The Owensboro Fire Department is celebrating a major milestone this week: 150 years of serving Owensboro.
The Owensboro Fire Department began as a formal organized municipal fire department with the hiring of the first Fire Chief, Horace Miller, on August 1, 1866.
To celebrate, a public showcase and anniversary celebration will be held at the Owensboro Convention Center on Saturday, August 6, 2016, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. OFD will showcase both historical and modern apparatus and equipment. There will be plenty of activities and food for the public.
The Early Years:
During the first several decades of existence, the City of Owensboro relied first on citizen bucket brigades and later on various volunteer fire companies for fire suppression.
After a series of large fires in the late 1850’s and early 1860’s, City fathers began to discuss the creation of a municipal fire department.
The first Owensboro Fire Chief, Horace Miller, was hired on August 1, 1866. He was tasked with bringing the various fire companies together to develop the Owensboro Fire Department. This would take nearly a year to accomplish. Chief Miller would continue to serve as Chief until June 1879, when he retired and returned to work in a local stable downtown.
Edward Cureton was appointed Fire Chief in June 1919, initiating a more modern era for the Fire Department that introduced a motorized fire apparatus and developed a comprehensive Fire Prevention program. Chief Cureton also helped in the specification and design of a new fire apparatus that would be named after Owensboro.
Up until 1919, the fire department would simply focus on the suppression of fires. Under Chief Cureton, OFD would focus on both the ability to suppress fires and the ability to reduce the risk of fire and reduce the spread of fire through fire codes.
During Chief Cureton’s tenure, OFD was award-winning, bringing in five (5) awards for fire prevention efforts. OFD has been led by 26 Fire Chiefs in the last 150 years, with Cureton serving the longest term. He was inducted into the Kentucky Firefighters Association Hall of Fame in 2011.
OFD now operates five (5) Fire Stations and a Training Center with 94 full-time personnel and responds to over 7,000 emergency calls for service annually, providing a full range of emergency services including fire suppression, emergency medical first response, hazardous materials release response, technical and specialized rescue, fire boat and water rescue.
OFD also provides a full range of non-emergencies including fire prevention and fire safety education and continues to be award-winning bringing in the “Life Safety Award” in 2013.
Chief Steve Mitchell, Fire Chief since August 2008, earned the Kentucky Fire Chief of the Year award for 2013.
OFD prides itself on the ability to provide professional services on a local and regional basis, professional development of the firefighters, the ability to maintain quality emergency response equipment, the professional customer service delivered to the citizens, and earning a Class 2 Insurance rating.