The Growing Years
In March, 1954, the City and Rural Fire Departments moved into their new station at 13251 Central Avenue, then the new Civic Center. The Firemen built the bunk beds, office files and storage space for first aid equipment, hoses and fittings. Firemen take great pride in their equipment and living quarters, and strict emphasis is placed on the continual inspection of all emergency equipment. It is important for them to have ample room to move each piece of equipment for inspection and cleaning. A shift never assumes the equipment is ready for service; inspections are made daily to ensure its readiness.
The new fire station was dedicated to Fire Chief Art Wagner, and a dedication plaque was presented to him by the Firemen and the City Council.
In June, 1956, Art Wagner resigned as Fire Chief of the City and Rural Fire Departments. In his 32 years of service as a Volunteer Fireman and Chief, Wagner saw the Department grow from 1 small truck and 24 volunteers to 9 paid, full-time men and 6 units of fire equipment, augmented by 20 volunteers.
In July 1956, Howard Schroyer was appointed Fire Chief of the City and Rural Fire Departments. Schroyer was a progressive, fair and hard-working Chief. Under his guidance, the Department grew to fourteen paid, full-time personnel and seven units of fire equipment. Schroyer resigned from the position in October, 1959, and in November, Lester Hemstreet was appointed temporary Chief of the City and Rural Fire Departments. In July 1960, Hemstreet was officially appointed Chief of the two departments.
During the 1960's, Chino experienced a population growth that facilitated the need for another fire station, additional personnel and better firefighting equipment. Chino added twelve men to the Department during this period. This addition produced a total of nine men per shift. A 1000 GPM American LeFrance fire engine was purchased in 1960. Station 62 was built in 1964 to provide fire and rescue service to Los Serranos and what is now the Chino Hills area. This station also housed a permanent dispatcher to answer emergency calls. A 1250 GPM Seagrave fire engine and a Chevrolet van were purchased in 1967. The van provided first aid service for the community.
Two student dispatchers were hired in 1968 to answer the increasing call volume. They worked three, 12-hour shifts per week, and received $125 per month. A Navy surplus truck was purchased in 1969 and converted into a water truck to be used for off-road wildland firefighting. The advances made by the Chino Fire Department during the 1960's helped to change it from one of the worst-equipped fire departments in the County to one of the best.
The 1970's were a time of administrative change for the Chino Fire Department. The Chino Valley had essentially been supported by two separate fire departments since the 1930's. The Chino Fire Department covered alarms that occurred within the city limits and the Chino Rural Fire District responded to alarms that occurred in the outlying County areas. Each agency had dedicated fire engines, which would be housed at the same stations. The alarm address would determine which engine would respond-a City engine or Rural District engine. In addition, employees had separate payrolls from each agency and would be paid at different times of the month. It was an administrative nightmare. Consolidation had been attempted many times in the past; but finally in July, 1972, the two entities merged and formed the Chino Fire District.
The 1970's also provided growth to the District. Station 63 was opened at the Chino Airport in 1971 to service the airport and the dairy preserve. A volunteer station to provide fire protection to the heavily wooded area of the District was located in Carbon Canyon. Station 65 was added in 1977 to service the northern boundaries of the District and to cover the high traffic density of the 60 Freeway. Equipment was purchased to support these new fire stations.