team, also competed in the same competitions. In 1887, the Firemen's Tournament was held in Spokane Falls, W.T. The 700 foot straightaway hose race was the most anticipated contest, and drew in 3,500 spectators. The 1st place prize was $250, and $75 for 2nd place. Competing against Walla Walla, Tacoma, and Seattle, the Spokane Comets were expected to win. However, in a dramatic finale, tied with Walla Walla, and had to split the cash prizes. Speed and precision were everything in winning these races, and illustrative of a well-trained and successful fire department.

These companies were run more like lodges. Members voted in new participants and ousted those that did not pay their dues. They incorporated a system of fines for intoxication and disobedience of orders and neglect of duty at fires. A company constitution and bylaws were drafted and adopted, declaring their purpose as: "The extinguishment of fires and protection to life and property."

Station No. 8 continued the rigorous training necessary to place the Spokane Fire Department at the forefront of a well-trained and well-managed fire department. After all, any firefighter who could not wake up from the sound of the alarm and get to the engine bay in less than twenty-five seconds "was made miserable for the rest of the week."

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