About HVFD


Called to fires by the Presbyterian Mission bell back in the early days (circa 1910-1940's), we would pull our home-made hose carts to the fire by hand. It was a good thing the army post was right next to town, because during those big fires in 1911 at the west end of town and 1915 on Mt Ripinsky north of town, every able bodied fireman, soldier and townsperson fought for several days to protect homes and buildings. The soldiers, with their own firehall and equipment, were a great help to our department duiring many large fires.

Things began to change after WWII. Chilkoot Barracks, the army post, closed. A group of veterans purchased the old Army post, turning it into a separate town complete with fire department. They had a surplus truck, (still housed in one of Haines' distant fire districts) and firehall left by the Army. Our Haines Volunteer Fire Department vehicles were all homemade, built on old flatbed trucks. One engine was pulled by hand; we just ran down the street with it like the old hose carts. Later we made a trailer hitch and pulled it with a pickup. Members of the twovolunteer departments could tell many yarns from over two decades of fighting fires together. In 1960, when the towns combined, so did the fire departments.

By then, we had our first manufactured fire truck, a 1941 Howe military surplus fire truck which our Chief still proudly drives in parades. By the late 1950's, with help from City Council, we purchased our first pumper "built to specs," and built a firehall to house it. However, the department remained in the truck building business until the second of two large tankers was completed in 1983. One of the tankers was replaced by our first shiny new "built to specs" tanker in 2008.

The Haines Volunteer Fire Department was a "fire fighting only" department until the 1970's when the Emergency Company, now the Ambulance Company was formed (history follows). A Search and Rescue Company was added to our list of services in the early 2000's. The HVFD has an agreement to help the State Forestry Wildland Firefighting team fight forest fires within reach of our equipment.

No longer called out by the church bell, we all carry pagers or radios and are toned out from a central dispatch with enhanced 911. It took awhile to get here. In the 1950's, the fire number rang in 5 homes. The first person who answered ran to the hall to ring the bell and write the fire's location on a blackboard. Later, a phone tree was instituted, then a portable Plectron system was used to tone out calls over a one way radio.

We are very lucky to have a community that supports us and a few good grant writers on the department. Fire equipment is systematically upgraded and there are many training opportunities. Within the past decade, we replaced 3 trucks and our ambulance; upgraded our SCBA system, extracationtools and turn-out clothing.

Look for vignettes of Fire Department History on our website.