A Look Back at Spokane Fire Station No. 3

Spokane Fire Station No. 3 was housed in a new brick building at Sharp Avenue and Monroe Street, built in 1899.

In 1912, the new fire chief, Albert “Boomer” Weeks, was promoted to preside over the Spokane Fire Department. He had several priorities when he was hired: cut down on expenses, hold regular hose and ladder practice, require building inspections, educate the public about safety and build a first-class repair shop.

The fire department’s machine shop was built behind the No. 3. With few production trucks to choose from in that era, Weeks had his fire crews building gasoline-powered motor units to pull the old horse-drawn 900-gallon pumpers. It took a few years to build enough tractor units, which weren’t very fast, but they made horses and steam-driven rigs obsolete and decreased response time.

Although the firefighting profession had modernized and emphasized training since the epic 1889 fire, just getting equipment to a fire was still hazardous and backbreaking work involving heavy wagons, complex hitch assemblies and teams of horses, which had to be cared for and housed in each station. Modern fire engines, with equipment mounted on board, weren’t common until the 1930s.

A short 1912 news story gave a dramatic account of Chief Weeks rolling up to a fire and seeing a lady with a squirming blanket in her arms and screaming, “Help, help! My darling will be killed!” The story says Weeks took his stand below the window and shouted, “Throw the child down; I will catch it.” The bundle dropped into his waiting arms and he discovered he had caught a white poodle, which then bit him.

Weeks died in 1935 at the age of 56. He had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and was almost completely blinded by it when he succumbed to the flu. After his death, The Spokesman-Review reported, “He never asked any man to confront any danger into which he himself did not lead the way.”

For more information, view spokesman.com

 

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