history & highlights



The first American settlers were believed to have settled in Tampa after 1824. This followed the establishment of Fort Brooke in the downtown area by the U.S. Army. In 1855 Tampa was incorporated as a city. As the city grew in the 1800’s large cigar manufacturing communities grew as well in West Tampa and Ybor City. At this time fire was a constant threat due to the amount of wooden structures and boardwalks. In order to combat this threat seven volunteer fire companies, or “bucket brigades” were organized between 1884 and 1886. Alert, Resolute, Phoenix, Vigilant, Relief, Humanity and Myrta were responsible for the firefighting in Tampa. Their water sources included two public wells in the downtown area, the Hillsborough River and the Jackson Street ditch which would fill with water during the rainy season. In 1886 the first hand pump was donated to the city by Mr. Robert Mugge. Known as the Mugge pump it was equipped with 350 feet of two-inch hose and was dragged through the city streets by hand. On May 10, 1895 the city council passed a resolution authorizing Tampa’s first professional, paid fire department. A.J. Harris was the city’s first fire chief and presided over 22 firefighters with an annual budget of $18,000. By 1900 there were 5 fire stations providing protection for the city. 

  • Station #1 at the southwest corner of Florida Ave. and Layfayette (now Kennedy Blvd). This is where “old” City Hall stands today. 
  • Station #2 at 1313 8th Ave., Ybor City. This building is still standing and in use today. 
  • Station #3 near the southwest corner of Platt St. and Magnolia Ave. in Hyde Park. This wooden structure was eventually replaced by old #3, which is still standing today on the southwest corner of Platt St. and Magnolia Ave. 
  • Station #4 at the corner of 9th Ave. and 18th Street, Ybor City. First built in 1897, it was replaced in 1906 with a brick building. It was replaced with the current #4 in 1972. The 1906 building was inadvertently razed in the 1980’s. 
  • Station #5 near Florida Ave. and Palm Ave. in Tampa Heights. Opened around 1895, this wooden station was used until around 1906 when it was replaced with a new brick station on Florida Ave. between Palm Ave. and Oak St. Neither are standing  today.  Station #5 one block to the north was its eventual replacement in 1925.  

1900 - 1919


March 1, 1908, Ybor City. A fire started in the wooden shingles of a boarding house at 1914 12th Ave. The fire eventually burned over 17 blocks and destroyed 171 cottages, 42 two-story frame buildings, 5 cigar factories and 5 brick stores.


In 1909 Tampa purchased its first motorized apparatus. This vehicle was named the “Mary H” after Fire Chief Harris’ wife. This vehicle was built by American LaFrance and was a combination chemical and hose wagon.

1911 – New Station #1 at 720 Zack St. was opened and also housed headquarters for the fire department. This is now the site of the Tampa Firefighters Museum. A new Station #3 was also built in the same location as the original #3.

Early 1912 – Two more American LaFrance combination chemical hose trucks were purchased. 

Station #6, still in use today, was opened in the Port of Tampa neighborhood of Palmetto Beach in early 1914.

April 18, 1914, Downtown. Jetton Lumber Company at Polk St. and Jefferson St. burns and destroys the mill, 42 cottages, a two-story frame building and a two-story brick storeroom.

July 27, 1914 was the last day horses were used by the city of Tampa Fire Department. 

1920 - 1929

1924 – Station #2 rebuilt at 2611 N. 12thSt., (Ybor City). Station #7, 5215 Taliaferro Ave. (Seminole Heights) and Station #8, 401 S. Albany Ave. (Hyde Park) open.

January 1925 – The City of West Tampa is annexed and with it the station at the corner of Main St. and N. Albany Ave. 

1925 - A new Station #5 is opened to replace the original station just one block to the north. This station remains in service until the current station is built in 1985 in the Robles Park neighborhood. 

1925 – 1926 – The city purchased one American LaFrance 750 gpm pump, one American LaFrance 1000 gpm pump, and three Seagrave 750 gpm pumps.

1928 - Station #10 is opened in the College Hill / Belmont Heights area of East Tampa.

1930 - 1939

July 1, 1933 – Station #8 and Station #10 are closed and 10 men are laid off due to effects of the Great Depression. 

1940 - 1949

1941 – Tampa’s first Rescue squad is placed in service. 

1945 - Tampa's Dispatch moves from City Hall to Station #1 at Zack St. and Jefferson St.

1946 - Station #8 in West Hyde Park re-opens.

1947 - Tampa Fire receives its first radio frequency from the FAA - WLDH.

July 1949 - Dispatch has a change in radio frequency to KIA 653 - Still used today.

