Ninety-nine years ago, on April 28, 1907, a small fire smoldered undetected inside the Umphred Furniture Warehouse at the foot of Park Avenue in Emeryville. With plenty of fuel from the building's contents, the flames spread quickly, steadily driving the interior temperature higher and higher. Suddenly, in the awesomely destructive instant known as flashpoint, all of the interior surfaces ignited and the windows exploded outward. Before the inferno was quenched, the Emery Railway Station and nearby oil tanks had also burned. There was no fire department in the Town of Emeryville.
This catastrophic fire convinced the Board of Trustees of the Town of Emeryville that they needed a fire fighting force, and in 1908 they undertook the creation of the Emeryville Fire Department. They purchased a lot on San Pablo Avenue between Park Avenue and 45th Street for $4,500 and within 180 days had completed the firehouse for the price of about $10,000.
More than just a building and equipment was born at that time. An organization was born, and an organization consists of people. The most important tools for mitigating emergencies are the people who think and act at those emergency scenes.
I am honored to be one of those people. I was hired as a firefighter for the City of Emeryville in 1986, and am currently the rank of Captain. I also am the communications officer and am active on the apparatus commitee as well as serving other functions within the department.
The department today has 31 members and professionally staffs two engines and a truck. We respond to fires, medical emergencies, hazardous materials incidents and many other hazard calls. It is a progressive department, embracing technologies such as all paramedic engine companies and the county's pilot 12 lead EKG program.
The city encompasses 1.2 square miles and has a call volume of about 1700 runs a year. It is known for being a small town that is really a big city, with multiple high rise offices and hotels, retail, office, and high tech businesses as well as residential high rises and a residential area of town. Recently a multitude of loft style residences have been constructed in Emeryville and it has become a destination residential area for the bay area "high tech" crowd.
One of our 1999 Smeal quads...we have two, our front line engines.
Where I work...the Emeryville Fire Department
And this is me! (not the big red thing...the blue one!)