Corsicana Fire Department
Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas


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Corsicana Fire Department - Late 1920s

In 1855 the Navarro County Court House was destroyed by fire. At that time there were no Fire or Water Departments. The only source of water were underground cisterns at street crossings.

On September 13, 1879 a group of civic minded merchants met to discuss the organization of a fire department. These men were N.J. Mills, C.M. Winkler, A.J. Robins, A.M. Wilson, S.F. Starley, James Garritty, J.M. Eainwater, Miller Tarder, A. Ferguson, Darne, R.P. Goodman, Johnson, J.W. Rogers, Stephen Smith, Kamsler, J.P. Vance, J.Y. Bates, C.W. Jester, Cerf, Raphael, J.J. Strupper, J.B. Stephens, F.W. Carruthers, C.H. Allyn, J.B. Stiteler, C.L. Fewell, A. Fox, C.C. Marshall, U.M. Lee, and Mallory.

 

On December 29, 1879 the first volunteer fire department was organized with 25 town merchants. The department obtained a charter under the name of "Corsicana Hose Company #1". J.J. Strupper was the department's first Chief and Abe Mulky, Assistant Chief. The department was equipped with buckets and ropes. Later a hand pump drawn by 2 horses was aquired. This pump took 4 men to operate it.

In 1892 F. N. Drane was Chief. He obtained from the city a new fire engine, one hook and ladder, two horse drawn carriages, and six fine horses. He also obtained from the city a new building in which to house the department. He bought 2300 feet of hose and a $1600 sound alarm bell. During his tenure, Chief Drane saw a need for an extended water supply. Deep wells were bored and at 2200 feet a hot mineral spring was found. This well greatly increased the water supply for fire protection, but the water could not be used for drinking purposes. In 1892 there were 16 volunteer firefighters.

In 1923 the city lake (Lake Halbert) was dug. It was at this time that the lake was used as the primary source of water for fire fighting.

In 1924 our present department was organized and the city went to an all paid department. The fire bell sound alarm was discontinued and an electric alarm system was installed. The steam engine pumpers were discarded and replaced with an automobile truck pumper.

In 1926 the Hook & ladder Companies were disbanded and the present system was begun. The men worked twelve straight days and had the thirteenth day off. In 1943 they worked seven days and the eighth day off. In 1946 they would work two days and have the third day off, then work three days and be off the fourth. In 1953 the shifts were changed to work 24 hours and then off 24 hours.

On May 4, 1965 a majority of the firefighters petitioned and won a union charter with the I.A.F.F. Local 1550 was born through the labors of Walter A. Stevenson, David J. Right, William H. Talkington Jr., Wilmer Cottongame, Palmer Allred, Arthur D. Burleson, Bobby G. Clay, Royce A. Owen, Benni M. Yankee, Jimmy D. Coker, J.F. Dennis, Johnny R. Dockery, Victor O. Freeze, William L. French, Ronald L. Garner, William Graham, William B. Hanna, E.W. Matthews, James L. Moore, Jessie Praytor, Leslie L. Rasco, Bill Richardson, and N.D. Ward.

In 1974 the present routine was established. The department went to a three platoon system, working 24 hours and off 48 hours. With Duane Womack's arrival in 1974, the department had a central station and four sub stations. Upon his recommendation one of the sub stations was closed at this time.

The three shifts (A, B & C) had two captains; a shift commander and one station commander on each shift. The shift commander worked out of Central Station. There was a station commander for each of the three sub stations. The C Shift station commander was responsible for station # 3, A Shift station commander for station # 4, and B Shift station commander for station # 5.

In 1986 as the last of the station commanders retired, the position of lieutenant was established. The result of the initial civil service test for that position promoted seven firefighters. Those first lieutenants were Darrell Stevenson, Steve Weber, Don McDaniel, John Barlow, Ricki Crenshaw, Dickie Mullenix and Hubert Dunbar. Presently there are three lieutenants and a captain (shift commander) on each shift.

January 1988 brought Troy England to Corsicana as the new fire chief. He was a retired deputy chief from the Dallas Fire Department. Upon his arrival, the infrastructure of the department changed drastically. A more ordered and disciplined mode of operation came into being; rules and regulations were totally revamped and the department's inspection program was given a much needed re-organization. An incident command system and later an emergency operations accountability system was adopted as standard operating procedures for the department.

January 8, 1999 marked the official start date of Donald McMullan as the next in succession. Chief McMullan came to us as a retired chief from the Lancaster Fire Department. Due to his efforts, a fire safety house was purchased through a grant. The fire safety house was delivered in November of 1999.

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Copyright March, 2009
Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox