The Pittsburg Fire Department was created on July 21, 1905 by the Board of Aldermen (City Council) who appointed a fire committee to start the process. On August 23, 1905 the first municipal water system became operational. Fire hydrants were placed on this system which was supplied by an elevated water tank. Prior to the creation of the department, fires were fought by local citizens using water buckets and makeshift aids.
By November of 1905, the Pittsburg Fire Department had the following:
- A fire station (small building to house a hose cart)
- A fire alarm (bell and tower)
- A hose cart with 500 feet of 2.5-inch hose, a nozzle, and a fire hydrant wrench
Pittsburg’s first firefighting vehicle was a hose cart similar to the one pictured.
First Motorized Fire Apparatus
The first motorized fire apparatus was a 1919 Ford Model "T" which served the citizens of Pittsburg from 1919 to 1947. It had a 250 gallons per minute (GPM) pump, 600 feet of 2.5-inch hose and 150 feet of 0.75-inch hose, and a 24-foot extension ladder.
Rural Fire Service
Rural fire service in Camp County was initiated on October 1, 1955. This was a result of a fire that threatened to destroy a house outside of the city limits of Pittsburg in 1955, in which a young mother was attempting to fight the fire by herself using a dishpan and water from a well. Long-time Pittsburg Mayor D. H. Abernathy made the decision to respond to the fire with one of Pittsburg's fire trucks which, up until that time, were to be used only inside the city limits.
Upon his return from that fire, Mayor Abernathy spoke to community leaders across the county seeking support for rural fire service. Fundraisers were held in all of the communities in Camp County to help pay for fire equipment. In 1955, Mayor Abernathy and machine shop owner, O. P. Gillespie, built the first fire truck which was used in both the City of Pittsburg and Camp County. It was placed into service on October 1, 1955. Notice the lettering on the hood which reads "Pittsburg, Texas City-R.F.P." (Rural Fire Protection). This gold leaf lettering was done by local sign painter and volunteer firefighter Oscar Hughes, who later became a career firefighter for Pittsburg. This truck responded to literally every fire in Camp County until a second rural truck was constructed locally and placed into service.
Mayor Abernathy, who was a mechanical engineer, in concert with other local machine and fabrication shops and local firefighters, designed and constructed nine additional fire trucks that were used throughout the county.