The citizens of Nacogdoches organized the first volunteer fire and rescue in 1907. It was disbanded the same year. On February 29, 1908, the Nacogdoches Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 was reorganized with Ira Link Sturdevant as chief. It was the forerunner of today's fire and rescue.
The constitution and by-laws were adopted March 14, 1908. In 1909, the city constructed a new city hall and fire station giving the department a permanent home as they moved to the south side of the square where the central fire station is now.
The original building was replaced in 1952 with a larger municipal building. Upon completion of the Gladys Hampton Building, the fire and rescue acquired the balance of the building.
Sounding the Alarm
Initially, pistol shots sounded the alarm and summoned the firemen. Although the gunfire was successful, a bell was chosen as a more appropriate means of alert. The first bell was purchased in 1908 from the Baptist church. It was placed on top of the Perkins Building on the north side of the square – the former home of Kennedy’s Jewelry. Reportedly, the bell was sometimes rung by gunshot.
In 1910, the first fire marshal was appointed to conduct inspections and investigations related to fires. Early firefighters were both paid and volunteer. Historic insurance maps identify paid drivers as early as 1910.
First Real Fire Engine
As automobiles gained popularity beginning in 1914, the fire and rescue kept pace. A combination of horse and motor drawn apparatus were used for many years. In 1924, the Nacogdoches Fire and Rescue received its first real fire engine: “Big Bertha,” a 1923 Seagrave, was delivered by train. The custom-built fire engine revolutionized firefighting in Nacogdoches.
The Modern Fire & Rescue
Today’s fire and rescue is a full-service public safety agency. Sixty full-time employees serve the citizens of Nacogdoches, providing emergency response, fire prevention, safety, and arson investigation. The department operates from five fire stations strategically located throughout the city.