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City of Lincoln
Fire & Rescue Department

History of the Lincoln Fire & Rescue


The first of Lincoln's Fire Companies originally banded together February 9th, 1872. They numbered between 40 to 50 men and boasted one "Steamer" (Chapin #1), two hose carts, and paraphernalia to outfit a bucket brigade.

On June 4, 1877, the membership rose to 69 men, continuing to increase until finally it became necessary to divide the force into two divisions, termed respectively, No. 1 and No. 2, with specially appointed Captains.

On August 28, 1875, the City purchases the first two horses to pull the steamer.

During 1879 the volunteer firefighters responded to 17 alarms, saving a total of $90,750 worth of property, suffering an incredibly small loss of only $2,250 on the whole.

A citizen's petition was finally presented to the City Council in December, 1885, calling for the stablishment of a full-time paid Fire Department. The Council quickly voted to establish one full-time, paid company to co-exist with the two volunteer companies.

The first paid Fire Company was located at Engine House #2, on the corner of 10th & 'Q' Streets.

The volunteer fire companies would last just one more year before fading forever from the scene.

The Lincoln Fire Department began its existence as one hose company with the equipment consisting of only one hose cart and two horses. The steamers, and other apparatus remaining with the volunteer companies.

Friday, January 22, 1886, marks the date of the very first paid Fire Departmet alarm.

In January, 1887, the size of the Lincoln Fire Department was increased to three companies, adding 35 men to the roster, many of whom, not too surprisingly, had been experienced members of the volunteer companies.

The Lincoln Fire Department of 1920, under the leadership of Chief Neil T. Sommer, consisted of 52 men assigned to the four different fire stations throughout the city: Station No. 1, Headquarters, at 10th and 'Q' Street; Station No. 2 at 2300 'O' Street; Station No. 3 at 1223 'F' Street; and Station No. 4 at 844 North 27th Street.

One of the most significant events that occurred was when the last horses were sold in 1919. The replacement of a company's horses by a gasoline engine was generally a sad occasion.

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