History of the Corona Fire Department
On July 13th of 1896, the City of Corona (formerly known as South Riverside) was legally incorporated and became part of the newly developed Riverside County. A thriving citrus industry quickly emerged producing grapefruits, oranges and lemons, which brought many new residents to town. At that time, the majority of residents lived within or near Grand Boulevard. On January 26th, 1898 the Corona Volunteer Fire Department was officially organized with B.E. Savory named as the first Fire Chief. Their mission was “the prevention and extinction of fires and the protection of life and property”. Later that year, Fire Station #1 was built to house Hose Company #1 at 717 S. Main Street after the city paid the First Baptist Church $144.30 for the land and allocated $300 for the construction of the wooden building. The wooden fire house also served as the City Hall.
The hose cart required 8-10 men to pull, this was especially difficult if the emergency was up hill. Citizens were encouraged to respond with a horse, or later with engine powered vehicles to help. The first person to hook up was compensated for pulling the equipment to the fire scene. Firefighters were initially paid 50 cents per fire and were predominantly local business owners and active citizens. In 1898 there were only six fire hydrants in town, and with only 300 feet of hose, fire fights were challenging and often unsuccessful. Hotel Temescal, on the corner of Sixth and Main Streets, was the location of most of Corona’s social functions. On the night of November 23, 1899, the new department experienced its first major fire on the second floor of the three story Hotel. The Firemen laid their hose and attempted to extinguish the flames, when a passing hay wagon ran over the hose, causing it to split in two. Without any water, all the fireman could do was salvage some of the furnishings before watching the hotel burn to the ground. The total loss of the Hotel Temescal was estimated at $14,000.
On October 31, 1911 a bond issue was approved by voters which allowed for the construction of a masonry city hall building, improvement of city roads and the purchase of a gasoline engine-powered fire truck. The new concrete building housed all government offices including the fire station and police department. The photo on the left shows the department with their new 1912 Pope-Hartford chemical fire truck which was taken in the spring of 1913 at the old fire station #1.
The City Council hired two paid drivers to drive the new apparatus. Seated in the right seat at the wheel in the photo above is Art R. Blodget who was appointed in December of 1912. Sitting next to Blodget in the derby hat is Perle Glass who served with the department for over 50 years. Standing on the far right is Fire Chief B.E Smith. The Pope Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut also manufactured bicycles and automobiles prior to making trucks. The Pope Hartford Fire Truck had a water tank and used a system which mixed sulfuric acid and bicarbonate of soda. The chemical reaction of the soda and acid created carbon dioxide and the pressure of the expanding gas expelled the water in the tank out of the fire hose.
An Ahrens Fox fire engine was purchased in 1923 and was the departments first “pumper”. The fire pump was a piston pumper with a large pulsator sphere on the front. This chrome sphere served as a pressure regulator that helped smooth out pressure fluctuations, providing a steady flow of water. At the time, the Ahrens Fox fire engine was state of the art and today is one of the most sought after antique fire engines. Seated in the photo on the right is young Gene Hughes who's father was an Officer for the Police Department. This photo was taken on the apparatus driveway of the south side of City Hall which faced Eight Street.
For more information on the history of the Corona Fire Department, or to inquire about on-going historical projects, please contact Fire Headquarters at (951) 736-2220.
Fire Chiefs 1897 - Present
|Time Period||Fire Chief|
|August 2018 to Present||Brian Young|
|April 2018 to August 2018||Interim Chief Chris Cox|
|December 2014 to April 2018||David Duffy|
|January 2012to December 2014||John Medina|
|July 2008 toJanuary 2012||David E. Waltemeyer|
|May 1994 to July 2008||Michael L. Warren|
|July 1985 to February 1994||Robert McNabb|
|June 1983 to October 1985||Harvey Simpson|
|June 1981 to December 1982||Al Feuerstein|
|July 1965 to May 1981||Jim Johnson|
|December 1951 (1957?) to 1965||Glen “Spec” Hart|
|1943 to ?||Donald Burcher|
|1939 to 1943||Walter Yance|
|July 1931 to December 1938||Perle Glass|
|August 1918 to 1931||Elmer A. Bowen|
|April 1916 to July 1918||C.R. Miller|
|March 1916 to April 1916||P.H. Grow|
|January 1914 to February 1916||Ben F. Smith|
|January 1912 to January 1914||Perle T. Glass|
|1910 to 1911||Luther Patton|
|May 1905 to 1909||U.S. Cummings|
|September 1904 to May 1905||C.C. Corkhill|
|February 1902 to September 1904||D. Fred Connell|
|December 23, 1897 to February 1902||Ben E. Savory|
From 1898 to 1965, the Corona Fire Department was an all-volunteer department. In 1965 the change to a paid-part volunteer department occurred and then in 1972, the City implemented a full-time professional fire department which has grown to one of the most respected, progressive, and innovative departments in the state today.
Fire Department Divisions
The Fire Department Administration Division consists of the Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, Public Safety Administrative Supervisor, Executive Assistant, and clerical support staff. This division provides developmental oversight and planning, sets direction and policy, controls and evaluates the department, and provides direction and oversight for all personnel matters. Administration provides clerical support services and customer service for all divisions of the department and coordinates the development and administration of the department's annual operating and capital improvement budgets.
The Fire Department Operations Division provides protection for our citizens and visitors with a full service response force. This includes protection of life and property from the destructive forces of fire and the protection of life, environment, and property from hazardous materials releases. It also provides advanced and basic life support at medical emergencies, participates in search and rescue operations, responds to catastrophic events, and provides other life saving measures as needed. This division also provides mutual aid throughout the State and automatic aid and contractual aid with surrounding communities.
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