Fresno Firefighters Shaping Firefighting Industry

Fresno Firefighters Shaping Firefighting Industry

The Fresno Fire Department is one of the oldest departments in the Country. Some of their first firefighters helped develop tools and methods that have been picked up by other departments and are still used today.

The Fresno Fire Department is one of the oldest departments in the Country. Some of their first firefighters helped develop tools and methods that have been picked up by other departments and are still used today. 

"I could hardly wait to get to work every morning because I knew it was gonna be a great day," says former Fresno Firefighter Bill Phillips.

Phillips along with other Fresno Firefighter have strived to preserve the history of the department. At the Local 753 Union Hall they have old leather helmets, jackets, an antiquated water pumper and countless other pieces of history. Firefighters that used the items helped develop safer methods. 

"We have a lot of appreciation for the guys of the past who didn't have the technology that we currently enjoy today," says Fresno Firefighter Richard Griffith. 

Phillips worked for Fresno Fire for 29 years. He's seen a lot of the innovations have come out of Fresno. Phillips says the fire department would build their own trucks. They were called "Fresno Specials," according to Phillips. 

Phillips says other departments would copy their designs saying "we're going to build a Fresno Special."

"All the motors were the same kind of motors, everything was the same so if the mechanic could fix one, he could fix any of them," Phillips says. 

The "Fresno Specials" were built in the department's shop at Station 3. Fresno Firefighters also used the shop to create other needed tools. They designed special belts called "spanner belts." The belts had tools to open a hydrant, open a hose, carry a hose and hook yourself on a ladder. 

Fresno also built their own hydrants called "Fresno Hydrants." The specially designed hydrants enabled firefighters to hook hoses of different sizes to it. The "Fresno Hydrants" have mostly been removed and replaced now. Several firefighters have originally "Fresno Hydrants" at home as souvenirs. 

Fresno Fire Department is most known for creating the "Fresno Ladder." It's a smaller version ladder that lets firefighters get into attic spaces so they can get closer to the fire. Manufacturers now make and sell the ladders to departments around the Country. It's still called the "Fresno Ladder.'

Today innovation is still present but it's changed. The department's use of funny public service announcements and use of helmet cameras get the firefighters noticed today. 

It's how the department continues to make a name for itself today. They're helping men and women across the country to save more lives. 

'It's pride and there's a lot of self satisfaction," Phillips says, "Anything that we can design and make our job better, it could make everyone's better."
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