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Official page for the Irving Fire Department. Please dial 9-1-1 for emergencies. NOTE- This site is not monitored 24/7.
845 W Irving Blvd
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It is believed the Irving Fire Department (IFD) got its beginning in 1921, though there is no way to officially confirm this. Since there is no official documentation to confirm the timing of this event, the time of inception for the department is listed as the year 1925. This is verified on an official receipt for fire hose. Nevertheless, a year before the origination of the Irving Fire Department, a lump of burning coal fell on the floor of the schoolhouse, which brought attention to the need for fire protection within the community. A meeting was held in a local store and funeral parlor owned by Mr. R.V. Leach, located at the corner of First and Main Streets. At this meeting, Mr. Leach was elected Chief and Mr. W.D. (Dewey) Hodges was hired to be a fire guard at night for the cotton yard. Dewey, who was still in high school, was paid 50₵ a night. The State of Texas Fire Insurance Board decided Irving would need 20 volunteers for their fire department. Irving, a town of only one square mile was bordered on the east by Britain St., Lively St. (now Pioneer Rd.) to the north, on the west by Iowa St. (O’Connor Rd.), and Kit-Lonestar (Sixth St.) on the south.
Those first 20 men became Irving’s first fire Department, and was organized as a bucket brigade. The first fire equipment the volunteers had was a four-wheel pull-cart on which they mounted a hand operated pump with a 20 gallon water barrel. They also had a few buckets, brooms, gunny sacks, a small ladder, and an axe. The cart was stored in a downtown garage donated to the volunteers.
In 1926 the volunteers got their first piece of motorized equipment, a 1919 Model T Ford truck. They removed the old bed and built a new wooden bed with side steps for the men to stand on. The volunteers added a pressure pump, a water barrel for a tank, a hose bed with 250 feet of 2 ½ inch hose, a few buckets, brooms, a ladder and an axe. Someone borrowed a nozzle from a new Dallas fireman named Penn, who later became Chief of the Dallas Fire Department. The Model T truck had solid rubber tires, two gears (low and high), and a top speed of 25 mph. On the truck’s first run they ran into a sand pile and almost everything was thrown off the truck. The volunteers quickly put everything back on the truck and went on to the fire. Fortunately, no one was hurt – except the driver’s pride – which took a beating for quite some time.
During this time, the fire calls were reported to the police by phone, or by word of mouth. The volunteers were alerted by a siren and light located on the old water tower downtown. Mr. Leach donated a siren off of one of his funeral home ambulances, but it wasn’t loud enough to be heard everywhere in town, so the volunteers bought larger one and mounted it on the tower.
One siren blast was for a fire in town. Two blasts on the siren indicated a fire in the country. Three blasts alerted everyone to come running because there was an extreme emergency. The first volunteer to arrive at the station was the driver. He was responsible to find the location of the fire and write it on the blackboard for the rest of the responding volunteers arriving after him. The siren was blown each and every time there was a fire reported. Once, during the grass fire season, the volunteers were as many as twelve fires behind.
To be a fireman was an honor and privilege not to be taken lightly. These men elected each other to positions in the department such as Chief, Treasurer, and Captain. Whenever there was an opening in the department, which was not very often, there was a waiting list of men wanting to fill that position.
Each volunteer was required to attend meetings, drills, and fires. If anyone missed too many drills or fires, he would lose a year of seniority and some of his retirement time. Meetings were held on Tuesday at City Hall. During the summer, the meetings were held under an old oak tree across from City Hall, the building now known to most people as Central Fire Station. These men paid into their own retirement fund with the State of Texas, paid dues, and in the beginning purchased their own equipment.
In 1926, the year they got their fire truck, Tom Pemberton (Uncle Tom) hired the engineering firm of Kooch & Fowler to install the City’s first water system and first fire plugs. Uncle Tom then went to the Texas A&M Fire School to learn how to pump from the new fire plugs. He was the first member of the volunteers to go to this school and was also the first Water Commissioner of the City.
