The History of Stephenville Fire Department
The Stephenville Fire Department began as just a few men volunteering in the time of need to becoming a city job with the support of a volunteer fire department. The town has watched as the fire department has gone from a small barn with a donkey pulling a water-hose cart to a large home, to many different parts of the city, and now to many different locations distributed throughout our city.
The Stephenville Fire Department began in 1898 on a volunteer level. "One member had to be a doctor and serve as the health inspector for the group" states Jerry Powers, a member of the Stephenville Fire Department and the Volunteer fire department's Chief. After 9 years the city was then able and had the need to have a full-time department. The first firehouse was small, just big enough for the donkeys. When cars became available, the firehouse then increased to an office type building, which was shared with the City Hall, and the police department. Now, there are two fire stations along with a volunteer station by the airport (Stephenville Fire Department Records).
The first paid fireman was J. E. Boiling in 1909, and the first paid doctor on the fire staff was Dr. R. S. Cameron in 1910. Many firemen worked the average workweek. From 9:00 to 5:00 Monday through Friday the crew would work to protect the town. After several years the department needed to have a full 24-hour shift to help cover all areas of town. On December 1, 1970, the longest member of the department was hired. Jimmy Chew who is currently serving as Assistant Fire Chief has helped learn the in and outs of the fire crew from the near beginning.
Since, he has served on the department for 31 years. The second longest member was hired a year later. Jimmy Mooney, who is currently the Fire Chief, has been employed by the fire department since July 1971 (Stephenville Fire Department Record Book). "In 1976, the ambulance service started to be ran by the department, it had long been ran by the funeral parlors around town, then shortly by the police department, and just passed on" states Jerry Powers, adding "When I was first hired we were sent to emergencies with a small black doctors bag, and now to even get in the back of the ambulance you need your Paramedic license."
The Stephenville Fire Department has remained a close-knit family since its establishment. There have only been 76 members employed by the city as of January 12, 2002 (Stephenville Fire Department Record Book). Along with the two fire chiefs, there are two captains, three lieutenants, along with one fire marshal. The department currently employees 26 people, with 8 men working each shift. They work 24 hours and are off for 48 hours, and this includes holidays. The department averages 2,100 calls a year. The firemen also protect 23,800 in this area, while 50% of all fire emergencies are held outside the city limits, 70% of all emergency medical runs are to the senior citizens inside the town (Stephenville Fire Department Records).
The Stephenville Fire Department celebrated their 100th "birthday" in 1998. On September 20, 2000, the department protected a large housing development, saving 10 houses (Grass Fire). On September 21, 2001, the department stationed themselves at Wal-Mart and the Bosque River Center to "Fill the Boot" with donations to the Twin Towers fund (Relief Funds). The Stephenville Fire Department does community work, not only by protecting people, but also by helping people. Every year the fire department educates young kids on fire safety during Fire Prevention Week (Stephenville Fire Department Records). With a long running history, the department has made itself a family to everyone in this town making a daily job for people in their greatest time of need. The department started small like our town, but as time progresses, so do they. As the town grows they grow in size of personnel as well as buildings. As we near a "new" era for technology who knows how great the department will grow and how much it will effect us.