Thursday, October 06, 2022
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The Atascadero Fire Department was first established as an all volunteer department in 1915. As construction began on the Administration Building community leaders bought a model-T Ford truck equipped with a soda acid water tank to use as a fire truck. Later, Lew Cole was hired to be on duty during the dry summer months only. Cole owned his own fire truck and was in charge of arriving at the scene of fires to direct volunteers as they arrived. Volunteers were paid $1.00 per fire.

In 1922 the Atascadero Fire Protection District was founded on the heels of a disastrous 5,000 acre wildland fire near the Eagle Ranch property. Originally the district was 7 square miles in area with a population less than 3,000. On February 4, 1926 Atascadero’s first paid fire department was established. The original firehouse was built the following year at 5815 Traffic Way. It followed a traditional design with two engine bays on the ground and living quarters upstairs. It still stands today and serves as a mixed-use residential/retail structure.

Old Fire Engine

Charles Adams was the first fire chief serving from 1920 to 1929. He passed away at the early age of 30 from heart failure and was replaced by Fred Frank.

One of the first pieces of equipment purchased by the department was an REO Speedwagon which carried 490 gallons of water, 800 feet of various size hose, ladders, and four back tanks. There was also an Oldsmobile hose truck carrying 1,000 feet of 2 ½” hose that was used only in the business section of the city.

Following World War II with an ever increasing population the community changed from agricultural to a suburban bedroom community. The Fire District recognized the need to move the department in the direction of increased staffing. This was done not only to improve service but to make up for the lack of available personnel during daytime hours. Fire station one, located at the corner of Lewis Avenue and Traffic Way, was built in 1952 and has undergone several alterations to accommodate the increase in personnel.


The Fire District dissolved in 1979 when the department became an official part of the newly incorporated City. It has since grown from one fire station to two, from 10 to 21 paid members, and a staff of 12 reserve firefighters.

Over time, the fire department’s mission adapted to an evolving environment that became increasingly complex.  Atascadero City Fire Department continuously expanded their skill set, always striving to provide a competent response to each and every call. 

It was determined in 2015 that the title “Fire Department” did not sufficiently describe the variety of services provided by the organization.  As a result in 2016, a new name was selected that more accurately represented the broad range of services rendered.  As of September 7th, 2016, the Atascadero City Fire Department was officially renamed the Atascadero Fire & Emergency Services.   By incorporating the fire department’s concept of “all-risk” in our new name, it is our intent to increase community awareness of the all-encompassing emergency services available to them in their time of need.


Category: Fire Department

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