Iowa History Daily: June 23 - Cedar Rapids Fire Goes Pro

Iowa History Daily: 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.

With volunteer fire departments first organizing in the city starting in 1869, the first Silsby Steamer Engine featuring 500 feet of hose arrived in Cedar Rapids on March 1 of the year. $6,000 bought the engine, 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 for the city. 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 came to an end.

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

Opened in June of 1917, another iteration of the Central Fire Station Opened. The station served until December of 1985. Two more versions followed. First, a location at 222 3rd St. NW housed the department until the Flood of 2008. 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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