SHREVEPORT FIRE DEPARTMENT

History of

The first known type of fire protection was in 1837, when a volunteer bucket brigade was organized with the men in the brigade furnishing their own buckets and forming a line from the nearest water source to the fire. September 11, 1839, nine days after the first council meeting of the city, the first fire regulations were passed pertaining to blacksmiths, bakery shops, maintenance of chimneys, etc. There was a fine of $5.00 for each and every offense. The first Shreveport volunteer fire company was formed on July 23, 1849, but that is all that is known.

CHIEF

Brian Crawford

TBD - TBD

CHIEF

Craig Mulford

TBD - 2015

CHIEF

Unknown

TBD - TBD

CHIEF

Unknown

TBD - TBD

CHIEF

Unknown

TBD - TBD

Previous Chiefs

2000s

Chief Cochran successfully passed a bond initiative in 2001 to build three fire stations - including a new Dallas W. Greene Central Fire Station and Administrative Offices, and renovate a new Fire Maintenance facility. Firefighter staffing and pay also increased during Chief Cochrans tenure. Cochran is also credited with significantly increasing the departments EMS capabilities by increasing the number of Medic Units (ambulances) from 7 to 10, implementing 5 ALS Engines, and adding an additional Medical Director. Chief Cochran retired from Shreveport in 2007 to become the Fire Chief in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2009, President Barak Obama appointed Chief Cochran as the United States Fire Administrator.

In 2008, Chief Brian A. Crawford was appointed by Mayor Cedric B. Glover as Fire Chief. A 24-year veteran, Crawford had served as the Assistant to the Fire Chief under his predecessor for the six years prior to his appointment. In his young tenure Crawford is credited with placing increased emphasis on the Emergency Operations through opening Station #22 and entering into the department's first Automatic Aid Agreement with Caddo Fire District 5, both increasing coverage to the southeast of the city; opening the new Fire Maintenance Facility at 7300 Mansfield Road; placing two Semi-Heavy Truck companies in service; and having the department go to a more effective 5.11 tactical work uniform. In 2009, Crawford along with Bossier City Chief Sammy Halphen led efforts and secured Louisiana's Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) Task Force III team for the Shreveport/Bossier City area. Crawford also stepped-up the department's fire prevention efforts by commissioning a public/private Fire Safety Task Force, implementing the Neighborhood Smoke Detector Installation Program, and passing legislation requiring all apartments to install automatic stove-top fire extinguishing systems.

 

 

 

 

 


Chief Crawfords plan to save the city thousands of dollars by using special cars to answer EMS calls instead of fire engines took a major step forward when Willis Knighton Health System donated $700,000. It was enough money to purchase sevenspecial EMS cars called SPRINTs and the medical equipment that they will carry. SPRINT stands for Single Paramedic Rapid Intervention Non-Transport. The first SPRINT Car was placed in service by Chief Crawford at Station 9 in the first part of January, 2010. Two additional SPRINT Cars were placed in service on July 22, 2010 at Station 1 (Central) and Station 8. The smaller vehicles will save a great deal of money on maintenance and fuel cost compared to the larger fire engines.  More SPRINTs are to be added in 2011.

1900s

The two-platoon for working firefighters was started in January 1, 1920 and by the middle of the century the present day three-platoon system was in place. The fire losses were so heavy in these early years and up into early 1900s that many insurance companies closed their Shreveport offices and moved.  The insurance companies that remained put the insurance rates so high that it was practically impossible to have coverage. Eventually, the streets were paved and the fire department changed from mules to horses because of their speed.  They were also easier to train than mules.  It generally took about two weeks for a horse to be trained for fire horse duties. In 1897 the first fire alarm boxes were installed; one each, at three local refineries,  and three in the downtown area. On January 10, 1910, the fire department received its first piece of motorized equipment; an auto-chemical wagon with an engine rating of 55 horsepower and more motorized equipment was gradually bought until all of the horses were retired in 1917.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On September 4, 1925, one of the worse fires in Shreveport's history occurred when a hot water heater exploded and caught a house on fire. Although Fire Station No. 4 was located across the street from the house, a broken water main prevented the firemen from effectively fighting the blaze. A train with tank cars filled with water was brought to the area, but by the time the train was put together and the tank cars filled with water, it was too late. The fire had quickly spread and between 9:00pm on the 4th and 6:00pm on the 5th, a total of 9 city blocks and 194 homes were lost. Many people were left homeless, but no lives were lost. The first fire chief was Arthur Tombs who was appointed in 1891, but served only three months.  The second chief was Robert Grubbs who served one year till 1892.  Thomas Bresenham was the third fire chief and he served until 1902, at which time Chris OBrien was named chief.  In 1923 Chief O Brien retired after serving over twenty years.  S.J.Flores was then appointed chief. He held the position for 23 years and retired in 1946.  The seventh chief was Floyd Kendrick who headed the fire department until 1954. 

