Scope and Content
Title: Stockton Fire Department Precursor Records,
Date (inclusive): 1856-1905
Collection number: Mss50
Extent: 0.5 linear ft.
University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Department of
Shelf location: For current information on the location of
these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Collection is open for research.
[Identification of item], Stockton Fire Department Precursor Records,
Mss50, Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections, University of the
The formation of the Weber Bucket Brigade began organized volunteer fire
protection in Stockton before a city government was established. Stockton's
first big fire (December 23, 1849) destroyed the entire business district and
demonstrated the need for both fire and police protection. The result was the
establishment (June 26, 1850) of the Weber Engine Company and the authorization
to purchase Stockton's first small hand engine. After a second major fire (May
5, 1851) the City Council approved the purchase of a new engine and the
organization of the Protection Hook and Ladder Company (November 15, 1851). Two
years later (June 2, 1853), the Eureka Company was formed. Competition between
the Weber and Eureka Companies led to them being reorganized into one
department (February 7, 1854) under the control of a single chief. The San
Joaquin Company was established the following month (March 4, 1854). Later that
same year a new engine was added.
Mechanization and professionalization of Stockton's Fire Department
proceeded slowly over the next half-century. In 1862 the City purchased its
first steam engine, but not until 1870 were horses used to pull engines for the
first time. The San Joaquin Company added a chemical engine in 1873--the first
in the state. Fire hydrants eventually replaced underground cisterns throughout
the city in 1891, and a year later the City installed a steam whistle to
replace the fire bell atop the Eureka Fire House that had been used for the
previous forty years. Full maechanization began in 1913 and was completed in
1924 when the last horses were retired. In the meantime, professional
firefighters began to replace volunteers by 1888 when the first paid department
was organized and scheduled for around-the-clock service.
Scope and Content
This collection includes corrrespondence, financial and legal documents
and miscellaneous papers of the Stockton Fire Department, 1856-1887
(headquarter unit)and from five divisions: Eureka Fire Company, 1856-1905; San
Joaquin Fire Company, 1856-1887; Weber Fire Company, 1875-1886; Protection Hook
and Ladder Company, 1880-1887; and Exempt Firefighters Company, 1903-1905.