In the early thirties, the volunteers had a picnic to raise money. With this money, Chief Leach bought each fireman a siren for his car. In the mid 30’s Earl Sargent became the first Irving volunteer to become a State of Texas Certified Fireman. He went to the Texas A&M Fire school for 40 hours and took a test for his certification.
Also in the mid 30’s the old Model T was raffled off at 25₵ a chance. The man who won the vehicle later sold it for $35.00. The money raised by selling the Model T was used to buy a used REO fire truck from the Mineral Wells Fire Department. The old REO was equipped with a pump and hose although the pump wasn’t very dependable and gave the volunteers trouble the whole time they had this engine.
In the early 40’s the volunteers bought a used 1936 one and a half ton Chevrolet truck. They bought this truck mainly as a grass wagon. It had a 500 gpm pump and a 250 gallon water tank. It was also equipped with its own hose and ladders. The fire station had only one stall at this time, so the grass wagon was parked outside under a big oak tree behind the station. To protect it from the elements it was covered with a tarp.
During the war years there was no problem for the City to get gas for the fire equipment, but the volunteers didn’t have it so easy. They were given their allotment of gas coupons the same as everyone else. When they started to run low before their next allotment, they had to scrounge around for more stamps if they didn’t want to run out. Irving was a farming community and most volunteers knew a friendly farmer who would let them have a few stamps.
The volunteers had to pay for all of their maintenance for their cars. Tires were not as easy to come by as gas. One volunteer’s tires were 11 years old and had been patched too many times to count before he could get new ones.
In the mid 40’s the volunteers bought a war surplus International tanker truck from the government. It had two separate water tanks that held a total of 600 gallons. It also had a gasoline powered pump. It was housed in a storage stall behind the station.
The Irving volunteers used to go to “Pumper Races” all over Dallas, Tarrant, and surrounding counties. These five-man teams usually performed well and were considered one of the teams to beat. They would go to the host city for the contest and make a day of racing other teams from all around Texas. After the races the host volunteers invited the teams to a picnic or barbeque, where the firemen would socialize and get to know people from all over.
In the early forties the volunteers’ firefighting gear was not very sufficient. Chief Leach bought rubber slickers for the men, but the volunteers were required to acquire their own hats and boots. Some used fishing waders, especially in the winter.
The 1950’s brought a lot of changes to the fire department. The first new fire engine, a 1951 model Mack Fire Truck with a 750 gpm pumper, was purchased that year. This engine was used only to answer structure fire calls. In 1953 the City hired its first full time fireman and fire marshal. Bill Dorety was the first paid fireman, and James D. (Pistol) Mitchell was the first Fire Marshal. Mitchell was a volunteer for four years before the city hired him. He was the President of Dallas County Fire Investigators Association, and was an instructor at the Texas A&M fire school for 27 years, where he was in charge of the Fire Marshal section. He was also a member of the National Fire Protection Association for 27 years. A few years later, when the City of Irving decided to hire their first paid Fire Chief, Mitchell would serve as the city’s first paid interim Fire Chief until the selection was made for the permanent position.
In 1954 the City hired four more full time men. These men worked eight hour days. At five o’clock all but one of these men went home, though they were still on call for fires. The one remaining fireman had a stove, icebox, and a bed to sleep in between calls.
When the fire department began to hire firemen in the early fifties, the men were hired from within the volunteers. The volunteers did not replace the men who left their ranks, and in 1958 the volunteers were phased out of the fire department. The retirement fund was turned over to the paid men by the volunteers with the understanding that the volunteers would get a retirement payment from the fund as they reached retirement age.
In 1953 the City remodeled Central Fire Station to accommodate four pieces of equipment. An area for the firemen was built, and a flagpole was installed. In 1954 the City bought a 1954 Ford 500 gpm engine. This was the City’s first new pumper, and it was used to respond to all fire calls.
E.F. Cronan, a retired captain from the Dallas Fire Department, was hired as Fire Chief on October 3, 1955. He was the first paid Fire Chief for Irving. He guided the department through the years of transition from a volunteer to a full paid fire department.
