Our Department's History

The Emporia fire service originated with the volunteer bucket brigade, followed shortly thereafter by hand-pulled hose carts. The first recorded service was with Fire Company Number 1, which was organized in 1873 with J. L. Bell as President.

When Fire Company Number 1 began operations, the major equipment consisted of hand-pulled hose wagons. In 1871, a wagon owner named Tom Ryan constructed the first fire wagon. By 1882, the equipment consisted of two hose carts named "Champion" and "Defiance", a Babcock engine and a hand-pulled hook and ladder truck. In 1883 a horse drawn reel wagon was purchased which meant that the firefighters no longer had to pull the equipment to their destination. The department became motorized in 1916.

In 1941, the Emporia Fire Department moved into its present headquarters in the Civic Auditorium Building. At this time there were 24 firefighters on two shifts with ten vehicles and other first aid and rescue equipment.

In 1973, the department began operating the Lyon County Ambulance Service. The department went to a three platoon system in 1975. At this time the number of employees rose to 27 members.

Fire Station 2 was opened in April of 1979. It has been used as the department's training grounds and was used as the primary medical helipad for Emporia. There was one officer and four firefighters assigned to Station 2 at that time. Station 2 housed one ambulance, two pumpers, one brush fire unit, one reserve pumper and one rescue boat.

The Department Today

The Emporia Fire Department is now 134 years old with an authorized strength of 45 shift fire/emergency medical services (EMS) personnel. Station 1 is headquarters for the Chief, Deputy Chief, Administrative Assistant and Billing Clerks. The Fire Marshal is located with Code Services.

Today, Station 1 has nine personnel assigned each shift including the Battalion Chief, Captain and seven firefighters. Station 1 houses two ambulances, one pumper, one rescue truck, one grass rig, one water tender, one UTV, and one rescue boat.

Station 2 has six personnel assigned to each shift with a Captain and five firefighters. Station 2 houses a variety of equipment including three ambulances, two pumpers, one grass rig, one rescue boat, hazardous materials response trailer, one UTV and a utility pickup.

Major Fires & Disasters

  • 1878: Kansas State Normal School
  • 1901: Sprague Lumber Yard, First Methodist Church, Randolph Barn, Newton Livery Stable
  • 1912: Henning Building
  • 1913: Whitley Opera House
  • 1915: Stewart Hall, College of Emporia
  • 1921: Whitley Hotel923 African Church
  • 1925: Grace Methodist Church
  • 1942: Congregational Church, Friends Church
  • 1950: Masonic Temple, Fleming Building
  • 1957: Methodist Church
  • 1960: Sheep Barns, Toms Motors
  • 1964: Haynes Hardware
  • 1971: Kansas Soya Products Mill
  • 1973: Ice Plant
  • 1974: Tornado
  • 1981: Deco Center
  • 1983: Nickerson Farms
  • 1986: Travel Lodge
  • 1990: Tornado
  • 1994: Home Lumber Company, 725 Commercial
  • 1996: 601 Clark Street Mobile Home Park
  • 1999: Santa Fe Depot
  • 2001: East Gate
  • 2003: Flood on Kansas Turnpike
  • 2004: Bruff's
  • 2011: Reading Tornado
  • 2012: Glacier Petroleum Explosion
  • 2014: Grass Fire