Started by Arnold B. Veile - May 1st, 1954
The Worland Volunteer Fire Department was organized thru the efforts of the Floyd Minch Post # 44 of the American Legion in 1929 with A.E. Chenoweth as its first Chief, who served until 1936 J.W. Walters served as Chief during 1937 to 1939; H.H. Fritzler 1940 to 1946.
E.H.(Swede) Oscarson was elected Chief in January of 1947.
The Fire Department was composed of one Chief, three assistants, and 23 men, with one of these serving as Secretary- Treasurer. All memberships were voted by the department with the approval of the Town Council. All officers were elected for one-year terms. Of the original charter group only one man was still active.
The original equipment consisted of two 2-wheel hose carts and one 2-wheel soda and acid chemical cart plus the usual accessories of a few nozzles and axes. The first motorized unit was a Chevrolet truck with a homemade body and its replacement was a chain drive, Armstrong starter, Brockway which was used until 1942 when a new truck was purchased with a 500-gallon rotary pump mounted midship. In 1946 a rescue car was added to the mobile equipment and was replaced in 1952 with a panel truck which could be used as an ambulance.
In 1948 the department was incorporated into the first organized Rural Fire District in Wyoming. An F. W. D. truck with a 500-gallon per minuet centrifugal 3 stage high pressure pump with a 500-gallon tank was purchased for their use. A 1,100-gallon tanker was purchased to compliment the rural truck.
The first equipment was stored in an all-night garage and the fire alarm consisted of a steam siren mounted at the local power companies steam generator plant. Later a 3 horse power electric siren was installed and was soon replaced with a larger electric siren. Equipment was stored in a modern building with a meeting room and kitchen facilities.
Late in 1948 the Town Council moved the fire department out of the original building, and fixed up the old Gifford blacksmith shop on Robertson Avenue for a garage and built in a meeting room in the corner.
The fire department answered emergency calla of all types and due to its progressive thinking commands the respect of the entire community as evidenced each year by the attendance at its annual dance on Thanksgiving eve which was open to the public.
HISTORY OF THE WORLAND VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT,
Continued Written by C.Earl Lemmon, April 1964
In 1949 the Rural board put the 1,000-gallon tanker into service. In 1958 a small power takeoff pump was mounted midship under the tank, which could pump out of the tank or out of a ditch.
In 1955 a 10 horse power, electric siren was mounted behind the fire hall with the controls in the telephone office. About this time a two-way radio, on the police and highway patrol band, was installed in the emergency car. In 1957 when the dial telephone system went into effect in Worland, the siren controls were moved to the police office, and the police office went on a 24-hour basis. The telephone company installed a box in the police office which could receive 10 calls at once and the firemen would dial an unpublished number into the box to get the location of an alarm.
In 1960 the old 3 horse power siren was installed in the City Park, and it would blow in conjunction with the big one behind the fire hall.
In 1958 the city purchased a new fire truck, a G.M.C. chassis with a Howe body, 750 Gallon a minute pump, and a 500-gallon water tank. This truck was put in service in the spring of 1959. Also, in 1858 the city enlarged the fire hall to house the two rural trucks.
In 1961 the Rural board traded the FWD fire truck in and got a new International truck with a Howe body, 500 GPM, 500-gallon tank, and a piston pump. In 1962 the Rural and the City purchased a new emergency car. It was a Ford ranch wagon; which carried the same emergency equipment the old one had. The old emergency car was retained for a Chiefs car. In 1964 a second 2-way radio was acquired and installed in the new ambulance. In the winter of 1963-64 the City of Worland outfitted each fireman with a bunker coat.
In the spring of 1964, a retirement plan was adopted by the City Council whereby any fireman serving continuously on the department for 20 years may retire and still receive his water, sewer, and garbage disposal free of charge. The Board of Public Utilities rejected the plan, but adopted it in 1965.
E.H.(Swede) Oscarson served as Chief through 1956.
Max Johnson served as Chief in 1957 and 1958.
In Jan. of 1959 Earl Lemmon was elected Chief.
For a number of years, the department gathered, repaired and distributed toys to the needy children of the community. In 1962 the project was abandoned due to lack of in treat and help. Each year the firemen would have a stag Christmas party, turkey and all the trimmings, generally served by a ladies organization of the community. In February of each year the Rural Board would entertain the firemen and their wives at a dinner at the Wagon Wheel.
The fire Department pretty well earned their money, answering about 70 fire calls each year, both City and Rural and about 55 to 60 ambulance calls. This is an average of a little over 2 calls per week for the year.
HISTORY OF THE WORLAND VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT,
Continued Written by Robert L Taylor, June 2001
Prior to May of 1977, the Worland Volunteer Fire Department was separated into a city and a rural department. Although the members of the department were the same, equipment used to fight fires was provided by the City of Worland and the Rural Fire District. City equipment could not be used outside city limits, and rural equipment was not to be used in city limits. The rural area was defined as the green area of the valley. During this time the equipment was housed at 714 Robertson Avenue and a wall that separated the city equipment from the rural equipment divided the station. Because of the job of keeping hose, nozzles, etc. separated, each entity would take turns with the purchase of those type of items. The equipment consisted of a 1962 Ford Station Wagon, and a 1967 Ford Station Wagon that was jointly owned by the city and the rural district. The rural district equipment consisted of a 1954 International Tanker "Tender" that held 1000 gallons of water, and a 1962 International Howe 500 gallon-per-minute Pumper. The city equipment consisted of a 1959 GMC Howe 750 gallon-per-minute Pumper and a 1967 International Howe 750 gallon-per-minute Pumper.
