The Pullman Fire Department was formed July 23, 1890, after "disastrous fires had levelled the city three times in the six years previous". "Rescue Hook and Ladder Company No. 1" was organized as an auxiliary of the Pullman Hose Company. The first hook and ladder truck was a hand-drawn vehicle. The trucks ladders could be extended "to the top of the highest buildings in town in an incredibly short time" per an early newspaper account.

WSU Fire Department History

According to a Pullman Herald account, student firemen at Washington State College date back to 1922-23, "when nine students manned the pumps." In the early '20s they lived in a metal shed attached to the rear of College Hall. In response to calls, they pulled a rickshaw-like fire cart across campus lawns and fields.

The college purchased its first fire truck, a Mitchell, in 1925, about the time the fire station was being established in a mechanical building on the present site of Daggy Hall-at the top of Engineering Hill. The current three-bay station across from the Compton Union Building was built in 1962.

The campus has experienced a number of significant fires. In the spring of 1949, a major portion of a wing of North House, one of the two-story World War II-vintage student residence halls known on campus as "Cardboard Castle," burned down.

An April 4, 1970 blaze destroyed 10,000 seats in the south grandstands at Rogers Field-now Martin Stadium-causing nearly $300,000 damage. The arson fire occurred during spring vacation, when only four firemen were on duty. The wood grandstands burned for three hours. That blaze was the impetus for adding full time staff to the department to provide for increased staffing coverage round the clock.

More than 400 students have supported their education as WSU firefighters. The WSU Fire Department was discontinued in May 2005 when the City of Pullman took over fire suppression and ambulance transport responsibilities.

WSU Grandstand Fire

From Washington State Magazine, Winter 2003/04 By Pat Caraher. Photography by Shelly Hanks.
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