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Dallas Historian

Fire, Police and Emergency Services


Dallas has had one of the best, if not the best, volunteer fire department since its formation in 1878, with 30 members.  The followings are some major events in the history of the Dallas fire department.

1883: Fire department formed as Terror Fire Company No. 1

1889: Fire Department purchased a wooden ladder wagon. Big fire breaks out in downtown Dallas, The Oregon Statesman, August 2, 1889, Headlines " DOWN IN ASHES A Disastrous Conflagration Visits Dallas A Quarter Block Burned Firemen and Citizens Work Heroically...Ladies Lend Able Assistance...Shortage of Water" (more Later)

1898: Polk County Courthouse fire

1903: Muir and McDonald Tannery fire

1911: Dallas College gymnasium fire

1912: Dallas Fire Department established under city charter

1913: Sunrise Restaurant  and one other building burned on the corner of Main and Mill (old Adolf Electric Building)

1919: Willamette Valley Lumber Company Mill was destroyed in the first of several fires to hit the company

1924: W. V. L. Co. Planer, Sheds, Kilns fire that covered two blocks ($200,000)

1926: W. V. L. Co. yard fire ($40,000) Hog fuel bin and carrier shops burned in two separate fires in later years

1929: Odd Fellows Hall on Main, Ritzer's Jewelry and Bee Hive store ($50,000)

1932: Christian Church was a total loss from fire that broke out in the attic ($11,000 insurance)

1933: Dallas Steam Laundry fire

1935: Dallas purchased its first ambulance

1937: Dallas Alliance Church fire

1940: Willamette Valley Lumber Company fire ($1 million loss)

1945: Dallas Lumber and Supply fire ($85,000 loss)

1948: Dallas Lumber and Supply Company fire was one of the most destructive downtown fires in the history of Dallas (Oregon Statesman) This relatively new structure was destroyed by an explosion which sent flames and building supplies skyward ($85,000)

1951: Rio Theater fire ($30,00 loss)

1970: Gas explosion and fire destroyed the Polk County Itemizer Observer, Woods Insurance Agency and Polk County Association for Retarded Thrift Shop ($500,000)

1973: Ediger's Church Furniture fire ($200,00)

1979: The first women to join the Dallas Fire Department was Fern Shen

1987: Shady Lane and Rock Creek fire ( 6,000 acres, $3 million)

1987: Praegitzer industries fire ( $11 million loss)

2001: Meduri Farms fire ( $2 million loss)

2003: 125th anniversary fire department celebration took place with Summerfest activities. The fire department currently has 75 volunteers, 12 of these are women. Below are some little known facts about this proud tradition of the Dallas Fire Department.

In 1933, Dallas becomes the first fire department with all white trucks. This change was made to increase the visibility of the trucks on the way to emergencies.

In 1989, when the Dallas Fire Department became "film stars", they were featured in a National Geographic educational film called "Our Town". The series was developed for grades K though 3rd and focused on various community services, police, fire, city hall, postal.

On of the most unusual and memorable fire was when a house on fire contained a number of unexpected residents. Once the smoke cleared, they found live reptiles throughout the house, including a 9 foot and a 14 foot python, a 5 foot alligator and dozens of lizards in various sizes.

The annual budget has been approximately $500,000. A report submitted in 1995, reported it would cost $1.6 million a year if the volunteer fire department was replaced with full-time paid firefighters.

The Dallas Fire Department was recognized in1998 for its creative volunteer recruitment and retention efforts in Fire-Rescue Magazine, a national publication of the fire service.

Dallas Fire Department first began using motorized equipment in 1925 and it has had a perfect driving record, no vehicle accidents in route to an emergency and they are proud to have the only all volunteer fire department in Oregon with a Class 2 insurance rating.

In 2001, the Dallas Fire Department traveled to Seattle WA to compete in their first Northwest Region Vehicle Extrication Competition, hosted by the International Association of Fire Chiefs. They brought home the 3rd place trophy. In 2002, they brought home the 2nd place trophy.