History

Volunteer Fire Department Established- 1901

The Fort Myers Fire Department was formed in May 1901, following a series of large fires in the downtown area. The day after it was formed, the new volunteer fire department responded to its 1st structure fire. Battling a house fire with hand-conveyed buckets, the firefighters were unable to save the home, however, they prevented the spread of fire to other buildings. Realizing that bucket-brigades were no match for large fires, the department bought its 1st fire engine, a used button-hand pumper in August 1901.

Early Historical Fires- 1905-1915

By 1905, City Council was paying the volunteer fire department $10 for each fire extinguished and had purchased a new hand drawn fire engine with a 12-horsepower gasoline fire pump. The engine was put to its first real test in 1914, as the Lee County Packing House and the steam ship Thomas A. Edison were destroyed by fire. In June, a side-wheel steamer, a large warehouse, and a pier were destroyed. Later that year, 2 hotels and 6 other buildings were destroyed by a wind-driven fire. This series of fires alarmed the City Council who quickly voted to purchase the city’s first motor driven fire engine.

Full-Time Fire Department Hired- 1920

On September 13, 1920, the city appointed its first paid fire chief and authorized him to hire 6 full-time firefighters, at the monthly wage of $10 per month. In 1922, the city installed a Gamewell Fire Alarm System and placed 20 call boxes around the city.

Fire Department Notable Events

Chief William Anderson served on the committee to organize the State Fire College at the time.  He taught throughout the state on the importance of education.  In 1972, the city was tasked by the state to start a pilot program that would eventually mold the Fort Myers Fire Academy. 

Past Fire Chiefs

1901 C.F. Roberts

1903 C.F. Cates

1907 O.L. Johns

1911 H.A. Laycock

1915 F.M. Lanier

1916 Charles A. Maywald

1917 C.A. Powell

1918 G.B. Reynolds

1919 C.A. Powell

1920 W.C. Bigelow

1920 Corley B. Bryant

1927 William W. Anderson

1950 Robert Bass

1966 Floyd A. Shellabarger

1970 Roderick W. Anderson

1975 William H. McWhorter

1981 Jack Kaune

1988 William Conrod

1995 Richard Chappelle

2006 Kenneth D. Dobson

2014 Trenton Bowen

2017 John D. Caufield

2019 Tracy McMillion (Current)