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Knowing Nevada: Nevada's Oldest Fire Department

Two fire-trucks sit outside the Warren Engine Company's firehouse in the early 1900's. Courtesy: CCFD
Two fire-trucks sit outside the Warren Engine Company's firehouse in the early 1900's. Courtesy: CCFD
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First responders are just that; they're the first to respond. They've been doing so all over the world since health and safety became a priority to modern civilization.

As the United States started to build their own infrastructure and towns, these places needed first responders to help whenever help was needed.

A certain group of people, willing to risk their lives for others and/or who have been willing to jump in the fire, took on the challenge. We know them as firefighters.

In Nevada, one of the longest running fire departments is still in operation. It was here before the state, survived years of growth and change, and eventually became an government agency almost sixty years ago.

Warren Engine Co. No. 1

In 1863, the community of Carson City was just five years-old. This after the city was founded and named after 'Kit' Carson. In fact, Nevada was not 'Nevada' yet either.

With people moving to the state in droves, fires began to happen. In the mines, in people's homes, and at anywhere the was lit up improperly by candlelight, people were learning to quickly live with fire.

Soon - a tough group of volunteers decided to do something about it.

The Warren Engine Company No.1 was formed as a group of less than two dozen volunteers. Most were men who worked in the mines and other trades around town. A year later, The Curry Engine Co. No. 2 was also formed. That group built the first fire house. Then, a third volunteer fire crew popped up ten years later, the S.T. Swift Company No. 3 in 1873.

Those three fire crews all operated in different parts of the city - but still responded to the same call to action for saving lives and knocking down flames.

Warren Engine Co. No. 1 was the group that wanted to become an official agency but needed the funding, new equipment, and crew-members working around the clock to help out the city.

They raised money through different fundraisers like their annual ball. They used funds to buy their first fire apparatus from the Warren Engine Company No. 4 in Marysville, CA. The cost? More than 1,000 dollars. (A lot of money back then)

Heading into the 20th century, the volunteer-ship and the population grew. More buildings were built and more fires were happening.

The company saw more than 100 volunteers joining the force throughout different decades.

Eventually in 1964, after 101 years, the company became a recognized government agency and began operating as the Carson City Fire Department we know today.

The 'Yellow' Badge of Honor

If you've seen the CCFD firetrucks, emergency vehicles, and battalion chief cars roll up to a structure or wildland fire, you can't miss them. They're yellow as a raincoat in a rainstorm.

Captain Bryon Hunt with the department believes it was cheaper to color trucks yellow back in the 1960's. He says the color is similar to school buses and the trucks were likely made by school bus manfucatuers. To this day, he says he's heard twenty-five different stories on why they dawn the yellow on their vehicles.

It's something the members of the department take pride in, along with their long and illustrious history.

Many years of service and growth have kept this fire agency open and the battle with man against fire still rages on. It's one of the many historical groups that still do what they've always been doing before Nevada became Nevada.

Knowing Nevada is a historical heritage series that highlights some of the interesting, unknown, and known, tales about the state of Nevada. This series is researched and put together by our own native Nevadan, Miles Buergin. If you have any suggestions for our next Knowing Nevada, please e-mail him at:

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