Spokane Fire Station No. 2: Spokane's First Firefighters
Spokane's Fire Department began with Station No. 1 and Station No. 2. After forming the Spokane Falls Volunteer Fire Department in 1884, Rescue Hose No. 1, made up of "white-collar men," and Spokane Hose Company No. 2, made up of "working boys," shared the same original meeting place in Glover Hall, later the first wood-frame fire station-located on Howard Street-, and fire equipment.
Finally, in the summer of 1885, the cramped quarters became too much for the two companies. On August 1, volunteers physically moved an old lumber-yard office building from the corner of Howard and First, and positioned it one block away on Howard and Railroad. This relocated building was soon occupied by Spokane Hose Company No. 2. A 1500-pound bell had been purchased by the City Council in June of the same year and was placed in a custom thirty-foot tower situated behind the new Hose House No. 2, and chimed for the department for the very first time on September 11, 1885.
Stations No. 1 and No. 2 succumbed to the Great Fire of 1889, only the bell from Station No. 2 was salvaged. Both companies operated out of tents on Howard and Railroad Avenue after the fire. Their equipment began to rust and fall apart as they were exposed to one of the most severe winters in Spokane history. City officials planned new fire stations. In five months, two new fire stations were designed to house the firefighters and their horses, with plenty of room for their equipment to be protected from the harsh elements.
Station No. 2 has been relocated multiple times, sited variously at Sprague and Bernard, Main and Division, and the N.E. corner of Standard and Indiana. No. 2 housed the hospital for injured and ill horses, and was the only station to have firehouse dogs (according to photo archives). One early twentieth century firefighter distinctly recounted his days as a Station No. 2 firefighter.
In 1978, 93 year old Henry C. Smith, was the oldest living firefighter in Spokane. Hired on in 1918, Smith was first assigned to Station No. 7, however within two weeks was transferred to No. 2, then located on Standard and Indiana. In his twenty-three years of service, he remained there until his retirement.
Endearingly termed "the old people's home," Smith playfully described No. 2 as the station firefighters went when they were old, and ready for retirement; Smith was 33 years old at the time of his transfer. Smith would probably have thought differently if he knew the lengths the first volunteer firefighters went in order to establish professional stations, including moving a building by hand.