Excerpts from “Friendswood, A Settlement of Friendly Folks”, Baker, Joycina Day. 1st Edition, 1994
1950-1960 The Discovery of Friendswood
“A growing community like Friendswood was in need of fire protection, and newcomers gladly joined the local men when they suggested a need to organize a Volunteer Fire Department in 1951. Before that, the farmers kept their pressure fig sprayers filled with water and responded to fires to do what they could. They could control grass fires, but homes were too big a job for the fig sprayers. Dale Brown, Floyd Brown, Jr., and Aubrey Cole signed the papers for the incorporation of the Friendswood Volunteer Fire Department, and it was duly recorded with the Office of the Secretary of State April 3, 1951. Volunteers met on the first and third Tuesdays of each month to conduct business and to practice firefighting. Cecil Brown, Sr. was instrumental in acquiring a Chevrolet truck from Pearson Chevrolet in Alvin, Texas, which the men modified by adding tanks and a pump to convert it to a fire-fighter. They constructed a building about the size of a two-stall garage (at 109 E. Willowick) to house Friendswood’s first fire truck, and the siren was sounded by a switch activated by the phones at the business/residences of Jimmy Albritton and Pete Workman.”
One Friendswood resident …”vividly recalls watching the business-men and other men who happened to be in the community respond to the fire siren by getting the fire truck from the garage, pulling up to the Snack Shoppe (corner of Willowick and Friendswood Dr.) and waiting for someone to come out to give them the location of the fire.”
“Thanks to that first Volunteer Fire Department, the city has the arena park, originally called City Park.” The tax assessor/collector for the school district at this time, “informed the VFD (the only incorporated community organization) of the availability of a tract of land for back taxes and suggested the VFD acquire it for a community park. They did just that on July 27, 1954. (It is located between the 100 block of Briar Meadow and Coward’s Creek.) After the acquisition of the property, the Fourth of July celebrations were held at the park, sponsored by the VFD as fund raisers. The volunteer firemen were in charge of the event until 1959.
1960-1970, The Birth of the City
“The Friendswood Volunteer Fire Department, which was chartered and incorporated in 1951, was still operating with one donated fire truck. The need for more protection for the larger population was recognized by Councilman Ralph Lowe in 1965, and he was able and willing to borrow the money for a new International firefighting truck. Lowe signed a personal note for $19,000 at Alvin State Bank, which the city paid off by 1969. A good portion of that debt was retired by the $1 per month donation paid with the homeowners water bills over those four years.”
“There were differences of opinion, too, among the old and new fire fighters. Old-timers, who had always battled pasture and grass fires with backfires and controlled burning, remember the scorching rebukes they received from the women who joined the VFD in the 1960’s. The women were convinced the fire department’s mission was to extinguish the fire, not set another.”
“In 1969, the city guaranteed payment for an additional fire truck, and provided alarm equipment which enabled each individual member of the VFD to be placed on alert at the time the fire call was placed. The VFD was ready to enter the 1970’s capable of handling any situation likely to occur in Friendswood.”
1970-1980 The Adolescence of the City
In 1973 the voters gave their approval to two bond issues one of which was for a proposal to spend $100,000 for a new fire station.
“The Volunteer Fire Department rejoiced over the note because they had been cramped for space for some time in their stalls at City Hall, and had appealed to the voters for help. After the voters Okayed the money, it took two years to get a site approved, plans drawn, and the new building constructed at 1000 S. Friendswood Drive. The new fire station was dedicated Saturday, April 19, 1975, with state, county and local officials on hand for the celebration which lasted from 10:00 am to past midnight.”
“The spacious facility featured a large meeting room, library and conference room, kitchen facilities, recreation area, dormitory space, dispatch area, offices for department personnel, as well as space for the two pumpers, the all-terrain vehicle and the new truck equipped for rescue and extrication.
Clarence White, the Friendswood Fire Chief at that time, and the 30 men and women, all volunteers, trained in fire and rescue procedures, appreciated the way Friendswood was supporting their efforts.
The new fire station was also the base for the Emergency Medical Service arm of the VFD, which had been in place for two years. It was referred to as the Friendswood Emergency Ambulance Service, when it began its operations in August 1973, with a real ambulance. Before 1973, the VFD was using an old, retired station wagon style ambulance which Froberg Funeral Home in Alvin had provided. The volunteers painted it red and cajoled it into service.” (The first EMS run was logged 4/12/1972)
“The first modular ambulance, which cost less than $15,000, was purchased by the city, thanks to the persistence of Van Williams who appeared time and time again before the City Council until he convinced them of the need. During their first year of operation, the ambulance service answered 131 calls, rushed 101 persons to medical facilities and delivered one baby en route to Clear Lake Hospital at Webster. The average response time of the ambulance was 5.7 minutes.”
“The Emergency Medical Service was fortunate to have many women volunteers who joined the group throughout the 1970’s, and made the commitment necessary to take the training and to give their time to serve as emergency medical technicians.”
1980 and Beyond
“…in 1983, the 9-1-1 Emergency program went on line, providing the residents of Friendswood and the surrounding area immediate response to an emergency. “
“When the Friendswood Volunteer Fire Department conducted their annual fund drive in 1993, they informed the community that they were operating three fire stations, which housed nineteen pieces of fire apparatus and three advanced life-support ambulances. That equipment included the new $250,000 Pierce Javelin 2,000 GPM pumper that had been placed in service in January 1992.”
In 1993 the Friendswood Volunteer Fire Department was staffed with 89 highly trained and dedicated Friendswood volunteers.
Today the FVFD is staffed with over 90 highly trained and dedicated volunteers. Our volunteer department is supplemented with 22 paid day crew Paramedics and Firefighters. We currently operate four stations, three Mobile Intensive Care Ambulances, one Ladder truck, four Engines, one brush truck, one support vehicle, one duty officer vehicle, 4 EMS first responder vehicles (equipped with AED’s), 1 EMS Chief’s vehicle, 1 Fire Chief’s vehicle and two Asst Fire Chief’s vehicles.
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