History of the Stillwater Fire Department
1883 - A fire broke out in the 900 block of South Main in Stillwater. In response, local jeweler M.J.W. Holt urged the town board to acquire firefighting equipment. As a result, the board purchased an old barn located at the northwest corner of 9th and Lewis, and relocated it to serve as Stillwater Fire Station No. 1. Today, a sign at this location commemorates the station's history.
1900 - M.J.W. Holt was appointed as the town's first Fire Chief. That same year, a brick building was constructed to replace the old barn that had previously housed the fire station.
The first fire wagons used in Stillwater were horse-drawn, and were kept at Meyer's Livery across the street. The two horses that pulled the wagons were named "Doc" and "Bill". This brick building served as the headquarters for the Stillwater Fire Department (SFD) for over seven decades, until it was replaced in 1974.
Early 1900s - Herb Ricker, the first person in Stillwater to own an automobile, purchased the Pastime Theatre, which was located at 612 South Main. Ricker eventually sold the theater to the Fire Department, and it was renamed the Fireboy's Theatre. The theater was used to raise funds for the department and became a popular community gathering spot.
1931 - A group of innovative men, led by Stillwater Fire Chief J. Ray Pence, recognized the need for improved fire service training and materials in the United States, specifically in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. The Central Station in Stillwater hosted the first-ever fireman's training school.
1934 - In July of 1934, a gathering of educators and fire service leaders drafted a series of training manuals with the aim of providing comprehensive and valid information on fire fighting while being economical in publication. Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) was tasked with publishing and distributing these manuals. Three years later, the iconic Red Books were created.
This meeting marked the beginning of a yearly tradition that would launch the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA). The IFSTA is now the largest publisher of fire training materials worldwide, and is a non-profit, volunteer organization with participants from around the globe.
1937 - The iconic Red Books were created. These books have become famous within the firefighting community and are still widely used to this day.
1940s - During the years of World War II (1939-1945), college and high school women bravely stepped up to serve as volunteer firefighters. For more information, read History's Mysteries and Stillwater's First Responders on Stillwater Living Magazine.