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October 11, 2011 > History: Warm Springs Fire Department

History: Warm Springs Fire Department

A Warm Springs volunteer fire department was organized in July 1944. John Souza was chosen fire chief, Antone Brazil assistant, and the department operated with equipment loaned by the county.

Residents secured 200 signatures on a petition to form a County Fire Protection District, and a public hearing was held January 28, 1945. Tony Vargas, Orville Leitch, and Joe Leal were appointed fire commissioners to manage the district as agents of the county supervisors. The Warm Springs Chamber of Commerce helped raise funds and secure the necessary fire fighting apparatus. The firemen raised $500 for equipment at a whist party in December 1946.

The department had no property and no fire station, so Minnie Sarmento Souza provided a location. She lived on a 30 acre farm on Warm Springs Road south of Mission Boulevard. A shed attached to a hay barn housed the truck described as a 400 gallon pumper. The siren horn was located on top of the tank house. Calls came into Minnie's home, and she pressed a button to sound the alarm siren. Minnie provided the water from her tank house and opened her home for the monthly meetings of the volunteer firemen.

The first time the men took the truck out they didn't know how to handle the great pressure of the water from the hose and they blew several bales of hay off the stack before they got control of the nozzle and the water pressure. They used up almost all the water but there was enough left to put out the fire.

The Warm Springs fire department was called out Saturday, August 23, 1947 to control a fire started by an overturned truck. Fire enveloped the truck and spread to nearby grass and brush. The firemen put out the fire and saved the main truck body without serious injury to anyone. Many of the fires in the area were started by passing motorists tossing out cigarettes.

On a Sunday afternoon, the firemen were called to Hidden Valley Ranch to pump out the swimming pool and recover the body of a drowned young man. It was too late to save the victim, but the firemen helped make sure no one else was in the pool. As the firemen returned to the firehouse, they were immediately called to fight a grass fire near the county line. It was a busy weekend. Firemen on duty included; John Sousa, Joe Brown, Leonard Baptiste, Tony Vargas, Manuel Duarte, Frank Perry, Joe Sarmento, Ruben Ramos, Tony Brazill, William Borba, and Melvin Leal.

Warm Springs residents secured the help of Supervisor Chester Stanley to establish a county fire protection district. Some 200 property owners signed a petition to hold an election and the measure passed easily; the Warm Springs County Fire Protection District was established. Joseph Brown, Orville Leitch, John Leal and Fred Breitwieser were chosen to be the fire commissioners. They voted to keep John Sousa as the district's first fire chief.

The three-year-old fire department staged the first annual Warm Springs Firemen's Ball in 1948. Proceeds from the dance were used to pay for equipment and department expenses.

The district purchased a 60 X 200 foot lot north of Warm Springs School and hired Contractor, L. M. Potts to build a 1,100 square foot fire station. The old fire equipment was replaced in 1953 with a new 500 gallon White-Van Pelt pumper. The old outfit was kept for fighting grass fires.

In 1956, the district became part of the new City of Fremont and Fire Commissioner Henry Kato reported in April that the Warm Springs department was in fair shape and could wait for the other stations to be brought up to standards before he requested new equipment.

The firehouse became Fire Station 5 in the City of Fremont and served until 1992 when it was demolished and replaced by a new 6,080 square foot building, six times the size of the old station. The tiny 1,100 square foot building had served for over 40 years and housed full-time firefighters who ate, slept, and trained there in later years. It was crowded, but there were only two people on duty at a time. Station #5 was the oldest of the 10 current firehouses in the City of Fremont in 1992. It looked more like a single-family home with a garage than an official city fire station.

The Warm Springs industrial area developed rapidly and a new station was needed. The city leased space in a parking lot at 46335 Landing Parkway in 1999 and constructed a "heavy PVC membrane structure" to house one fire engine. Temporary station 11 was designed to protect the south industrial area until a permanent station could be constructed as part of the Catellus project.

The City of Fremont took possession of the more permanent Station 11 in 2011. It was constructed on a pattern that was a reverse image of Station 5. It could not be permanently occupied for a while due to City financial problems.

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