1950 - 1959

1953 - June or July - 'Signal' (Dispatch) opens in their own building at 2904 N. Mitchell St.

January 1954 – The city annexes Sulphur Springs, Drew Park, Palma Ceia and Ballast Point, nearly doubling the size of the city. 

1954 – The first Howe 1000 gpm pumper is purchased.

April 1955 – Rescue Squad 2 is placed in service. The city purchases three new LaFrance 1000 gpm pumpers. 

1956 – Rescue Squad 3 placed in service. 

July 30, 1956 - Station #11 (Sulphur Springs) opens.

1958 – Five new stations open. #9 in West Tampa, #15 in South Tampa, #16 in Six-Mile Creek, #17 on Davis Islands and #18 in East Tampa.

December 3, 1959 – Station #14 opens in Palma Ceia replacing the old station on W. Barcelona Ave.  


1960 - 1969


1961 - Tampa’s first fireboat the 65 ft. "Gail Holland" is placed in service.

May 12, 1961 – The City of Port Tampa is annexed by the City of Tampa and acquires Station #19.

February 1962 - Station #10 in the College Hill / Belmont Heights neighborhood re-opens.

November 5, 1964 – Station #13 opens near 40th St. and McKinley Dr.

December 1, 1968 - Robert Tucker, Tampa Fire Departments first black firefighter is hired.  

1970 - 1979


September 1970 – The first aerial platform from Snorkel Mfg. Co. was placed in service at Station #1. It was eventually moved to Station #4 when the new #4 opened in 1972.

April 16, 1974 – Fireboat "Francis Bellamy" replaces the "Gail Holland". The 68 ft. vessel had a 6,000 gpm capacity and was built by Harold B. Paasch in Erie, Pa.

1976 – Fire Station #2 closes and reopens as the departments Supply Division.

June 25, 1978 – The first female firefighter Mechy Kent is hired by the department.

June 27, 1978 – A new Headquarters and Station #1 is built directly across the street from Old #1. This station includes a racquetball court, gym, sauna and Jacuzzi.

1980 - 1989


1981 – Old Station #7 is replaced with a new Station #7, remaining in the Seminole Heights neighborhood.

1982 – Old Station #8 in Hyde Park is replaced by a new Station #8 in the Westshore area.

1985 - Old Station #3 is replaced with a new Station #3 remaining in the Hyde Park neighborhood and Old Station #5 in the Tampa Heights neighborhood is replaced by new Station #5 in Robles Park.

1986 - 3 Seagrave engines arrive and are assigned to Engine 1, Engine 3 and Engine 7.

1988 – Tampa places in service their first Ventilation Truck. Vent 1 was equipped with a diesel powered turbine fan capable of moving 80,000 CFM through a 3 foot flexible duct. 

1988 - 4 Seagrave engines arrive and are assigned to Engine 5, Engine 7, Engine 8 and Engine 11.

December 1988 - Fire Station #20 opens in the New Tampa area.

Tampa trains their first Hazardous Material Technicians. Originally assigned to Engine 31, they are all now housed at Station #6 in the Port of Tampa. 


1990 - 1999

1990 - Tampa receives it last 2 Seagrave engines. They are assigned to Engine 1 and a Squirt is assigned to Engine 9.

1991 – Tampa purchases their first enclosed cab engines. Two Pierce Lance two-stage 1250 gpm pumps were placed at Station #4 (Engine #4) and Station #5 (Engine #5).

1992 - 3 Pierce Dash engines arrive and are placed at Engine 1, Engine 3 and Engine 10.

1994 - 2 Pierce Dash Squirts are assigned to Engine 3 and Engine 4.

1997 - The first 5 of many more to come arrive. Tampa gets 5 Pierce Quantum engines. They are assigned to Engines 1, 8, 13, 14, and 15.  

1999 - 5 more Pierce Quantum engines arrive and are assigned to Engines 5, 7, 11, 12 and 18.

October 1999 – Fire Station #12 is rebuilt in the mirror image next door, and slightly behind, the current #12 to make room for the widening of Hillsborough Ave.  It is dedicated in May of 2000.

2000 - 2009

May 19, 2000 - A 454 unit apartment complex under construction in Ybor City caught fire after a forklift operator snagged a high-tension power line. The fire burned the six square block complex and damaged many exposures.

2000 - 2 Pierce Quantum engines arrive and get assigned to Engine 9 and Engine 14.

2001 - 2 more Pierce Quantum engines arrive and get housed as Engine 1 and Engine 21.
2002 - HIT 6 is replaced with a new Pierce Enforcer. 

