Fire Department History
The Pontiac Fire Department (PFD) is an organizational and operational public safety service of the City of Pontiac. Established in 1865, the Pontiac Fire Department, as we know it today, was established utilizing the veterans of the Civil War as volunteers for an Engine Company and a Hose Company. At the beginning, these companies were separate entities. A new fire engine was put into service, Rules and Regulations were written and fire protection was established. In late 1865 early 1866, the first Fire Codes were written and put into effect to help prevent the current fire hazards that were present. The first Fire Code was the Cleaning and Inspecting of Flue's and Chimney's. This was the beginning of Fire Safety Codes for the City of Pontiac.
In 1867, J.W. Strevell, an Attorney in Pontiac, wrote a letter recommending that Pontiac is in need of a Hook and Ladder Company along with the two current fire companies already established. In 1868, a wagon, hooks and ladders were purchased and a lot on the east side of the square was leased for a building to be built to house the newly formed Hook and Ladder company. After the completion of the new building for the Hook and Ladder company, the Engine company was also moved into this building. 1873, a new engine was purchased and the announcement of a restructuring of the Fire Department was coming in the near future. 1874, as part of the restructure, moved all 3 companies under one roof and will function as one unit. The name chosen for the new unit, Clark Hose Company. Clark Hose Company is still used today as the name of the Fire Department members fraternal organization.
July 1, 1894, after many changes, the existing Fire Department was dissolved, a new Fire Chief was appointed and the Fire Department was brought under the control of the City of Pontiac as a recognized municipal Fire Department.
Pontiac’s first “fire engines” were pulled to the scene of the fire by hand! After many years, a steam driven pumper was purchased, which was pulled by horses. When the new station was built in 1900, provisions were constructed for the housing of horses at the station. The city's first motorized fire truck was a 1916 Seagrave pumper.
At the time the PFD was organized, (1877), annual fire alarms averaged about 10 per year. The city’s first full time personnel was the fire chief in the 1950s. Full time firemen were not hired until much later. For many years there was one full time fireman on-duty around the clock. In 1977, three additional firemen were added to provide a second man on each of the three shifts.
Pontiac Rural Fire Protection District (PRFPD)
Fire alarms were only answered inside the city limits for many decades. As the fire protection needs of the surrounding rural area increased, in 1959 the Pontiac Rural Fire Protection District was established. The newly formed PRFPD signed an agreement with the city to provide fire protection outside the city and in the PRFPD. This agreement still is in effect. Therefore, in addition to fire protection inside the city itself, the PFD provides fire protection to a large area outside the city known as the PRFPD.
In 1968, the PFD organized the “rescue squad.” The Rescue Squad was the first rescue company in the area and did respond as far away as 50 miles. Primarily organized to respond to automobile accidents and assist trapped victims, the role of the rescue squad has changed since its beginning. Although called the Pontiac Rescue Squad, it is in fact the PFD. All rescue squad personnel are PFD personnel. The rescue squad responses have steadily increased over the years. Most rescue squad responses are to emergency medical responses rather than auto accidents.
Currently, 2018, The Pontiac Fire Department has a Fire Chief, 3 Captains (Shift Commanders), 3 Lieutenants (Company Officers), 6 Engineer/Firefighters and 10 Paid-on-Call/Volunteer Firefighters. We have three shifts that work 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off duty and can be supplemented by the POC staff when available. We average around 1,450 calls a year.