I had planned a different post for today, but in light of the recent fires in and around town, I decided I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t dedicate the letter F to our amazing firefighters.
In the early days, fires in Fort Collins were fought by bucket brigades. (Remember the house fire scene from the movie Silverado?) “At best, this was an inefficient way to fight fires, which on several occasions threatened to wipe out the entire town.” (From Barbara Fleming’s Fort Collins - A Pictorial History) Inefficient…I would imagine. And apparently that wasn’t the only problem. “After every blaze, firefighters were offered free drinks at the local taverns. It is said that unscrupulous souls sometimes set fires to get the drinks.” (I'm sure E.E. McGinnis, shown below, was too honest for that.)
The Fort Collins Fire Department was organized in 1880, and in 1881, the city hall/fire station was built on Walnut Street. It’s still standing and houses Old Firehouse Books and Happy Lucky's Teahouse. A year later, the new waterworks on Overland Trail provided a pressurized system which brought water from the Poudre River into town.
In 1981, The City of Fort Collins and the Poudre Valley Fire Departments were consolidated to form the Poudre Fire Authority (PFA). The total service area of the PFA is 235 square miles, including LaPorte, Timnath and Bellvue. In addition, The Larimer County Emergency Services Unit of the Sheriff’s Department “manages the suppression of forest, brush and grass fires that occur in Larimer County.”
The best way to show appreciation for our firefighters is to be smart about fire. Please refrain from shooting off fireworks to celebrate your tax refund, juggling flaming clubs in your neighbor’s haystack, or burning up that Christmas tree you’ve been meaning to recycle for the last three years. If you smoke in your car, use your ashtray.
Smokey Bear thanks you for your diligence, too. (For a bear, he has a pretty cool website, complete with a national Real Time Wildfire Map. And you can even follow Smokey on twitter.)
Thanks again to the Fort Collins History Connection for the old photos.