San Jose Fire Department celebrates 170 years with museum event

January 31, 2024

San Jose fire department’s historical journey

The San Jose Fire Department marked its 170th anniversary with a significant event at the San Jose Fire Museum.

Fire Chief Robert Sapien expressed his astonishment at the department’s evolution, which spans from the era of horse-drawn carriages to the modern age where a new fire station is being prepared for electric fire trucks.

“It’s an incredible energy this organization has to move forward at such a pace,” Sapien said at the celebration.

The department’s journey began on January 27, 1854, with the San Jose Common Council’s establishment of a single volunteer company, Hook & Ladder No. 1.

Today, the department operates from 34 stations, serving about 200 square miles and responding to approximately 110,000 calls annually, over 70,000 of which are medical emergencies.

Community engagement in the anniversary celebration

The anniversary event featured a breakfast prepared by members of Firefighters Local 230, attended by over 150 people, including 104-year-old retired Fire Capt.

Sam Seibert, former fire chiefs, local government officials, and residents.

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan highlighted the constant dedication of the fire department amidst the city’s technological transformation.

“The unwavering commitment, bravery, and strength of the countless men and women who have put their lives on the line to keep us safe,” Mahan remarked.

The celebration showcased the department’s rich history through its extensive collection of historic firefighting equipment.

San Jose fire museum: a window to the past and present

The San Jose Fire Museum, located in the old Fire Station No. 1, displayed a special exhibit featuring an original silver badge from Hook & Ladder No. 1 and a copy of the department’s original constitution from 1854.

Museum President John McMillan and Vice President Jim Carter, both retired firefighters, guided visitors through the collection.

The museum, which continues to evolve, will be open to the public starting February 3, every first Saturday of the month and every Tuesday from 10am to noon.

For more details, visitors can refer to sjfiremuseum.org.

FSJA Comment

The San Jose Fire Department’s 170th-anniversary celebration is a testament to the enduring legacy and evolving capabilities of one of the nation’s oldest fire departments.

The event not only commemorated the department’s historical journey but also underscored its commitment to adapting to modern challenges, such as the integration of electric fire trucks.

The participation of community members, retired firefighters, and local officials reflects the strong bond between the department and the community it serves.

The San Jose Fire Museum plays a crucial role in preserving this rich history, offering the public an opportunity to connect with the past while appreciating the advancements in firefighting technology and techniques.

This milestone serves as a reminder of the importance of fire departments in safeguarding communities and highlights the continuous evolution of firefighting practices over the centuries.

Read Next

Subscribe Now