During this time the first radio equipment was installed on the fire equipment and in the department facilities, and the first equipment to get a radio was a 1951 Chevrolet that had the pump and hose bed from the old 1936 Chevrolet.
Uncle Tom died in 1954 of natural causes. He was the first volunteer firefighter from Irving to die. He was buried in his fire gear, as he had requested. The volunteer firemen were his pallbearers, and the Dallas Fire Department sent an engine to Irving to provide fire protection for the city so all Irving firefighters could attend his funeral. The Irving Police Department provided an escort, and the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department filled in for the Irving police and dispatcher so they could also attend the funeral.
Station 2 was built in 1956, and Station 3 was built in 1957. Both stations were staffed with paid firefighters. Also in 1957, the fire department got its own radio frequency and started to dispatch its own equipment. The city bought home receivers for the off-duty men so they could tell when they were needed at a fire without having to be called on the telephone.
In the mid 50’s the fire department had two Dalmatians given to them. One of the dogs went to Station 2 and the other to Station 3. The dogs were named after the fire trucks at the station. The dog at Station 2 was named Maxine after the Mack engine, and Francine at Station 3 was named after the Ward La France engine assigned there.
In 1959, Black’s Funeral Home donated a 1956 Ford panel truck to the fire department for use as an ambulance. It was painted red, had a power plant, oxygen bottles, and a resuscitator. The old ambulance was called Car 25 and answered rescue calls from Central Station.
Station 4 was built and staffed in 1960. During the sixties the Irving radio would “skip”. It would pick up calls from Pennsylvania and California, and the fire departments in those areas would receive calls from Irving. The firemen in Irving went out on some of those calls – the firemen from Pennsylvania and California went out on some of the Irving calls.
1967 was a big year for the Irving Fire Department. The hours the firemen worked were changed from 24 on/24 off to 24 on/48 off. That year, the size of the department almost doubled and the first aerial truck was put in service – a 1953 American La France 75 ft. aerial ladder purchased from Flowertown, Pa.
Station 5 was built and staffed in 1967, and in 1968 Chief Cronan retired and Chief L.M. Williams was hired. Chief Williams was the Training Chief for Grand Prairie Fire Department when hired by Irving on February 26, 1968.
The first snorkel was also put in service that year – a Seagraves Pitman 75 ft. snorkel. In 1969 an Assistant Fire Marshal was hired, and in 1970 staff was hired for Fire Station 6. At the same time, four inspectors were also hired.
In 1974, a manpower squad was put in service. The following year (1975), Station 1 was built and staffed. A year later, in 1976, the Irving Fire Department took over the ambulance service for the city. Initially, three frontline ambulances were placed in service and there was one reserve unit. July 4th of that year was the official date this service began with registered EMT’s staffing the ambulances.
In 1977 Chief Williams resigned from the department and E.E. Spillman was hired as the new Chief. Spillman was a retired Dallas Assistant Fire Chief when he was hired by Irving on October 31, 1977. In his tenure in Irving, Chief Spillman brought many changes. The year following his hiring, the EMTs on the ambulances were upgraded to Paramedics. In the following years, an Assistant Chief position was created, a Communications Captain position was created, a Fire Department property manager was hired, the radio system was upgraded and moved to a new Communications Center, fire codes were updated, and in 1982 Fire Station 7 was opened.
The department continued to grow, and Fire Station 8, which is now home to IFD’s HazMat team, opened in the Las Colinas area in May of 1984. In 1987, Station 9 opened in the northwest corner of the city to protect the rapidly growing hotel, office and warehouse district around DFW Airport.
In response to the increase in population density in the Valley Ranch area, Station 10 opened in 1989. This station would later become the first station in the history of the IFD to house a paramedic engine company.
Chief Spillman retired in 1990, and Chief Richard Knopf was hired to the position in July of 1990 and he served the department until December of 1994.
Chief Jack Hickey was hired as the new Fire Chief in March of 1995. He had served with the Dallas Fire Department for almost 30 years and retired as Assistant Chief of Emergency Operations after rising through the ranks of the department.
