The Shawnee Fire Department was organized in early 1924 when a group of citizens collected enough money to purchase a fire truck. The truck was a 1924 Ford Model T that was delivered to Mayor Van Winkle and Chief Provost. A few months later on April 8, 1924 the city council passed the first ordinance pertaining to fire regulations.
The first official fire call was to Jasper Demario’s greenhouse at 12:30 PM ON April 21, 1924. For the first 20 years of the department, the only sources of water for firefighting were wells, cisterns, and ponds. It wasn’t until the 1940’s that fire hydrants started to become available. In 1947, the City of Shawnee covered approximately ½ square mile and the City of Shawnee Fire Department handled all the calls within city limits. Shawnee Township was organized to provide fire protection for the surrounding area. The Township included areas now incorporated by Merriam, Overland Park, and Lenexa.
The department went through many stages the first 54 years of its existence. As the city grew and annexed surrounding areas, many of the small township fire departments consolidated into what is now the Shawnee Fire Department. The department remained a completely volunteer organization until 1969. At that time a full time paid Chief, Charles Miner, was recruited from the Emporia Fire Department. The next ten years proved to be a volatile period with a high turn-over rate at the fire chief’s position. On January 1, 1977 the first paid firefighter was hired by the department. A year later two additional paid firefighters were hired. The City of Shawnee and the fire department were experiencing a time of rapid growth. The city had grown to 26 square miles with a population of 27,400 residents, a new station was being built, and there were 91 volunteers to man the fire and rescue apparatus.
Station #1 and #2 were housed in the same building (the current HQ) although each station covered different areas of the city. Station #3, at Midland and Barker was a volunteer only station until the late ‘80’s when citizens demanded faster response time. Paid crews were added to supply 24 hour service. At this time Station #1 and #2 merged into what is our current Station #1, Station #3 was renamed #2, and a third station was built at 68th and Hedge Lane Terrace to cover the expanding western region of Shawnee. On January 9th, 1989 all fire stations in the city were staffed with paid personnel on a 24 hour basis. Shawnee had grown to 45 square miles and a population of 38,000 people.
Since the ‘80’s, Shawnee has continued its steady growth to reach the current population of approximately 65,000 residents. Station #2 was relocated to 58th and Renner in conjunction with the police department to better serve the citizens of Shawnee. The fire department currently operates four companies out of three stations with a total of 58 paid personnel.
1930 REO Speedwagon
54 Howe Defender