 

 

 

In 1954, W. J. Cook became chief and he served until Dallas W. Greene was appointed in 1965.  Chief Greene was very well liked and respected by the citizens and made major improvements in the Shreveport Fire Department.  Under Chief Greene the first Rescue Unit was introduced to the department.  He was responsible for the Shreveport fire apparatus color scheme switching from all red to all white to avoid the possibility of having to go to all yellow coloring.  It took many years but all apparatus was eventually painted solid white.  Probably one of the most important accomplishments was having the S.F.D. take over the EMS service for Shreveport.  This was at a time when many fire departments were shying away from such a task.  Chief Greene retired in 1989 after a most rewarding and successful career. 

J. Gordon Routley was appointed fire chief by then Mayor John Hussey.  Chief Routley did not come from within the rank and file of the S.F.D.  but from Canada, and while he had many progressive ideas he did not hit it off well with the firefighters union and was replaced shortly after a new mayor, who was backed by the union members, was elected in 1991.

Dale Martin was appointed fire chief and served from 1991 to 1994.  Chief Martin was a former Chief of the Fire Prevention and was very dedicated to the Shreveport Fire Department.  Chief Martin brought back red to the fire apparatus and also put Federal Q sirens back on all new pumper and hook and ladder rigs.

 

 

Jeri Bo Roberts was appointed chief after Chief Martin.  Chief Roberts brought the fire department up to a Class 1 status.  Chief Roberts retired in 1999. In 1999, Chief Kelvin J. Cochran was appointed as the Departments first African American Fire Chief by Mayor Keith Hightower. Under the Chief Cochran the Department maintained its Class 1 rating.

1800s

The first known type of fire protection was in 1837, when a volunteer bucket brigade was organized with the men in the brigade furnishing their own buckets and forming a line from the nearest water source to the fire. September 11, 1839, nine days after the first council meeting of the city, the first fire regulations were passed pertaining to blacksmiths, bakery shops, maintenance of chimneys, etc. There was a fine of $5.00 for each and every offense. The first Shreveport volunteer fire company was formed on July 23, 1849, but that is all that is known.

On June 17, 1871 the Germania* Hook and Ladder Company #1 organized. Their equipment consisted of carts drawn by man power.  There was a small two wheel hose cart and a small hand pumper. The hand pumper when used had to be operated by two men.

There were other volunteer fire companies organized in later years, Germania Hook and Ladder Company #2, Pelican Hook and Ladder Company #1 and #2, Caddo Companies #1, 2 and 3, Allendale, Columbia, and numerous salvage companies. A bond issue was voted and approved by the people in 1852 to buy one horse drawn fire engine and one hook and ladder wagon. The hand carts gave way to mule-drawn vehicles.  Because of the muddy condition of the dirt streets, mules were more serviceable than horses.  With the introduction of mules pulling the apparatus, larger size hand-operated pumpers were utilized.  It took six to eight men to operate the pump when it was needed.

The first water reservoirs for fire fighting were huge 50,000 gallon under-ground cisterns.  These cisterns were located at Market and Texas, Texas and McNeil, Fannin and Edwards, and Market and Crockett.  There is a chance that some, if not all, of these are still in the same place, but not filled with water.

On January 22, 1867, the steamboat Bart Able arrived with a new steam fire engine for Caddo Company #1.  This fire station was located in the southwest corner of Marshall and Travis, but later was moved to the 200 block of Travis. 

 

The City Hall was built on the northwest corner of Milam and McNeil at a cost of $75,000 in 1872.  The City Hall was in the front portion of the second floor with a farmers market directly underneath, and Caddo Company #2 occupied the first and second floors at the rear portion of the building.  The firefighters had a pole that they could rapidly slide from their bunk room on the second floor to the apparatus bay.  It was made of solid mahogany that was kept well polished and shined.  The building burned down in 1905.

The first water mains and fire plugs were installed in 1887, by Samuel R. Bullech and Company of New York City.

On January 1, 1891, under the administration of Mayor Andrew Currie, the city took over the volunteer fire companies;  including two horses and six Missouri mules, and hired six regular fireman and fifteen call men and became a fully paid fire department.

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