Over 1,100 Tallahassee Fire Department images including residential and business fires, fire prevention training in schools and businesses, railroad and aviation accidents, and firefighting equipment, vehicles, and stations
Collection Number: N2009- 4
Creator: Tallahassee Fire Department
Title: Tallahassee Fire Department, 1880s-2005
Quantity: Over 1,000 photographs
This collection consists of over 1,000 Tallahassee Fire Department images including residential and business fires, fire prevention training in schools and businesses, railroad and aviation accidents, and firefighting equipment, vehicles, and stations. The majority of images are of Tallahassee and the surrounding area, though there are a few of Pensacola and Lake City.
Just twenty years after the founding of the Florida state capital, Tallahassee, a fire that began in the Washington Hall boarding house destroyed more than half of the city. Although volunteers saved the new capitol building under construction, and miraculously no one was killed, every downtown business burned in the great fire of 1843.
After other devastating fires, the Tallahassee community purchased equipment, including a fire engine in 1855 and a 250 foot hose in 1860. The city built cisterns throughout and took other preventative steps such as limiting the storage of cotton within city limits. Private and volunteer fire companies, such as the Vigilantes and Hook and Ladder Company, served Tallahassee's need to combat fire during the mid-nineteenth century and Civil War. Then in 1868, the city passed a resolution to appoint a fire chief. In November of that year, T. J. Rawls became the first Fire Chief of Tallahassee.
In 1896, Tallahassee installed its first alarm system, consisting of eight telephones and a bell and in 1900 formed a Fire Committee. Although false alarms were a problem, the growing city experienced enough legitimate fire emergencies to establish additional paid positions to supplement the volunteer firefighters and Fire Chief. In 1920 there were 60 fires in Tallahassee and a new fire station was built at the corner of Park Avenue and Adams Street. By 1930, the Tallahassee Fire Department had six full-time staff members and two trucks.
The city built the Station 1 building at the corner of Adams and Virginia streets in 1971, which is still in use today. By 1989 there were 14 stations in Tallahassee. The city added a 15th fire station in 2000 and would experience profound changes in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, being integrated more fully into federal administered disaster response systems. Cindy Dick became Tallahassee's 11th Chief of Fire, and first woman to the lead the department, in 2005.