Welcome to the White Settlement Fire Department Website History Page
Organization, Apparatus, Facilities
A group of citizens and businessmen of the community who realized the need for fire protection for the city and vicinity organized the White Settlement Fire Department in the early months of 1949. The following officers and firemen organized the Department.: Officers were; President, Leonard Pemberton; Secretary Bill Proctor; Chief Loran Rhine; Asst. Chief E.D. McCrary; Capt. 1 M.G. Beasley; Capt. 2 A.M. Hanson; Lt. 1 L.D. Dobbins; Lt. 2 Red Barry. The Charter Firemen for 1949 were Joe Pinkerton, H.O. Burchfield, R.L. Looper, C.W. Adkins, R.L. White, J.A. Barnes, Curby Mirike, W.N. Hines, Odis Clark, Roy Brannon, L.L. Turner, Bob Prindle, J.L. Stokes, B.K. Mauldin, and Leslie Ballweg.
The purpose and objective of the Department remains the as same when it was first organized and is best expressed in Article I section 2 of the constitution and By laws of the Department.
“Its object shall be the preservation and protection of property from and during such fires as may occur in the city of White Settlement and vicinity or any other disaster or situation where this Department may be of assistance in protecting or promoting the safety and welfare of the public.”
The Department obtained its 1st piece of equipment before they had a fire hall to house it. The truck was a 1923 model Reo 350 GPM pumper with a 100-gallon booster tank. This truck was purchased from the city of Grand Prarie in the month of May 1949, for $635. The Department made the initial payment from donations and money received from benefits sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary, which was newly organized at that time. This auxiliary worked just as diligently as the firemen to get the Department started. With the Reo Pumper, affectionately known as “Old Betsy”, the Department fought fires of all types in and out of the city. In 1969 “Old Betsy” was sold to a fireman in Grand Prairie.
The city then had an organized Fire Department and a fire truck. But no self-respecting Fire Department operates without a fire hall, so the problem of building a hall was discussed from many angles. After attempts to build a hall failed, the city arranged to lease a building from Mr. Curby Mirike to house the city government and the Fire Department. On September 24, 1949, Mr. Mirike started work on a building on White Settlement Rd. that was to house the city government and Fire Department until they moved into the present city hall at 214 Meadow Park Drive.
In December 1949, the Department received its 2nd piece of equipment. The city purchased a surplus 1942 model Army Air Force crash truck for $2100. Before its retirement, this truck served the Department very well. It was the first truck out on every alarm. The truck averaged approximately 200 fires each year it was in service.
Early in 1951, the city was growing steadily. As more buildings rose over the city and fireplugs were installed, the need for another pumper was evident. On April 4, 1951, the city purchased for $2800, a 1942 Ford pumper with a 100 gallon booster tank. This truck had a 500 GPM two stage centrifugal pump. It also carried up to 1400 foot of 2 ½ inch hose. The city purchased $2200 worth of hose in September 1951 to equip this truck.
In early 1954, the Department purchased from Fire Department funds, a 1950 Chevy panel truck to be converted to an emergency truck. The emergency truck carried all kinds of equipment, including an E&J 3 way resuscitator unit. This unit was purchased by the Department in 1953 at a cost of $650. Also this truck was equipped with splints of all types, and first aid kits with an extra bandage case.
In 1953 the Fire Department found that the federal government, through the Civil Defense Department, would help cities adjoining defense installations purchase fire equipment. Upon investigation White Settlement was found to be eligible for this program. This enabled the city to purchase its next piece of equipment on March 9, 1954, a General Detroit pumper with a 500-gallon booster tank. It was equipped with a 750 GPM 2 stage centrifugal pump and carried up to 1500 feet of 2 ½ inch hose. Due to its large booster tank it was just effective a booster as it was a pumper. The total cost of this unit was $15,346. The Federal government paid $6,000 towards the purchase of this truck.
In 1956 the Department purchased a 19-foot Cruiser Craft Rescue boat and later in the year equipped this boat with a 30 HP Johnson outboard motor at the cost of $130.
In September 1956, at the cost of $5,826 the Department purchased a 1956 F600 booster truck with a 680-gallon tank. This truck was equipped with a 200 GPM Hardy rotary pump and operates a power take off unit that gives it the advantage of pumping while in motion as well as stationary. This unit was sorely needed to combat the increasing number of grass fires in the area. When this truck was in service it was “first out” and always manned by 3 volunteers.
In the early 1960’s another booster truck was purchased. It was a cab-over type similar capacity to the 1956 F-600 unit. In 1967 the city council and a master plan steering committee headed by John Griggs, Fire Chief. They recognized the need for larger expanded quarters for the fire fighting equipment. They also knew that fire insurance rates were in danger if a backup fire truck pumper was not provided. On March 4, 1967 the people of White Settlement, in a record turn out, defeated a Fire Department bond issue by only 4 votes. The city council arranged for short term financing in 1968 through White Settlement National Bank and purchased a new “Fire Boss” 1000 GPM fire engine pumper by spreading payments out over 3 years.
