Houston Fire Department
A brief look into the history of the Houston Fire Department
The Houston Fire Department began as a bucket brigade in 1838, one year after the city incorporated. There is limited history telling of the expansion over the ensuing years to the modern fire department today. What is left of the history, however, is quite colorful, heroic, sometimes humorous, and interspersed with tragedy. So much of the fire department’s history has been lost. A series of events took its toll on the records of the past:
- City records were destroyed by Union troops who occupied the city after the Civil War;
- Two devastating fires destroyed the city offices in Market Square; and
- A fire razed the central fire station in 1904. Part of the problem could have been a lack of appreciation for the past by many of the early fire chiefs.
We strive to make the history as accurate as possible. If any present or past firefighter finds something in the history that is not as they remember, or lacks some detail they feel needs to be added, please contact the author. (Please put HFMI Web in the subject line.) We also welcome comments from others.
This section is forever dedicated to the hard work and perseverance of Chief Max McRae.