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Register of the Stockton Fire Department Precursor Records, 1856-1905
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Stockton Fire Department Precursor Records,
    Date (inclusive): 1856-1905
    Collection number: Mss50
    Extent: 0.5 linear ft.
    Repository: University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections
    Stockton, CA 95211
    Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Stockton Fire Department Precursor Records, Mss50, Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library


    The formation of the Weber Bucket Brigade began organized volunteer fire protection in Stockton before a city government was established. Stockton's first big fire (December 23, 1849) destroyed the entire business district and demonstrated the need for both fire and police protection. The result was the establishment (June 26, 1850) of the Weber Engine Company and the authorization to purchase Stockton's first small hand engine. After a second major fire (May 5, 1851) the City Council approved the purchase of a new engine and the organization of the Protection Hook and Ladder Company (November 15, 1851). Two years later (June 2, 1853), the Eureka Company was formed. Competition between the Weber and Eureka Companies led to them being reorganized into one department (February 7, 1854) under the control of a single chief. The San Joaquin Company was established the following month (March 4, 1854). Later that same year a new engine was added.
    Mechanization and professionalization of Stockton's Fire Department proceeded slowly over the next half-century. In 1862 the City purchased its first steam engine, but not until 1870 were horses used to pull engines for the first time. The San Joaquin Company added a chemical engine in 1873--the first in the state. Fire hydrants eventually replaced underground cisterns throughout the city in 1891, and a year later the City installed a steam whistle to replace the fire bell atop the Eureka Fire House that had been used for the previous forty years. Full maechanization began in 1913 and was completed in 1924 when the last horses were retired. In the meantime, professional firefighters began to replace volunteers by 1888 when the first paid department was organized and scheduled for around-the-clock service.

    Scope and Content

    This collection includes corrrespondence, financial and legal documents and miscellaneous papers of the Stockton Fire Department, 1856-1887 (headquarter unit)and from five divisions: Eureka Fire Company, 1856-1905; San Joaquin Fire Company, 1856-1887; Weber Fire Company, 1875-1886; Protection Hook and Ladder Company, 1880-1887; and Exempt Firefighters Company, 1903-1905.