Space remained an unresolved problem. From 1968 until 1972 city councils and the volunteers listed an expanded fire station as a major unfounded priority for the city. In 1971, the city council budgeted surplus money accumulated since 1967 and some funds returned by the Fire Department from its own 1971 budget to build a new fire station. Construction got underway in 1972 and the new facility located at 8303 Hannon (approximately ½ block west of old location) was dedicated January 28, 1973. This is where the White Settlement Fire Department is still housed today!
Currently the Department maintains 8 trucks which they respond to emergencies in. Pump 2, manufactured by Emergency 1 in 1984 cost the city $110,000 when it was new. Usually Pump 2 is dispatched to all MVA's and is sent to fire scenes as needed. In 1986 the arrival of Quint 1 at the Fire Department generated much fanfare among the citizens and local news papers. It is made by Emergency 1 and greatly enhanced the ability of the Department to do its job, at the cost of $300,000. Of course as new equipment arrived some of the overworked and worn out equipment was put out to pasture. In 1990 the city council authorized the purchase of Pump 1, made by Pierce at the cost of $156,000. Pierce Manufacturing sold the Department another truck in 1994. Pump 3 is the first out on most fire calls. This truck cost $176,000. The city also purchased a 1994 Chevy Suburban which served as primary EMS/Rescue truck until it was replaced in 2001. It was re-designated C-1 and is used the Chief to respond to emergencies. Utility 1 a Pierce/International/Encore began its service in the Department in 2000. It cost the city $125,000. This is an invaluable piece of equipment in many regards. The year 2000 turned out to be a bumper crop year for new equipment for the Departments use. Brush 4, a one ton Dodge fitted for fighting grass and brush fires also arrived in 2000, at the cost of $38,000. The last major purchase by the city was a 2001 Chevy Suburban, designated Rescue 8. This truck cost $30,000.
As it pertains to the care of the fire equipment over the years much could be written. (but I will not) In the early days of the Department and up until the late 70's, the volunteers themselves kept the trucks running. They performed everything from minor maintenance to major overhauls. It would not be uncommon to find one of the trucks in hundreds of pieces as it was being repaired by the volunteers. These men certainly went the extra mile. Of course present day volunteers perform maintenance on the trucks, but not to the degree the members did for the first 25 years. Since the last 70's the city began to shoulder the major responsibility to maintain the equipment and keep it ready to respond to emergencies within the city.
During the last half century The White Settlement Fire Department has had no more than 12 Fire Chiefs. In 1949 Loran Rhine was voted as the Departments very first Fire Chief. He served for 1 year. From the 1950 through 1952 the Department displayed their confidence in Marion Beasley as the Departments Chief. In 1953, Roy Brannon served a 1-year term as Chief. CW “Bill” Flowers served in the office for 3 consecutive years from 1954-1956. During the years of 1957 through 1959, John Griggs began the first 3 years of what would be a long tenure in the Fire Chief’s office. However there was a break in his service during the years 1960 and 61 when Joe Pinkerton served in the capacity of Fire Chief. Once again John Griggs received a vote of confidence for the position and served from 1962 until 1980 when he died of cancer. He served for a total of 22 honorable years. Ken Slovak took the position after the death of John Griggs and served through 1982. Mike Burris was voted into the office in 1983 and served faithfully through 1985. Jimmy Burnett . He began his tour of duty in the office in 1986 and took a two-year break as other civic activities required his attention in 1995. From 1995 through 1996 Jack Bell took the reigns of the Department. In 1997 Jimmy Burnett returned to serve in the office and retired in 2006. Mike Ikerd was the next to take the helm in March 2006 and served until March 2010 in that position. Brian Thompson took over as Fire Chief in March 2010 and is still current Fire Chief today.
White Settlement Fire Fighters Auxiliary
In 1954 a group of women met, elected officers and accepted a set of by laws that would govern the White Settlement Firefighters Auxiliary. Even though they had been active since 1949, they were now formally organized. Over the course of about 30 years they did much to support the moral and welfare of their firefighters as well as set high standards of social activity within the community. The women were highly active in raising funds to help the Department buy equipment. Their activities ranged from, Tacky parties, Annual Halloween parties, 42 parties, Annual Christmas parties, Venison suppers, Chili suppers, Bingo parties, Bake sales, Turkey shoots, Rummage sales, Fireworks sales, and sales from a book named “Cooking with Fire,” along with other imaginative fund raising activities. As well the women were active in responding to give aid and assistance on the scene of fire and other emergencies.
These were some busy women. Not only did they have their daily lives, taking care of their homes and children, they spent many hours in support of the Fire Department. Along with the men of the Department, the women participated in countywide “Pumper Races” that were held one weekday every month in a designated Fire Department somewhere in Tarrant county. In fact the women of White Settlement Fire Fighters Auxiliary dominated this competition for several years and help to capture many trophies and awards for the Department.
Also the Auxiliary was active in electing an annual Miss Flame. The local winner of this award would compete for the title of Miss Flame of Tarrant County. As far as it can be determined 1981 was the last year photos or any other documentation is available concerning the Miss Flame competition. Also I determined that the ladies auxiliary died out in the late 1980's due to lack of true interest. Even so, some of the auxiliaries’ traditions remain until today. Without doubt the Fire Department could not have succeeded to the degree it has without the support of this tireless group of women! They are to be greatly commended for their service.