Early History of the Orange Fire Department

  • In 1870, Captain W. R. Bolin sailed a two-masted schooner up the Sabine River to Orange and unloaded the first piece of fire apparatus to the area. It was a man-pulled, man-powered pump and was the nucleus for the formation of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department. In, 1878, the City of Orange was incorporated by the State of Texas and in 1880 the State issued a Charter to the Orange Volunteer Fire Department. By this time the OVFD had become a division of the City of Orange
  • In 1881, a horse drawn steam pumper was acquired by the Department and by 1890 a Central Fire Station had been erected on the southeast corner of Market and Division adjacent to the County Courthouse.. By 1900 the Orange Volunteer Fire Department employed a full time driver’s position. His salary was $80 per month, from which he had to pay for the horses feed and shoes, so he actually netted about $64 per month.
  • In 1904, the City of Orange acquired bonds to construct a new Central Fire Station on the south side Main Street between 4th Street and 5th Street. In 1912, the City of Orange purchased the first piece of motorized apparatus for the OVFD. It was numbered Engine 1 and was an American LaFrance Chemical Engine. In 1917 an American LaFrance 800 gpm Piston Pumper, Engine 2, was purchased to add to the fleet and the horses and steam pumper were retired. Engine 3 was purchased by the City in 1920 and it was an American LaFrance 800 gpm Rotary Gear Pumper. During the early part of the 20th century, the Orange Volunteer Fire Department was one of the best equipped fire departments in the area, primarily due to the timber and lumber industry within the city.
  • With the onset of World War II in 1941, the City of Orange became a hub of shipbuilding to support the war effort and the federal government supplied the City and the Department with much needed newer and more powerful equipment. Three pumpers, a 75 foot aerial truck and a high pressure truck were furnished by the government to protect the shipyards and the population that had boomed to 70,000 people during that time. During the war years, the OVFD operated five fire station. Central Station, Station 2 at 10th & Burton, Station 3 on Park Avenue in Riverside Addition, Station 4 on Border Street by the Lutcher Moore Lumber Company and Station 5 in the 2500 block of West Park Avenue. During this wartime period, while the volunteer department was still in active, most of the department became career personnel. At the end of the war, the petrochemical industries began to located in the Orange area and with the need of fire protection, these paid position were kept to provide 24 hour professional service with augmentation by the volunteers.
  • In 1949, due to the lack of fire service throughout the unincorporated portions of Orange County, the City purchased a John Bean High Pressure truck and signed a contract with Orange County for $8500 per year to provide fire service to the unincorporated areas of the county. Throughout the 1950's the interest in the volunteer department began to wane as more career firefighters were hired by the Department. The Orange Volunteer Fire Department was officially disbanded in December of 1960 and the department has been 100% career professionals since that date.