On July 4th, 2022, the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department will celebrate our 150th anniversary! We have had the pleasure of protecting our city and its residents since 1872, and we look forward to continuing our work for many more years, decades, and centuries to come.
With over 2000 members and 59 fire stations, Dallas Fire-Rescue covers 385 square miles and over 1.3 million Dallas residents. We are more than the small firehouse of our humble beginnings 150 years ago, we now include an All Hazards Department and provide Emergency Medical Services to all of our Dallas neighbors. On average, DFR conducts a total of 50,870 fire inspections for businesses and investigated 1086 fire incidents that resulted in property loss.
Help us celebrate our history, service, vision of safety, and growth by attending our 150th Anniversary events, or support us through sponsorships or our shop.
With roots as far back as July of 1860, when the town of Dallas was destroyed by a fire, the idea of having a fire department stretches farther back than 150 years.
After delays due to the Civil War and Dallas’ reconstruction, Company Number One began fire operations on July 4, 1872, equipped with two hand-pumped engines and ten small extinguishers. Within just three years, Company Number One was joined by Hook and Ladder Company Number Two, and the first horse-drawn steam pumper “Old Silsby” was equipped.
Around 1920, the Companies implemented a two-platoon system of 12 hours on-duty and 12 hours off-duty, as well as replacing all horse-drawn pumpers with American LaFrance and Seagraves Trucks.
1969 marked the first African Americans hired; Fire Operations – Kenneth Parker and Fire Prevention – Milton Washington, with the first Hispanic hired two years later – 1971, Andres Enriquez.
1973 marked another important shift as the first females were hired as Fire Prevention firefighters – Donna Cooper (Bone), Maria Baker (Fortunato), Glenda Roberts, Patricia Rozelle, and Kay Williams.
The second half of the 1970s brought many changes as our EMTs began training as paramedics, we purchased our first diesel-powered engine, the first air masks for firefighters were used, and we began the switch to computer-aided systems.
May of 1978 marked the first female Operations Firefighter – Sherrie Clark (Wilson)
From 1982 to 1983, technology prevailed as video terminal network systems were installed in every fire station, incident reports were all entered electronically, and officers all received portable radios to improve communication on the fireground.
By 1984, Station 10 was opened as the 50th fire station and the pre-cursor to the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Team was placed in Station 15, the High Angle Rescue Team (HART).
From 1987-1988, the Training Facility and Maintenance Shop opened at 5000 Dolphin Road, gas-powered positive-pressure ventilation fans and PAL III Pass devices were assigned to all companies, and the 911 system began operation.
The early 2000s saw many safety improvements for firefighting, including the 2-in 2-out procedure. In July of 2000, the Dallas Fire Department was officially renamed the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department.
Modern changes of the last 15 years include the National Incident Management System, Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams, Locution automated voice systems, Wellness Fitness Programs, and thermal imagers assigned to all engines.
The Price of Service
June 24, 1902
Box 254, Haskell and Simpson – 25 homes damaged or destroyed with the first line of duty death (John Clark).
February 16, 1964
Golden Pheasant Restaurant Fire – Five Alarm Fire with both off-duty shifts recalled to assist. Four firefighters lost their lives in the 1st-floor collapse.
October 9 & 10, 1975
Two firefighters lost on two separate incidents on consecutive days.
December 23, 1975
Athena Towers Fire – Three Alarm Fire where two firefighters lost their lives on the 14th Floor.
Pepper Mill Apartments Fire – Five-alarm Fire with 88 apartments damaged or destroyed and over 100 people left homeless. Building regulations changed to ban untreated wood shingle roofs in new constructions.
February 20, 1977
A Santa Fe train tanker derailed and exploded. BLEVE felt as far away as 10 miles as flames rose several hundred feet in the air and could be seen from 50 miles away.
Summer of 1980
Record-setting heat wave in America. Dallas Fire answered 54 multiple alarm fires in a 79-day span with each of those days averaging 20 grass fires.
August 21, 1981
Two firefighters lost their lives to smoke inhalation when a roof collapse cut off their means of egress.
Free smoke detectors for citizens program was started.
Texas School Book Depository Fire.
February 18, 1985
Metropolitan Savings Building Fire – First Signal 1-7 (recall of all off-duty personnel) in 20 years.
January of 1986
218 Terrace Fire – seven individuals (4 adults and 3 children) lost in a single fire at 218 Terrace. This marked the largest loss of life in a single-family dwelling.
February 25, 1987
One firefighter lost his life fighting a house fire in what investigators determined to be a backdraft.
March 10, 2001
Member dies at the fire station. The first time a heart attack is recognized as an “in the line-of-duty” death.
July 11, 2002
Greatest fire loss in a family dwelling with over $20 million dollars of damage to a 43,000 square foot home.
October of 2014
Dallas Fire-Rescue transported the first known EBOLA patient in the country to the hospital.
July 7, 2016
Active Shooter – Dallas Police (four members) and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (one member) lost their lives to an ambush at a protest march in downtown Dallas. Dallas Fire was involved in both EMS and rescue operations.
May 28, 2019
Ambassador Hotel Fire – historic landmark hotel consumed by fire.
September 29, 2021
Three Dallas Firefighters were critically injured in an apartment explosion.
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Proceeds benefit Dallas Firefighter’s Museum’s historical preservation and fire education including their recently launched capital campaign.