The Chino Valley Fire District has humble beginnings. For several years, there was no fire department in Chino at all and no ability to stop fires other than by the volunteer efforts of neighbors and luck-although community founder, Richard Gird, had a few fire hydrants located in town along with some lengths of hose.
House fires were always a serious threat because there was no electricity, as people used lanterns, candles and gas stoves. On May 25, 1895, while meeting to plan a large 4th of July celebration, a group of businessmen began talking about organizing a fire company and purchasing a hose, hand pumps and a hook-and-ladder cart.
The meeting resulted in the formation of Chino Fire Company No. 1. B. K. Galbreath, a prominent merchant, was President, Joe Sailer was Vice President, Emil Clause was Secretary, and W. J. Tebo was Treasurer. L. F. Deyo, restaurateur, was Foreman, making him the first "Fire Chief." John W. Turner, another member of the group, would become Chief in 1906.
Soon after the Fire Company formed in August, 1895, it saved O. F. Seeley's Sixth Street house from an early morning blaze that burned King's Chop House. The event was apparently the first major response by the Fire Company.
In March, 1896, the Fire Company ordered its first hose cart and 300 more feet of two-inch hose. Two months later, the equipment was used to save Jules Moyse's store in a late-night fire.
A cart house was erected by volunteers in June, 1896, on the southeast corner of Seventh and D Streets. In January, 1897, a bell was ordered for the fire tower on the hose house. The bell cracked on August 6, 1915, when it was rung hard and long by Sidney Moyse after two pyromaniacs set seven fires that evening. Five of the fires were of major proportion and resulted in the loss of many thousands of dollars' worth of property. The old bell was replaced with a siren in 1925, which can now be seen near Chino Valley Fire District Station 61 in Central Park, across from Chino City Hall.
In March, 1899, the Fire Company received $24.76 from the County Board of Supervisors-Chino's share of a tax on out-of-state insurance companies doing business in the State. The next month, it was announced the Fire Company would purchase a 35-foot ladder, 4 hooks, 12 rubber hats and red shirts. Each volunteer in the early Fire Company paid $1 to join and 10 cents per month in dues, and were voted into the department.
When the bell went off, the firefighters responded by pulling the hose cart to the fire. They would hook it to one of ten hydrant plugs in town. Drills were held twice a month.