On December 6, 1997, Station 11 opened as a multi-use facility with a police substation on one end and a fire station on the other. Just ten days later on December 16, Engine 11 was first-in on a three-alarm structure fire in an apartment complex on Parkridge Blvd. This station is now used in its entirety by IFD with the North Fire Prevention office on one end, the Battalion Two Chiefs’ quarters and office on the other end, and a five bay fire station between.
In the spring of 2002, the IFD began its first Citizens Fire Academy (CFA) under the guidance of Fire Prevention Specialist Mike Harris. The CFA soon formed an alumni association that remains active today and is instrumental in supporting firefighter rehabilitation on major incidents. The organization also support a host of IFD activities and events too numerous to list.
Chief Hickey retired in October of 2002 and Paul White was named to fill the Chief’s position in January 2003. He had previously served in the Tyler and the Houston Fire Departments. In October of the same year, the City of Irving’s first Fire Safety House was placed in service. That year also saw the opening of the new Fire Station 5 at 2925 W. Shady Grove, located just down the street from the previous station. In 2004, the previous station 5 was re-opened as the Public Education Station and home of the IFD’s Citizens Fire Academy.
In August of 2004, a landmark fire occurred in Irving on Lake Carolyn. An apartment complex known as The Lofts caught fire while under construction. This fire was a tactical challenge for firefighters due to its location, and it was brought under control only after going to a four alarm response involving firefighters from multiple jurisdictions.
A new Fire Station 6 opened in September 2005, which became the first station with individual bedrooms. This station now houses the Technical Rescue Team with a fully equipped Urban Search and Rescue truck. Another historical event for IFD happened in December of the same year when Captain “Shakey” Holder marked his 50th anniversary with the Irving Fire Department.
Chief White retired in July of 2006, and it wasn’t until January, 2007 that the city named a new Chief. Mario Molina was appointed to the position and began on January 8. He was from the Carrollton Fire Department and came with 17 years of experience in the fire service. Under Molina, the IFD began the Vial of Life program in June of 2007. In August of that year, new thermal imaging cameras were placed in service on all front line equipment. In November of 2007, the IFD placed its first 100-foot platform ladder truck in service as Truck 9.
The following year an IFD Tactical Paramedic program began to operate in conjunction with the Irving Police Tactical Team, and in June of 2008, the IFD introduced its Bike Paramedic Team. The next month, the first three Lieutenants to work in the Fire Prevention Division began their assignment. By October of 2008, a third Assistant Chief was approved for IFD, and Victor Conley was appointed to fill the position.
On August 1, 2012, Molina left the IFD and Chief Conley was named interim Fire Chief. Under Chief Conley, the IFD began the process of applying for Best Practices recognition. After a long process, the IFD received recognition from the Texas Fire Chiefs Association as having Best Practices on January 6, 2014. The following month, in a ceremony in San Marcos, TX, Chief Victor Conley was named Fire Chief of the Year for 2013 by the same organization; he was still an interim Chief. On March 20, 2014, the City of Irving broke a long-standing tradition and named Chief Conley, and internal candidate, to the position of Fire Chief.
After serving as interim Fire Chief for almost 18 months, Victor Conley was appointed to the position of Fire Chief by interim City Manager, Steve McCullough. His appointment was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the City Council on March 20, 2014, and continues to lead the department today.
Chief Conley joined the IFD January 26, 1986. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Science from Columbia Southern University October of 2012, and is currently enrolled in the Masters of Public Administration Program at the same institution. He also holds certifications through the Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) as Firefighter-Master, Fire Service Instructor-Master, Fire Officer IV, Head of Department-Suppression and Prevention, and Training Officer for the department. Chief Conley completed the Fire Service Chief Executive Officer program through the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). Additionally, Chief Conley has been designated a Chief Fire Officer in February of 2013 by The Commission on Professional Credentialing. He was designated a Certified Fire Executive through the Texas Fire Chiefs Association (TFCA) in October of 2013. Chief Conley has also comleted the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program. Additionaly, he is also a licensed Paramedic.
In addition to his local duties, Chief Conley serves on the Texas Fire Chiefs Executive Board and is a member of the Dallas County Mutual Aid Committee.