150 Boise Icons: Central Fire Station

March 29, 2013 

Boise's first fire department consisted of 28 volunteers who began meeting in 1876 in an old blacksmith shop on Main Street. The shop had two stalls, one of which held the city's first fire engine, the Silsby steamer, which arrived in 1879.

The volunteer force remodeled the shop, adding a room for a watchman and a bell tower. In an undeniable twist of irony, the firehouse burned to the ground in 1883.

The department relocated to various Downtown homes until it landed at the corner of 6th and Idaho streets in 1902. The move to the new Central Fire Station also marked the end of the volunteer force. The city hired professional firefighters to protect the city.

The station was a two-story brick building that had seven stalls for horses and equipment. Firefighters lived upstairs. The city bought a Metropolitan No. 3 steam pumper from the American Fire Engine Co. in 1903. You can still see the steamer and all its battle scars on display at the Transportation Museum at the Old Idaho Penitentiary.

Other fire stations sprang up around the city in the decades that followed. By the 1980s, the department had outgrown Central Fire Station. The city built a new Station 1 on Reserve Street to replace it.

Central Fire Station and its 68-foot bell tower still stand on one of Downtown's most prominent corners. The building has a new life as a home to a restaurant and businesses. The station's bell hangs in the tower, on loan from its owner, the Idaho State Historical Society.

The brass pole that firefighters once used to get between floors also remains.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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