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Fire & Rescue Department History
The Lockhart Fire Department was officially organized in September, 1888. Much has changed in the last 128 years since the first group of volunteers known as The Lockhart Volunteer Hook and Ladder Company, responded to and fought fires here and in the county. Since its organization, the fire department has been led by 11 Volunteer and 4 Paid Fire Chiefs. The fire department has had many fine people both Volunteer and Paid, go through its ranks who have provided dedicated service to the city and county.
Lockhart Fire Rescue badge
In its early years there was a "washing committee," whose duty it was to wash the small hand drawn truck after each fire. The truck which was mounted on four steel wheels, carried several ladders and a number of rubber buckets. Several years later, the department bought two small hose carts with reels for carrying a small amount of hose. These carts were usually pulled by several men, but if anyone happened to have a good horse near the firehouse at the time of an alarm, it was borrowed to help pull the cart. The fire equipment was housed under the old opera house until 1893 when the first fire station was built. It was a two-story frame building 24 by 60 feet. Soon after, the department was divided into two companies; The Hook and Ladder Company and the Pump Company. Fortunately today because of advanced technology, we no longer have to rely on "Bucket Brigades," or Horse-Drawn Apparatus.

The first official uniforms of the department were ordered in March, 1890, and were seal brown dress suits trimmed in red with caps to match trimmed in gold. In March 1901, the uniforms were changed to blue with silver buttons. The first written constitution was adopted in 1895. Among the changes, it provided for the election of a queen and sponsors. It also provided a means by which the department received funds. Because they received no funding from the city, all of the money was secured from fines and dues paid by the members. The fine for missing a fire was $2.50, and for missing a meeting was $1.00.

In March, 1901, when two streams of water from 2 inch fire hoses shot 60 feet into the air from two different points in the city, Lockhart officially had running water. When the Ice Plant was completed, a steam operated siren was placed there. When the siren would sound, the water pressure would be pumped up in the lines sometimes so strong, the water lines would pop right out of the ground. Shortly after this, the city realizing what an invaluable and courageous service the volunteers provided, assumed financial responsibility. In 1914, a New City Hall and Fire Station was built that housed two modern pumper trucks, one older pumper truck that was the first motor driven fire apparatus in Lockhart, and a Hook and Ladder truck.

Lockhart Fire Department building located at 201 West Market Street
Many organizations have graced their presence within the walls of this historic building. Some of those include; the Army National Guard who used the building for many years to store firing pins for munitions, the Lockhart City Hall and Municipal Court both conducted business here, Social Services groups worked out of the second floor of the building to provide many services to the general public, and the Police and EMS Departments of the City were both here for many years. Both of these departments were moved in 1988 to the part of the City Municipal Building that is now the Glosserman Room used for City board meetings and also houses the Developmental Services and Building Departments.
During its history, the Fire Department has had only one line of duty death, that of Volunteer Firefighter, Louis Wolff, who tragically died while responding to a fire on March 3, 1947. Local business institutions respectively honored his memory by placing a memorial plaque in the front entry of the building. 

For many years, the Fire Department sponsored a Boy Scout Explorer Post, that provided the Volunteer Fire Department with members. While a few Volunteer (now called Reserve & Support) Firefighters still remain, the department is predominantly made up of full-time career (Paid) Firefighters. The full-time Firefighters handle the majority of the emergency calls, but still heavily rely on the Reserve Firefighters to provide support. The current department changed its name from the Lockhart Fire Department to Lockhart Fire Rescue in 2000, and is led by Interim Fire Chief Jerry Doyle. There are presently 15 full-time career firefighters and two reserve and support firefighters who serve their community with dedication and pride. 

The department operates out of one station that is manned 24-hours a day, and also has an un-manned station that the Reserve firefighters respond to and pick up additional apparatus when needed. The firefighting fleet consists of three Class-A Pumpers, a Light Rescue Truck, a CAFS Brush Truck, a SUV support vehicle and two Command Staff vehicles. 

Over the years, there have been many tragic fires to which the department has responded to day or night. There have been several civilian deaths as a result of those fires. In 1988, it was recognized that there was a great need to do something about decreasing the number of persons who die as a result of fires. A vigorous program was undertaken to promote Fire Safety from an early age by joining forces with the Lockhart Independent School District. This Fire Safety Education effort continues today.  The department has been recognized for its continued efforts over the past 21 years by the Residential Fire Safety Institute of Fairfax, VA. Also in 1995, the Fire Department received the NFPA's "Learn Not to Burn" Champion award, and has continued this program in conjunction with the Lockhart ISD since that time to assist local Teachers who instruct students from this fire safety curriculum. To this effort, one local student was recognized for saving not only his life but the lives of several other family members when their house burned. The lessons learned by that student were directly attributed to the fire safety behavioral skills taught and learned on an LISD campus. 

While the city is no longer considered a small town, the fire department must plan for future growth, and to this end, there are plans to construct new facilities and purchase new fire apparatus that will certainly improve the quality of life for current and future citizens. We, as a city department whose primary concern is our service to the citizens, are committed more than ever to provide professional emergency services to all of our citizens regardless of the cost.

Copyright © 2016, City of Lockhart, TX

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