January 5, 2002- Tampa makes national news when a teenager flies his plane into the Bank of America.  

2002 - Fire Station #13 is rebuilt on the west side of Busch Gardens replacing the 38 year old Station #13 which was on the east side of Busch Gardens.  

2002 - Fire Station #21 is built in the Cross Creek area of New Tampa. This station was opened to decrease response times from distant stations traveling through heavily congested roads.

2003 - 4 new Pierce apparatus arrive. 2 Quantum engines, Engine 8 and Engine 13 as well as 2 Dash trucks, Truck 9 and Truck 13.

2005 - 2 new Pierce Quantum engines arrive and replace Engine 3 and Engine 4. 

March 2006 - New Fire Station #2 at Tampa International Airport opens, combining and replacing Station #2 (west side) and Station #22 (east side). This centrally located station brings together 4 ARFF units, 1 paramedic unit, 2 reserve ARFF units and a mass casualty trailer. The firefighters assigned to this station enjoy a state-of-the-art facility that includes a racquetball court, sauna, hot tub, class room and gym.

2006 - Tampa purchases 5 Pierce Enforcers which become assigned to Engines 8, 10, 11, 13 and 15.

2007 - The first 2 Pierce Quantums in the new 'Buccaneer' paint scheme arrive. Engine 1 and Truck 1, a 100' Tractor-drawn ladder, are placed at Station #1.

2008 - Engine 5 and Engine 12, two new Pierce Quantums, are placed in service.

2010 - 2019


2010 - Tampa receives its largest delivery of Pierce Quantums. The 6 new engines get assigned to Engines 7, 8 , 13, 14, 15, and 18.

April 19, 2012 - Fire Station #22 is opened in the New Tampa area of Cross Creek and Morris Bridge Road. Like Fire Station #21, this station was added to improve protection and response times to the ever growing area of New Tampa.

July / August 2012 - Four new apparatus arrive. Engines 9 & 11, Truck 14 and HIT 6, all 2012 Pierce Quantums go into service.

April 21, 2014 - Fire Station #11 is replaced approximately 1 mile west of it's location of almost 60 years. The new station gives the crews of Tampa's busiest firehouse a much deserved new home. This station will continue to serve the residents of Sulphur Springs, Lowry Park and Forest Hills.

August 11,2014 - Fire Station #19 is replaced approximately 1 mile east of its annexed location of over 50 years.  This station will continue to serve the residents of Port Tampa and Interbay.

August 2014 - Engine 22 is replaced with a new Pierce Quantum. This new 1500 gpm engine will carry 1000 gallons of water unlike all other engines which carry 500.

December 2015 - New Engine 4 arrives. Now assigned a 2015 Pierce Quantum with a 500 gallon water tank as well as a 30 gallon foam storage tank managed by a 1500 gpm pump.

December 2016 - Truck 21 in New Tampa replaces their Quint with a 2016 Pierce Quantum.

August 2017 - Hyde Park's Engine 3 is replaced with a 2017 Pierce Quantum equipped with a 500 gallon water tank, 30 gallons of on board foam and a 1500 gpm pump.

December 2017 - Tampa creates a 5th District.  D-5 consists of Stations 20, 21, 22 and will have the soon to open Station 23.

July 15, 2018 - Engine 23, a 2018 Pierce Quantum (1500gpm / 500 water / 30 foam) and Rescue 23 go into service running out of Stations 13 and 12 respectively. Station 23, under construction in the Grand Hamptons neighborhood of New Tampa is scheduled to open in Spring of 2019.

August 2018 - Tampa receives 3 new Quantum pumpers. These units go in service replacing Engines 1, 5 and 12. These 2018 Peirce Quantums have 1500 gpm pumps with 500 gallon water tanks and 30 gallon foam tanks.

October 7, 2018 - Truck 23, in a reserve, goes into service running out of Station 4 in Ybor City.

January 2019 - Truck 13 and Truck 21 go into service in 2018 Pierce Quantums. These 100' platforms are equipped with a full compliment of hose and a 2000 gpm pump. Truck 21's Quantum is reassigned to newly created Truck 23.

February 2019 - Firehouse #23 opens in the Grand Hamptons neighborhood.  It will cover communities of Grand Hamptons, The Hammocks and The Esplanade. Assigned to Station #23 will be Truck 23, Engine 23 and Rescue 23. 

August 2019 - Engines 7 and 13 are replaced with new 2019 Pierce Quantums outfitted with 1500 gpm pumps, 500 gallons water and 30 gallons of onboard foam.

September 2019 - Truck 9 is replaced with a 2019 Pierce Quantum 95' Mid-mount Platform.