Jonathan Ferrera sits on an antique fire engine that was on display at the Fire Department Centennial celebration on Oct. 13. Right, Caleb Monnell enjoys a lift on a tech rescue tool with firefighter Nick Degrosso.
PINELLAS PARK – The Pinellas Park Fire Department marked 100 years of serving the community on Oct. 13 with an open house and Centennial celebration at Fire Station 33.
Residents came out to celebrate the Fire De
partment’s history, and to check out the antique fire truck show and display of current equipment.
Days earlier at the City Council meeting on Thursday, Oct. 11, Mayor Sandra Bradbury presented Fire Chief Doug Lewis with a proclamation – which was unveiled at the Oct. 13 event – commemorating the growth of the Fire Department over the past 100 years.
Just 16 volunteers founded the Fire Department in 1912. At the time, there were only 50 families living in Pinellas Park. The first fire hall, built on 50th Street, was funded by contributions from citizens, and the only equipment available to the volunteers was a two-wheeled hose cart, and handmade tables and benches for meetings. By the next year, though, the department had its first fire chief, Walt Bender, and ordered its first real pieces of equipment: a horse-drawn ladder cart and a horse-drawn chemical cart.
Pinellas Park grew to a community of over 2,000 by 1925, and the department bought its first fire truck, an American LaFrance Type 75 truck with a mechanized triple combination pumper. This fire truck, as well as its sister truck which was delivered to Gulfport in the same shipment that year, were both on display at the Centennial event.
In 1958, Sonny Harrison, who had been the volunteer chief for 10 years, became the first full-time paid fire chief in Pinellas Park. Two years later, the city hired its first two full-time paid firemen.
The department continued to grow, and in 1975 Station 2 opened in a warehouse at 112th Avenue and 49th Street, and also began providing paramedic services. Today, the department has a staff of 93, and six fire and EMS stations.