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Cedar Rapids Fire Department: Iowa Time Machine June 23, 1894

Iowa Time Machine ⏰: On June 23, 1894, the City of Cedar Rapids officially became a paid department. An outgrowth of a fire fighting history in the eastern Iowa city dating back to 1869, the professional fire department represented a unified fire response for the seat of Linn County.

Volunteer fire departments first organized in the city in 1869, and the first Silsby Steamer Engine featuring 500 feet of hose arrived in Cedar Rapids on March 1 of that year. The engine cost $6,000, and many eager citizens signed up to serve in volunteer units throughout the city. By the 1890s, 11 companies protected the city from fire.

In 1893, the city hired L.M. Ayers to serve as the first paid fire chief. He oversaw defenses, including ten carts, two hook-and-ladder trucks, and a supply wagon. In June of the following year, the city officially created the Cedar Rapids Fire Department as a paid part of city services. Replacing 248 men spread over the eleven companies throughout the city, the twenty-five-year legacy of volunteer fire service in the city ended.

The Cedar Rapids Fire Department started working out of the Central Fire Station on 2nd Street East. By 1899, needs necessitated a new station, and the city acquired land for a new Central Fire Station at B Avenue and 3rd Street Southeast. The first motorized fire apparatus acquired by the city in 1912 represented the continued growth of the city’s fire defenses. By 1917, progress again necessitated a new Central Fire Station.

Another iteration of the Central Fire Station Opened in June 1917. The station served until December 1985. Two more versions followed. First, a location at 222 3rd St. NW housed the department until the 2008 flood. Following the disaster, the newest (current) version of the Central Fire Station opened at 713 1st Ave SE in 2013. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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