Department History

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Department is an organization that emerged in 1997 as a result of combining the Lawrence Fire Department and the Douglas County Ambulance Service. The members of these two exceptional organizations are now the heart of one outstanding team.

The Lawrence Fire Department was first organized in 1859 as "Republic Engine Company No. 1". This volunteer fire company was formed after purchasing a steam engine and hose cart from St. Louis, MO in the winter of 1858. In 1862, this company was disbanded because of a lack of funds from the city due to the Civil War. In 1868, after constant persuasion for better fire protection from local businessmen, the city council created a volunteer fire department deemed the Head Center Hose Company. The initial firehouse, the "old engine room", was a barn at 11th and Vermont. In 1869 the Head Center Hose Company moved to the Market Building that became City Hall at 8th & Vermont. The Headquarters station has remained in this location for over 130 years.

In 1915 the Head Center Hose Company became the Lawrence Fire Department, a fully paid department, thus ending the volunteer fire service era in Lawrence. In 1950's the Lawrence Fire Department received an E & J resuscitator from the Sertoma Club of Lawrence and started running "resuscitator calls" in Lawrence when needed, the first venture into the world of Emergency Medical Service (EMS).

Today Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical responds to approximately 9000 alarms out of six response stations and two support facilities. Our department provides all service missions to the City of Lawrence, University of Kansas, and Haskell Indian Nations University. Emergency Medical Services are provided to all cities, universities, and unincorporated areas within Douglas County. The City of Lawrence has a fire protection rating class from the Insurance Service Office of 2.

View "The History of the Lawrence Fire Department 1859 - 1975", book published June, 1980.

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