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A.F.D. History

From the 1963 Anaheim Fire Department Drill Manual

   The year 1857 proved to be a very busy period for the colonists of Anaheim. It was in this year that the City of Anaheim was incorporated and the City's volunteer fire system was established. A force of twenty men donated their time and energy to make up this organization. For 58 years, the Anaheim Volunteers used primitive equipment on horse-drawn wagons to fight the occasional fires in the City. In 1915 a big step forward was taken by the City when the motorized vehicle was purhased.

  Coupled with the purchase of this small ladder truck, the City Council authorized the employment of two full time firemen. These men worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and made their permanent home at the Anaheim Fire Station.

  Nine years later, in 1926, the first full time Fire Chief was appointed. Also at this time, the Department added two additional full time firemen, which bolstered the total strength of the full time staff to one chief and four firemen. This provided the department with two men on a shift. The two men on the day shift worked ten hours a day; the night shift was on duty for 14 hours a day. Up until 1936, when a relief man was hired, the Anaheim firemen worked seven days a week -- with no provisions for time off or vacations! The Fire Chief was responsible for building inspections, trash collection, and the normal fire duties of a small town.

  To quote the Board of Fire Underwriters in its evaluation of the Department in 1930 will give a more vivid picture of the Anaheim Fire Department. The Board rated the Department in a Class 8. "Organization- fair; appontment and promotion made by Chief with no definite requirements; rules and regulations are few and very incomplete; station is crowded and poorly arranged; pumping capacity is deficient; ladder service - poor; discipline is lax, due largely to lack of proper rules and regulations; Chief's time partly required for other duties; inspections made by Chief are unsystematic and records are not kept." All this produced 2,835 deficiency points in the Department.

  In 1947, the full-time personnel was increased to 7. The total full-time strength remained at 7 until 1950 when the Department moved out of the City Hall to the Sation at 115 East Broadway. In 1950, the City employees voted to become members of the California State Retirement System. At this time, the Council "retired" all employees over 65 years of age. The Chief was one of these individuals who was let go.

  "The Hitchhiking Chief", Ed. Stringer, was appointed on October 1, 1950. Chief Stringer was known thoughout the sate by this nickname because he did not have an emergency car. When the Chief was unable to "hitch" a ride in a police car, he had to make his way to the fires in his unadorned '36 Plymouth, no red light, no siren - indeed not much of anything. This situation was promptly resolved in early 1951, when he arrived at the scene of a fire after the blaze had been put out and the fire trucks were on their way back to the station.

  The Board of Fire Underwriters arrived on the scene two months after Chief Stringer assumed command of the Department. Again, we will quote from the Board's evaluation fo the organization, equipment and general character of the Department. "Anaheim Fire Department organized on the basis of a combination paid and volunteer deparment; supervision is under the Chief but no paid men have been appointed as company officers; rules and regulations are fair but only general in scopes; station facilities are deficient as to dormitory space; records in general are poor - there are no records of building inspections, hydrant tests or hose tests; old fire records are poor and incomplete; there is no fire prevention bureau, inspections are made irregularly by the Fire Chief." Not too encouraging for a new Chief to assume command facing an overall deficiency of 2,948 points, of which 1,116 were assigned to the Fire Department. This gave the City an overall Class 6 and the Department a Class 8 rating.

  Armed with the Board's recommendations to improve his Department, the Chief mad som oraganizational and personnel changes. The position of Fire Engineer was created in 1951; the following year, company officers withe the rank of Captain were established. Radios were installed in the rolling equipment in 1952. Up until this time, it was very difficult to perform in the most efficient manner with no quick emergency communication system. In the 1950's many other advancements were made by the Anaheim Fire Department. One of the most dramatic changes as far as the personnel were concerned came in 1953 when the 24-off, 24-on shift was inaugurated by the Department.

  In 1955, the Fire Prevention Bureau was established to provide the City with a much needed service of inspection and enforcing the Fire Prevention Code. This program was carried on by a Captain.

  The City's Merit System began to take shape in 1956, and the first examination in the City of Anaeim was conducted in April of 1956. Several firemen were appointed as a result of this first endeavor.

  With Anaheim population bubbling up over the 60,000 mark in 1956, Station #2 was built to augment the Headquarters Station. The additional stations were added in the 1950's with the population and area of the City still mushrooming.


Year Built



First Headquarters



2.63 Sq. Mi.

Second Headquarters



3.39 "         "

Third Headquarters



4.38 "         "

Fourth Headquarters
Station #2



19.31 "       "

Station #3



21.56 "       "

Station #4



24.76 "       "

Station #5



26.00 "        "

  In March of 1957, an Assistant Chief was appointed. Captain James Heying earned the Department's number two position over a field of 60 applicants from all over the country. One month later, three Battalion Chiefs were appointed from within the Department; one in prevention and two in suppression. Six Captains were also added at this time. All new positions were filled by competitve examination.

  For 103 years the Volunteer Firemen played an important role in the Anaheim Fire Department. Throughout this period the Volunteers, who maintained a group of 20 men, performed an admirable service to the citizens of Anaheim. The Volunteers continued to be an active group until 1960, when the were disbanded. In 1960, when the number of calls reached nearly a thousand, it was felt that the Department should be comprised 100% by professional technically trained fire personnel.

  The Department's training program was established on a scheduled and intensified basis in 1959, with the appointment of the Department's first Drillmaster. Company drilling was begun and academic training was stressed to prepare the Anaheim Firemen for future promotions. Training is stressed even more emphatically now, in order that the department can proved the ultimate in fire and disaster protection, and the individual members of the Department can strive for higher goals within the organization. It is within the group of men that comprise the Anaheim Fire Department that will come our future Chiefs, Assistant Chiefs, and other high ranking officers.

  Collectively and individually, the men of the Anaheim Fire Department have grown with the City. The Department has progressed over the years from a completely volunteer organization, to a highly technical and specialized group of over 100 full-time devoted firemen. The future looms ahead with nothing in sight but opportunity; oportunity for the Department as a whole and for the individuals who comprise the Department to achieve the goals that they have established for themselves.

This history was obtained from the Anaheim Fire Department Drill Manual (March 1963).
Compiled By: James L. Buskirk, and other members of the Anaheim Fire Department.
Originally written by Ed. J. Stringer

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