‘Twas the day before Christmas 1902 when a group of Pierce men met and formed the Pierce Fire Company. A report in the December 26 issue of the Pierce County Leader indicated that a temporary organization was affected and 3 men were appointed to draft a constitution and by-laws.
Equipment at the time was a single hose cart, but the report indicated another would be ordered along with a hook & ladder truck and 500 feet more hose to supplement the 400 feet on hand. (One of the hose carts and the hook and ladder rig are on display at the Pierce Museum.
In 1903 the city erected a 55,000 gallon standpipe which made firefighting a much easier matter but by 1906 there were still only 11 hydrants. By then the fire department had 1000 feet of hose to help them along. The ladders and hose still had to be taken to the scene of the fire by hand however. It was not until April, 1925 that the first piece of motorized equipment was put into service, the trustworthy “Dodge” that remained in service for a quarter of a century before it was finally replaced.
If you lived in the rural area near Pierce and had a fire, it was pretty much “tough luck” to you as the old pumper could not be taken from the city and would not have been much good if it had.
In 1946 the Pierce Fire Department, aided by concerned farmers, purchased a rural pumper for use in rural areas. This truck was bought by selling shares to farm people. This also permitted the department to raise their manpower from 25 to 35. In July 1951 a large home burned to the ground 11 1/2 miles southwest of Pierce, mainly because the new rural truck did not carry enough water to put out any fire of major proportions. Firemen nearly had this fire stopped when the tank ran dry and then it was a heartbreaking watch as the home burned.
Spurred on by this fire, Pierce firemen went back to the people and soon had enough for the first of their 1000 gallon tankers, a truck which soon became a self sustaining firefighting machine.
In early 1958 the department began seeking an improved method of supporting a rural fire department, and they circulated petitions asking for the creation of a rural fire district. This district became a reality in May of 1958 and encompassed 170 sections of land.
This brought about an improvement in financing and by 1963 the department had added another 1000 gallon tanker and in March 1970 they purchased a new rural pumper that at $19,392 coat more than the large building in which it was housed. In 1953, after defeating the issue once, the city voters approved the purchase of a new city truck to replace the old Dodge.
It has been a long way from Christmas, 1902 and the very modest beginning to the present fire department which protects the city and a large area of rural Pierce county. Under an agreement reached a few years ago, the rural fire district and the city now share alike in the departments equipment purchases.
For many years fire equipment was housed in a single stall building that also housed the city water pump and was located on the site of the present fire hall. In 1953 a new modern fire hall was built on the site and in 1984 the present modern building was erected. The city has also replaced the old water tower with a new 350,000 gallon tank in west Pierce. This move greatly improved the water pressure available in case of fires.
The present fire-rescue unit is authorized at a strength of 40 firefighters and 25 rescue members, however, some of the rescue personnel are also firemen. The department is completely equipped with personal firefighting gear.