In 1976 because of a concern that there was property outside of the district's boundaries that was unprotected, and that the school buses were traveling outside the boundaries, the fire department started a petition to become a fire district. This Fire District would include the City of Worland, and have the same boundaries as the Washakie County School District #1. This was placed on the ballot in November of 1976, and passed. In May of 1977, the Worland Fire Protection District #1 became a reality. In August of 1977, the first election for District Board Members was held and three members were elected to serve. In the next election, the number of members was increased to five.
A project that started in 1974 became a reality in 1977 when a grant was received to build a new fire station. The location of the new station was a long and often bitter battle, that ended in December of 1978 when the department started moving into its new station at 200 South 5th Street. This project was spearheaded by Council Member Lowell Peterson and Fire Chief Bob Taylor. Lowell later became a Fire Board member and served in that capacity for many years.
In 1977, an effort was started to improve the district and city's insurance ratings. Prior to that time, the city's rating was a class 8 and the district a class 9. With the purchase of some new equipment and a commitment by the volunteer firefighters to training and certification, the rating was dropped to a class 5.
In 1980, the district hired its first full-time employee. Robert Taylor, who also served as the Volunteer Fire Chief, was selected as Fire Marshall for the District.
In 1984, land on 15-mile road was obtained and the fire department members started building a training center. Endless hours were committed by the volunteers and although still not completed, a training center with a four and half story drill tower, burn building, pump test pit, hose testing area, and a flammable liquid pit was constructed.
In 1985, a second paid-position was added, that of maintenance technician, and Tom Crichton was hired.
Because of their efforts and the commitment of the Fire District's Board to up-grade equipment, in November 1987, the District received an ISO class 3 rating. At that time this was the first class 3 given to a volunteer fire department in the surrounding five state region.
In 1995, the district submitted a grant request to the State of Wyoming for funds to build a sub-station. This grant was approved and a sub-station was built on 15-mile road just east of the training center.
In 1998, the department started a cadet program in which school students between the ages of 15 and 18 can take part in the department's program. To date there have been several students that have participated in the program, and some of those, upon graduation from high school, have joined the department as full volunteer firefighters.
In October 1999 ISO again audited our community and the ISO Class 3 was maintained.
In 2001, the WFPD fleet consisted of three Command Units, one Squad, one Rescue Truck, four Structural Engines, one 75-Foot Aerial, and Four Wildland Engines. The membership of the department remained close to that of the original department, around 30 members. In addition to the training every Tuesday night, approximately 160 to 180 calls were answered per year.
Chief Robert Taylor retired July 31, 2001 and Chief Don Huber began leadership of the Worland Fire Department at that time.
In 2003 the work of many bought one of what is now eight Reginal Response Teams to Worland. Worland hosts RERT 6 this covers Washakie, Park, Hot Springs, and Big Horn Counties.
In 2003 the department was able to purchase its first Thermal Imager. In 2004 Engine 9 was replaced and updated and in 2005 Squad 1 was replaced and updated to have wildland firefighting abilities.
In November of 2007 Chief Don Huber left the WFD and leadership changed to Interim Chief Chris Kocher from 11/2007 to 8/2008. The new chief position that was accepted stalled and Interim Chief Chad Carlton served from 8/2008 to 10/2008 when Chief Wes Long was hired. Chief Wes Long served from 11/2008 to 10/2010 when leadership changed to Chief Chris Kocher.
In May of 2008 all the hydraulic extrication tools on Rescue 2 were replaced and Squad 1 was outfitted with extrication ability.
In 2011 Engine 7 was replaced and updated with Pierce Dash Pumper/ Tender with a 2500-gallon tank. This gave the department the ability to care 6,250 gallons of water out to a county fire. In 2012 the department added an additional type 6 wildland engine to the fleet.
In 2012 and 2013 the forceable entry, roof ventilation prop, and positive pressure attack burn building were completed at the training center. In 2014 the Propane Prop field was updated to include a tank, Tree, and vehicle prop with safety center.
ISO completed a updated audit in 2014, during that time the WFD ISO rating changed to a 3/9 to a 3/8B due to the increased water capacity with the update of Engine 7.
2015 saw the replacement of Engine 8, being the first four-wheel drive structure truck Worland has used. 2016 and 2018 saw the replacement of Engines 61 and 62. Also in 2018 all air packs in the WFD fleet where updated and replaced with MSA G1 packs.
In 2020 the delivery of the new ladder truck, Pierce Ascendant 110-foot platform, was accepted and replaced the 35-year-old 75’ ladder truck.
ISO completed an updated audit in 2021, during that time the WFD ISO rating remained a 3/8B (3/3Y) the overall score increased to 78.01 just short of an ISO 2 rating.
Currently our fleet consists of a Rescue Truck, Squad Truck, 2500 Gallon Tender, 110-Foot Platform, Four Structural Engines, 3-Type 6 Wildland Quick-Attacks, 4-Type 4 Wildland Units, a Department Semi, Smoke Bus, 4 Command Units, and we house the Regional Emergency Response Team 6 Hazardous Material Truck & Trailer as well as Decontamination Unit for the State of Wyoming.
Current approximate call volume is 200 to 250 calls annually.
Worland Fire Department Chief Historical Succession: