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.