The Kaufman Volunteer Fire Department was formed over 103 years ago. When, in 1886, a disastrous fire started on the square in the grocery store of H.D. Lindsey, located on the southwest corner of the square. The fire involved four other buildings before a group of citizens banded together with buckets to extinguish the fire. A fire company was organized that next Monday and a corps of officers was elected and twenty-four firemen enrolled. A full set of buckets, hooks, and ladders were soon ordered.
Years later two hose carts were obtained and pulled to fires, hoses hooked to hydrants and laid out by hand. During this time period, several fires occurred, several of which were very destructive. In 1916, a key rate report on the City listed the fire key rate at .46, the department received a penalty because not all of the equipment was horse-drawn, and they also received a penalty because the department was completely volunteer. In 1924, a new American La France fire engine was delivered with solid rubber tires. They also had on hand a Brockway Engine with no water carried on either engine. The department also voted to put $100.00 down on a new siren alarm. Looking through the records, the call volume looked like this in 1923: 12 Fire calls; 1924: 19 Fire Calls; 1925: 16 Fire Calls; and in 1926: 14 Fires reported.
Also, in 1926, Smith Motor burned. It was a two-story brick building with wooden floors. The loss was reported at $18,000 for the building and $17,000 for the contents. In this same year, two fire-police were appointed from the membership with the authority to enforce the fire ordinances during times of fires. The department voted in July of 1926 to fix the fire bell in case the electricity was off again. The department used the two 1924 model engines up until sometime in the 1940s. In 1948 a Military surplus duplex engine was obtained from a military base. In September of 1948, the cotton compress burned, and it was fought for several days. The department voted in 1949 to purchase an artificial resuscitator for the department, it is still on hand today.
In the early 1950s, a Ford American La France Engine was purchased. The engine had a flat V-8 head. In 1950 the three-store high school burnt after possibly being struck by lightning. In 1956 a new truck was purchased and a fire engine was built by the volunteers. This unit was used up until the 1980’s when it was sold.
Some of the large fires that occurred during this time were the First Christian Church, in 1969 Cooley’s Supermarket burned. The AT&T building on 243 burned. In 1964 the department voted to dispose of the American La France and the Civil Defense Car.
The City purchased a 1972 Ford Boardman Fire Engine. This was a demo model when purchased. This unit was in service until 1999 when a new engine was purchased. During this time, the 70’s, the high school burnt. The department talked to the county commissioners in August of 1972 about starting a Fire District. The County advised they could only give a .3 cents on a $100.00 evaluation, which would have amounted to about $4800 a year. The Volunteer Fire Department purchased a 1979 For Neal Booster Engine. This unit phased out the 1950 Model La France and the old duplex engines.
The department around early 1980 purchased radio pagers to alert the volunteers of Fire calls and the old siren system was discontinued. The department also saw an increased need for some type of rescue unit in the early 1980’s. The department purchased an old ambulance and outfitted it as a rescue unit. A set of hydraulic rescue tools were purchased and added to the rescue unit. The department responded to numerous accidents throughout the county due to the fact that this was the only rescue unit in the County with this type of equipment. The department next built a booster rescue unit to respond to County fires and run rescue calls. This unit was later sold to the Crandall Volunteer Fire Department. The department then purchased a 1972 American La France Engine from Glenn Brooks Illinois. This engine replaced the home built booster unit which was then sold. This unit saw service on structure fires as well as being the department’s rescue unit.
The next unit that was built was a 1 ton booster rescue unit. This unit was built for economy due to the increasing responses made. This unit was used to fight house fires, grass fires and also respond to rescue calls. This unit was later sold during the early 1990’s.
In 1992 the City purchased a brand new Ford Quality 1250 G.P.M. Engine. This unit is still in service today and serves as second out engine. The Volunteer Fire Department purchased a 1992 Ford F-450 Mini Attack Unit. This functions as first out unit on County structure fires, along with serving as the rural rescue unit. The department purchased a second set of rescue tools during this time and the new tools were placed on this unit. The rural fire district was voted in by the voters in 1992 and this gave the department the ability to purchase vehicles and much needed equipment. The department purchased a new 1993 Ford F-700 Chassis and replaced the 1979 model chassis. This unit is still in service today and responds to rural and City calls.
Due to increasing calls within rural areas and lack of fire hydrants, the Department purchased a 1993 Demo 1600 Gallon KME Tanker. In 1995 the department purchased its first set of department wide bunker gear, when the new gear was ordered for all members. This included coats, pants, gloves, gear bags, and suspenders.
The City added its first paid fire department employee in 1997. Eddie Brown was hired to serve as Fire Chief and Inspector. The fire department moved into its current headquarters in 1998. The City dedicated Central Fire Station in April 1998. The City added its second paid fire employee in January 1999. Ronnie Davis was hired to serve as Assistant Chief and Inspector. The department also purchased a new 1999 F-550 Chassis to replace the 1992 Ford F-450 chassis on the rescue unit. The 1992 chassis then had a flatbed, a tank, and a pumping unit installed on it and it became a booster unit for the department. With the addition of this apparatus, the department now runs six motorized pieces of equipment. This equipment consists of 2 engines, 1 pumping 1250 G.P.M. and the other pumping 1500 G.P.M., 3 booster units with a pumping capacity from 300 to 500 G.P.M., and 1 tanker with a 1600-gallon tank and a 500 G.P.M. pump. In August of 1999, new pagers were ordered for department members to replace the old units in operation.
For the year 1998, the department ran a total of 515 calls. As of December 1, 1999, the department ran 522 calls. The call load is steadily increasing each year. The department now has 8 paid personnel and 20 Volunteers to serve the Citizens of the City of Kaufman and Kaufman County. The department trains regularly each month in various Fire subjects. They also maintain the old water plant building as a fire training facility for live fire training. As you can see the department has greatly changed in its 103 years of existence. The Kaufman Fire Department will continue the traditions that have been passed on to it along with starting new ones.