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Humboldt Fire District History

hfd patchIn August of 1929, Humboldt Fire District was formed. The County of Humboldt purchased a Seagrave fire engine and made an agreement with the City of Eureka to house and provide manpower for this engine in case of a fire within the District. This agreement continued until 1949 when the District's needs had grown and it decided to hire its first Fire Chief Herman E. Mendenhall. Two Firefighters were also hired this same year and the District's fire engine was moved from the city to a horse barn at Redwood Acres. This became the District's first staffed fire station.

Volunteers played a big part in firefighting. The District purchased several fire trailers, known as Snowdens, which were equipped with 50 gallons of water, four fire extinguishers, and 50 feet of three-quarter inch hose. These trailers were situated throughout the District. Volunteers would respond to fires with them, keeping the fires in check until the arrival of the fire engine. By 1956 the District had two 500 gallon per minute pumpers and one water tender. The District hired two more Firefighters and had installed the first radios on their equipment (first in Humboldt County). In 1957, the District built two new fire stations, Headquarters Station on Harris St. and the Bayview Station on Herrick Rd.

The next five years brought two new engines and a number of Firefighters. By 1965, the District had three stations, four engines, and one water tender. The District also had a box type fire alarm system and enjoyed a class five fire insurance rating. In the late 70's, HFD#1 responded to "Proposition #13" with considerable "belt tightening", resulting in a loss of manpower that affects District operations to this day. In recent years, the District has reduced the size of it's aged, multi-vehicle fleet, replacing them with one new engine in 1983, and again in 1989.

In 1993, the District's Mini-Pumper and old water tender were sold. Also about the same time, the District's third fire station (Seaside Station) was sold after having been closed in 1992 because of continued financial restraints. In 1995, the District took delivery of its current water tender. In the 1990's, the District tried unsuccessfully to return to its one time high staffing level of 19 Firefighters, and four administrative personnel. Various state and county requirements have worked to hold the District's available revenues down, prohibiting expansion equal to the growth in area developments.

In 2004, voters within the District voted on an approved a new benefit assessment that allowed the department to increase staffing from 14 career firefighters to 18 career firefighter and staff each on duty District fire engine with three firefighters apiece adding to their effectiveness and safety while operating at emergency scenes.

In 2009 and 2010, Humboldt Fire was able to replace two of the department's aging staff vehicles and purchase an incident command SUV thereby increasing the command staff's ability to command, control, and mitigate emergencies. 2009 also saw the purchase of a type III fire engine that fills a dual role in response to structure and wildland fires. The type III is a much smaller wheelbase four wheel drive apparatus that is tailor made for many of the rural areas of the Fire District and only served to enhance the service provided.

In April of 2011, HFD's aging Headquarters station will be undergoing a remodel to update the aging facility. A second floor will be added to expand the usable space for the administrative staff and on duty fire crews. Completion is expected to take approximately one year. The remodel of the station will be accomplished at a fraction of the cost of a new station. This is just one more way that Humboldt Fire District acts as responsible stewards of public funds.


Fire Chief Bill Gillespie

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Humboldt Bay Fire
533 C St
Eureka Ca 95501
Phone (707) 441-4000
Fax (707) 441-4133