From the beginning Cheyenne, like many other towns along the newly constructed Union Pacific Railroad had problems with fires. The primarily wood and wood shingle buildings that made up the downtown area were especially subject to fire created by passing coal burning locomotives, wood and coal burning stoves and heaters, kerosene lanterns used for light, and smokers. It is said that the worst fire occurred in 1873 and consumed two thirds of the downtown before it was extinguished. This major fire caused two things to happen: 1) buildings began to be constructed from stone and brick and 2) the City became home to several private fire companies.
There would be four separate fire companies by 1890, the year of Wyoming Statehood. Three were located in downtown Cheyenne while the fourth was located in Cheyenne's south side where it could respond quickly without having to cross the railroad yard with its many setts of tracks and its massive array of machine, repair and storage shops.
Located in what was known as Cheyenne's Old City Hall, on the south side of the 400 block of west 17th Street, the Durant Steam Fire Company,
organized in 1874, was often mentioned as being "quick to call." This building also served as City Hall until 1917 when a new City and County building was built.
Each of the four companies had drills
during which two-wheeled horse carts were pulled through the streets by teams of men working like horses. Each company later had horse-drawn wagons that provided pressurized water, carried long ladders and extra hoses to fires. The Chief's buggies and the horse-drawn wagons and their associated equipment were eventually replaced by motorized trucks and cars.
Cheyenne's Fire Companies*
The Albert Hose Company
(1877) was located at 1713 Capitol Avenue between 17th and 18th Streets and occupied a new brick two story firehouses in 1890. The Company's motto: "We Strive to Save" was inscribed above the second story window. The building was torn down in 1960.
The Pioneer Hook & Ladder Company's
Headquarters Building (1888), located at 1712 Pioneer Avenue (originally Eddy Street), is the only building of the four companies still standing. It was located just around the corner for the Durant Steam Fire Company.
Clark Hose Company
(1888) was located on the corner of 11th Street and Warren Avenue. The building was torn down with the expansion of the UPRR yards in the early 1920s. The stone sign of for the Clark Fire House was removed and is now located at the City Fire Station located at 514 West Fox Farm Road, and the bell from its tower is located behind the historic Johnson Junior High School and in front of the Swimming
Pool at House Avenue and 8th Street.
* All of the fires companies were replaced by the Cheyenne Fire Department in May 1909. The Department celebrated its Centennial in 2009. In the beginning the Department had two paid companies and by 1912 Company No. 1 had a Chief and 14 men, 2 horses, a hose wagon and 2000 feet of 2 1/2 inch hose. Company No. 2 had a Chief, 10 men, Chief's buggy, one 65' Aerial Truck fully equipped, one Seagraves combination Hose and Chemical Wagon, one hose wagon in reserve and 5,000 feet of 2 1/2" cotton hose. They also boasted having six horses. Cheyenne was also listed as having 133 double and 27 triple hydrants, a pumping plant and 100 lbs per square inch water pressure.