Valley News -

By Kim Harris
Managing Editor 

Hemet Fire Department celebrates 110 years of service to the community

 

Last updated 11/9/2018 at 12:26am

Shane Gibson

Hundreds of people gather for the Hemet Fire Department's celebration of 110 years of service at Fire Station 1, Oct. 25.

Hundreds of Hemet residents converged upon Hemet Fire Department Station 1 to celebrate the department's 110 years of service to the community Thursday Oct. 25.

Residents were treated to a barbecue dinner that was put on by the Friends of Hemet Fire Department and sponsored in part by the city of Hemet and Hemet City Firefighters Local IAFF.

Firefighters mingled with the crowd, some of whom wore plastic junior firefighter hats, as city officials discussed the history of the department and its importance to the community.

According to the city's website, http://www.cityofhemet.org, the Hemet Chamber of Commerce formed the Hemet Fire Department July 29, 1908. The department consisted of 12 volunteers, a two-wheel hose cart, nozzles, buckets, axes, two fire extinguishers and a 30-foot extension ladder. The first fire station was on the northwest corner of Front Street and Florida Avenue, now part of State Street.

Hemet's first fire chief was Julius Spencer, who served as chief for 43 years, from 1908-1916 and 1921-1945. Other founding members of the fire department were Lt. J.A. Ritter, Frank Hann, Fred Heidenrich, W.H. Mann, Mr. Messer, Robert Remmie, R. Parks, Mr. Shaver, J.C. Tickman and Frank Thompson, according to the website.

When Hemet was incorporated into a city in 1910, the fire department became a city function. Although it was a city fire department, it still served areas outside the city limits until about 1933, when California Division of Forestry started serving unincorporated areas of Riverside County.

The department was modernized in 1915 when volunteers built their first motorized fire apparatus using parts from a 1912 Cadillac and their 1901 horse-drawn chemical wagon. A new fire house was also built on North Carmalita Street, allowing the department to serve a larger area including providing assistance to the city of San Jacinto.

The department extended its services in 1932 to include emergency medical care, making its first medical aid run – a call for oxygen at the Soboba Inn in San Jacinto.

Hemet purchased its fourth fire engine in 1963, added a Rescue Company in 1966, built Fire Station 2 in 1968 and added a 100-foot ladder truck in 1975. The Hemet Firefighters Association was formed in 1974 and continues to support a plethora of programs for youth, schools and senior citizens. They also support fire prevention programs, hold fundraisers for burn centers and aid burn victims.

Fire Station 3 opened in 1994, serving the west side of the city. Fire Station 4 opened to serve the citizens in the southwest portion of the city in 2001 and Fire Station 5 opened in the eastern section of the city in 2005.

For more on the history of the Hemet Fire Department, visit http://www.cityofhemet.org/index.aspx?NID=298.

Kim Harris can be reached by email at [email protected]

 

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