By Mark Vaerini
In the early 1930's, a dispatch phone rings at a small house in Chino on 12th Street at the home of Art and Ruth Wagner. Mrs. Wagner answers the phone; and while she takes note of the address of the emergency, her husband puts on his gear and dashes for the door. It was from this house that Ruth would sound the local alarm, alerting the volunteers that their services were needed because a neighbor was involved in an emergency. It might be said that Ruth was the first full-time dispatcher in the City of Chino. Her husband, Art, is considered the "Father of the Chino Fire Department" because of his 32 years of dedicated service during the District's infancy. Art Wagner is credited with the transition of the District from a rural volunteer force to a full-time professional fire department.
Many things have changed in the 100-year history of this District. A central dispatch center with a Statewide 911 program has replaced Art and Ruth's telephone. An annual budget of $22.2 million replaces the 1936 budget of $4,600. A single Board-governed Fire District has replaced the separate City and County rural departments. Powerful fire engines, capable of delivering 1,500 gallons of water per minute, additionally equipped with 100-foot aerial ladders and the latest heavy rescue and ventilation equipment, have replaced the hand-drawn horse carts carrying a few feet of hose. Today, seven fire stations house over 100 professional firefighters who spend each day training themselves and the public about fire.