Fire District 1 today is a far cry from the grassroots band of bucket-toting citizens credited with bringing fire service to the residents of unincorporated areas of south Snohomish County more than 80 years ago. As the area grew, so did Fire District 1. Advances in equipment and technology and the addition of emergency medical services have reshaped our response, but the legacy and commitment to public service remains unchanged.
1929: First Volunteer Department Established
In 1929, longtime-residents Carl Eisen and Clarence Crary started up the area’s first volunteer fire department. They had nothing more than 25 willing volunteers and several personally owned pickup trucks that carried water barrels and buckets. Eisen’s repair garage and service station at 212th Street Southwest and Highway 99 served as the department headquarters for the Community Fire Department as it was first known.
It wasn’t until 1932 that the fledgling department, along with the Seattle Heights Civic Club, raised $300 and purchased a 1925 REO Speedwagon fire truck from the Edmonds Fire Department. When there was a fire, someone would call Eisen’s service station, and Eisen would roar off in the REO, while his wife stayed behind to staff the gas pumps.
Mrs. Eisen would also turn on a siren by the back porch and manually swing the speaker around for maximum coverage. Other volunteers would respond to the fire, bringing water buckets with them to refill the REO since there was no water system in the area.
1945: Fire District 1 Incorporates
Fire District 1 came into existence in 1945 following a two-year organizational effort. Crary served as the first fire chief. The district continued to operate out of Eisen’s garage until 1954 when the Seattle Heights Civic Club built the district’s first formal fire station at the same location.
The early 1950s were a formative time for the young district. The volunteers elected the chief, there were no fire codes, very few hydrants and the Firemen’s Ball was the social event of the season.
Fire District 1 at this time covered what is now Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, part of Mukilteo and a good share of the present-day district. Growth would be the key word in the 1950s, but it would not come without its costs. In 1953, Fire District 1 would record its first line-of-duty deaths when two firefighters were killed and another permanently disabled in an automobile accident at 196th Street SW and 76th Avenue W.
1953: Fire District 11 Established
To the north of Fire District 1, residents were also becoming concerned about the need for fire protection. In 1953, Fire District 11 was organized to serve residents in the unincorporated area north of Fire District 1 and south of Everett. Looking for a local identity to help with volunteer recruitment, District 11 commissioners decided to call their new organization the Silver Lake Fire Department. The district leased its first fire station in the Fairmount neighborhood near Paine Field.
2000: Fire Districts 1 and 11 Merge
Both Fire District 1 and Fire District 11 continued to grow along with south Snohomish County and implemented innovative programs in emergency medical services, public education, fire prevention, hazardous materials response and rescue. In 1996, the boards from both districts saw the citizens of Fire District 1 and Fire District 11 would benefit from improved service and efficiency if the two organizations worked cooperatively. A 1997 administrative consolidation led to a formal merger overwhelmingly approved by voters to take effect January 1, 2000.
Regionalization Continues as Cities Contract with Fire District 1
The move toward a regional fire service continued as Fire District 1 and the Mountlake Terrace Fire Department consolidated in 2005 with the approval of long-term contracts for Fire District 1 to provide fire and emergency medical services to both Mountlake Terrace and Brier. In 2010, Fire District 1 and the City of Edmonds entered into a similar long-term contract for service. Under the agreement, the Edmonds Fire Department, an agency with a rich history of community service dating back more than 100 years, consolidated with Fire District 1 to provide better opportunities for sharing resources and enhancing service delivery. Fire District 1 Commissioners continue to explore new opportunities for regionalized service and build on the legacy and commitment to public service established by the firefighters and fire departments that have served south Snohomish County over the years.