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History of our Fire District

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As the landscape of early Estacada changed so did the need for fire protection. In early 1904, the Oregon Water Power Townsite Company (OWPTC) planned and created what would eventually become the City of Estacada. The OWPTC constructed the early water system. This system included a reservoir on Regan Hill as well as two fire hydrants. The first hydrant was placed at S.E. 3rd Avenue and S. Broadway and one at S.E. 1st Avenue and S. Broadway Street (near the old Hotel Estacada).

Records indicate that the railway company constructed the first fire station, purchased firefighting equipment and organized volunteers. The records are vague, but they give some indication that the department was organized in 1901.

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One of the earliest known photos of Estacada, taken about 1906, shows a small pitched roof building on northeast corner of the block where the Hotel Estacada was located (now the intersection of S.E. Main Street and S.E. 4th Avenue). This small building was housed two industrial hose carts, bunker gear, and tools. The fire bell (located above the current fire station) was purchased in December 1904. It was used to alert volunteers to respond to fires. The bell is 34 inches in diameter and at the time cost $45.00. In early 1905 a bell tower was erected near S.W. Zobrist Street S.W. 4th Avenue (behind the Trails Inn Cafe).

Eventually the fire station was moved to a location near at S. Broadway Street and S.E. Third Avenue where the Farmer’s Market is today. This location was also city hall. The station had a new bell tower and was used to hang wet fire hose to dry. This location was in use for approximately 30 years. In 1923 a major fire burned a half several buildings on the east side of Broadway. It started in a pool hall and spread north towards the fire station and south. Fortunately the fire was brought under control by the volunteers.

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The first motorized fire truck was a 1922 Ford Model “T”. The volunteers at that time used their ingenuity and converted it to a fire engine. They then added ladders and tools to make it more useful. The truck provided many years of service before being taken out of service.

In 1938 a new city hall/fire station was constructed. This building is still in use today. Fire engines sat in where city offices are currently in use. If you look on the north side of the building, you can see the arches where apparatus doors once stood. The upstairs of the building was used for fire department meetings, offices and storage. A fire pole used to quickly get to the fire engines from the second floor was removed sometime in the 1950’s. A dome was constructed on top of the building to house the old fire bell. An electric siren was placed on top of the dome and is still in use today on the current fire station bell tower.

The first new fire engine was purchased by the city during the construction of the new building. It had a 500 gallon tank, a 500 gallon per minute pump, and was built by the Howard Cooper Company. The engine was delivered to the City of Estacada on August 31, 1938.

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By this time there were two fire departments protecting the area; the Estacada city fire department and the Currinsville-Cazadero Rural Fire Protection District. In the 1960’s both fire agencies were combined. The city hall station had served the area for 26 years. Now a much larger station was required so that equipment could be moved from area barns to a centralized and secure building. The current Estacada Fire main station was built in 1964 by funds obtained from a bond. Some features of the current building included inside water pipes to fill fire apparatus instead of connecting to a hydrant, a public entrance for quicker service, a large front pad to aid in fire apparatus cleaning and testing, and a service shop with an exhaust removal system. At the time, these were new concepts for fire stations, but now seem common place.

In the 1960’s through the early 1980’s the present fire station was more than just a fire station; it held dances, weddings, casino nights, and many other social and community events. In 1964 the Fire District responded to 100 calls a year, there were no full-time firefighters and no volunteers that stayed the night at the fire station. Today we respond to over 1,300 calls for service, have 11 career staff and 40 volunteers. There are a minimum of 2 people on duty 24 hours a day. The dynamics of the fire service and EMS have changed significantly since the station was constructed. Today, over 70% of the calls handled by the Fire District are calls for emergency medical help. These types of calls require prompt response. Volunteers are encouraged to assist with 24 hour duty coverage at the fire station to ensure that apparatus respond quickly to the needs of the public.