District history stretches back to the Gold Rush
Devastating fire in 1858 prompted town leaders to form a hook-and-ladder company
A fire that broke out late on June 4, 1858, was the crisis that prompted San Andreas residents to form a fire protection company.
According to an account published in the San Andreas Independent the next day, the fire started in a “vacant building at the lower end of Court Street, formerly used as a fandango house.” (“Fandango house” was a Gold Rush-era name for a dance hall.)
According to the news account, a watchman spotted the fire but “as no water or buckets could be procured in time, the entire building was soon in flames.” The newspaper building survived, allowing this article to be published the next day:
Less than two months after the fire, residents met in the newly-rebuilt Garry’s Saloon. They voted to take up a collection to buy hooks and ladders. They also elected William Irvine, a lumber mill and lumber yard owner, to be foreman. He was in charge of using the money to buy what was needed.
In the early decades, firefighters paid for the honor of helping to quench the flames during emergencies. The 1878 bylaws governing San Andreas Engine Company No. 1 said that department members were to pay $2 upon joining and 50 cents a month in dues. They could be fined for failing to attend monthly meetings.
It wasn’t until 1912 that the district became a governmental entity rather than a privately-organized fire company. Today, the district serves a 66-sqauare mile area. It is governed by a five-member elected board and supported by property taxes. Still, the annual tax revenue of about $260,000 a year is barely enough to keep the lights on, buy gasoline and pay the salaries of the only full-time employees — a chief and an office manager.
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Call volume by month
See a month-by-month breakdown of district service calls here.
San Andreas Firefighters Association fundraising
District personnel formed a nonprofit group to raise money for district needs including firefighter protective gear and equipment used to pry injured people out of vehicles after accidents. Learn more on the Association page.