|Engine 1 "Baby Henry" American La France The first pumper purchased from Elmira, New York for $3000.00. The vehicle arrived in Victoria on November 26, 1916. It was sold in 1946 to the City of Bloomington for $1.00.|
|Central Fire Station Victoria Fire Department 1930's|
The exact date of organization is not known, but it was around the year 1869. After several serious conflagrations a group of citizens banded together and formed a bucket brigade. 1871 saw the first hand operated fire pump placed in service. In 1885 the Victoria Fire Company No. 1 replaced the pioneer bucket-brigades. By 1910 the city began a slow evolution to a professional department. In that year the first five salaried fire fighters were hired at $50.00 per month to perform "fire department and street duty." From 1885 until the 1940's volunteers made up the remainder of the force. The success of the volunteer fire fighters was attributable largely to enthusiastic leadership. Louis A. Fritz, remembered on the old courthouse steps with the inscription to "Uncle Louie" was the father of the department. During the years from 1885 to 1911 city fathers gradually created the legal and physical machinery necessary for volunteer fireman to protect the city. In 1915 a bond issue of $30,000 was for the construction of a modern fire house. Less then a year later the Central Fire Station stood on the northwest corner of the courthouse square; its cost was $14,189.
Looking back the volunteers appear perhaps to have been badly equipped, but in the early years of this century Victoria's fire fighting apparatus ranked with the best. Matched teams of fine horses pulled the pumpers, and a bonus was offered to the first units to reach the scene. Mechanization was likely disappointing to the old timers, but in 1916 the city purchased its first motor truck an American La France pumper.
We are currently looking for any information concerning the history of the Victoria Fire Department. We have located former Victoria Fire Engine 909 at the Texas Fire Museum in Dallas, Texas. Engine 909 is a 1954 International/Howe Fire Apparatus Engine. The Victoria Fire Department still owns Engine 923, a 1923 Seagrave Fire Engine. If you have any questions or additional information about the History of Victoria Fire Department, please contact Fire Marshal Tom Legler at 361-485-3460.