What began as the Hockinson Volunteer Fire Department shortly after World War II is now celebrating 75 years of existence.
Clark County Fire District 3 announced its milestone last week and highlighted plans to celebrate with the community through open houses next year.
“We have been providing fire and life safety services for 75 years — and we simply cannot do this important work without the support and partnership of our community,” FD3 Chief Scott Sorenson said. “Our story begins with community members coming together to volunteer time and resources to protect people and property and continues to this day through your tax dollar support. We are proud to share this birthday with you because you made it happen.”
The district’s existence began with the Hockinson Volunteer Fire Department which formed in 1947 due to a group of “farmers, store owners and truck drivers concerned about fire safety in the Hockinson community,” a release announcing the anniversary stated.
The group built the first fire apparatus for the department and the community donated fuel. Equipment was kept in barns and garages at strategic locations, the release stated.
Six years later, in 1953, the Washington State L egislature allowed for the formation of fire districts, according to the release. When Fire District 3 formed it had a budget of $2,000 a year. It provided fire and limited emergency medical service across about 80 square miles, the release stated.
The district’s first full-time fire chief, Don Breakey, was hired in 1973, the release stated, and its first full-time paid firefighter, Bill Miller, was also brought on board that year.
The district started hiring more career firefighters in the late 1970s, including current chief Sorenson in 1982, the release stated. His predecessor, Steve Wrightson, was hired as chief in 1989. Around that time the Hockinson station became the first one staffed 24 hours a day.
A 1992 bond for $3.3 million allowed for capital projects, which included equipment and engine purchases as well as construction of new stations, the release stated.
More recently, the district began serving the city of Battle Ground in 2016, which the release stated is the district’s busiest station. Four years later, voters approved a measure to annex the city into the district. Prior to that, the city had a contract for services.
The district has five stations with 57 full-time personnel and 10 volunteer emergency personnel, the release stated. It serves 45,000 people across east Clark County.
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