The Willows Fire Department has grown and restructured over the years, from the beginning with the bucket brigade, to present day fire engines. All of this change has risen from years of growth and change within the city.
Through Willows’ history, there have been four major fires, which have brought a beginning to the Willows Fire Department, and changed the city entirely. On May 30, 1882 the most destructive fire occurred in Willows’ history, which nearly wiped out the entire downtown at that time. Thirty-three buildings were lost in the fire, most of them being thriving businesses, with an estimated loss of $200,000.
The town would rebuild once again until the next devastating fire struck again in 1886, near the same location. With strong winds blowing on that day nearly the entire block was taken, only the bank at that time was spared. The fire had an estimated loss of over $140,000. The city rebuilt again, not only the downtown area, but also adding another 50 homes to city limits.
With all of the destruction the city had already experienced, it was decided that the bucket brigade at that time was not sufficient for the protection of it’s city.
In 1887 the Willows Fire Department was then organized, with two hose companies. Each company was supplied with carts holding various fire equipment, including axes, ladders, nozzles and hose. It wasn’t until 1914 that the city purchased their first pumper; it’s first motorized apparatus.
The Fire House was located at City Hall, on North Butte St, at the location of present day Willow Walk Mall. The Fire Hall would stay at that location until the rise of our present day downtown developed in the 1960’s, prompting our present location on South Butte St, in 1962.
Presently the Willows Fire Department has grown from the bucket brigade and hose companies, to having a combined nine apparatuses, between the rural and city departments. There is a total of five paid staff, which includes the Chief, a Captain and three Engineers.
Although we have paid firefighters manning the firehouse 24 hours a day, the need for volunteers is absolutely essential. The volunteers play a vital role in fully completing the Willows Fire Department. The manpowered required in everyday emergency calls, can well exceed the paid staff’s capabilities, thus requiring the need for volunteers.
The volunteers consist of 30 plus members. Elected officers manage the political and social functions of the volunteers, allowing them to function smoothly.
Along with the paid staff, and the rural department, they all combine together making the Willows Fire Department.
As technology changes and our society grows with the times, the Willows Fire Department is ready to maintain the same duties and services which it has been providing the city for the last 120 years.
Click link below to watch a brief video of the department's history