Morgan Hill, California

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Morgan Hill Fire Department History
old morgan hill fire patch


The Morgan Hill Fire Department was established on 17 January 1907; in June a hose cart was purchased. In November of 1908 a 36" fire bell was ordered for a cost of $70.81; in February 1914 the use of this bell to signal curfews was discontinued due to firefighters mistaking its ringing for a fire alarm. On 15 May 1917 a combination chemical truck was purchased. This truck was eventually sold to the Burbank Fire District for $1000 on 22 June 1926. On 1 December 1920 the town purchased a Ford La France Type E combination chemical fire truck for the sum of $1420. In 1926 the town passed a resolution that prohibited the city's fire trucks from leaving the city limits.

A truck alarm system was installed in 1967. Dispatching via Santa Clara County Communications was established in 1968. Dispatching was changed to via CDF from 1970 until 1993. The El Toro fire station was constructed in 1975, and the Dunne Hill station in 1978.

Morgan Hill's Chiefs:
1907 Henry Velt
1909 George F. Boutell
1915 A.E. Buchheister
1920 William Rice
1926 William Buchheister
1930 Jay Robertson
1934 Lloyd W. Skeels
1936 Ted Rizer
1938 Lee Rosa
1941 Adrian O'Connell
1946 Lee Rosa
1965 Manuel Solis
1967 Bert Embree
1972 Bill Lane
1974 Brad Spencer

1926 seagrave
1926 sea grave            mh_26seagrave_3_sm.jpg
seagrave            seagrave

top photo: Santa Clara County Fire Dept Archive
all others: Wayne Sorenson Collection
Five shots of Morgan Hill's 1926 Seagrave Model 6-B Suburbanite, with a 500gpm (1895 l/m) pump and a 90 gallon(340 l) tank. The first shot is the factory delivery photo, 1926. Delivery number 43659. The second and third are pre-restoration; the last two post-restoration. This engine was retired from fire duty in 1957, and used by the Public Works Department as a water tanker, eventually left to rot on an old sewer farm. It was restored by volunteer firefighters at the Live Oak High School.

Old fire station Morgan Hill fire house
both: Santa Clara County Fire Dept Archive
Former fire station, in service from 1930-1974, located at the corner of West Main Avenue and Monterey Street. It was demolished 9 January 1975. This building also housed, simultaneously, Public Works, California Department of Forestry (CDF) from 1938-1953, City Hall, and the Morgan Hill Rural Fire District. Left photo from a 1975 newspaper article. Right photo October 1969.

first aid truck
Santa Clara County Fire Dept Archive
First aid truck, 1940s. This Ford carried a stretcher and resuscitator. Chief Lee Rosa on left.

personnel lineup 1946-7
Santa Clara County Fire Dept Archive
Department personnel lineup, 1946-7, in front of 1946 Dodge/Van Pelt. Chief Lee Rosa is in white hat, front row second from right. The man in the suit is currently unidentified.

mh_47dodge
Wayne Sorenson Collection
Morgan Hill's 1946 Dodge/Van Pelt, now painted yellow, with a 500gpm (1895 l/m) pump and an 1100 gallon (4170 l) tank.

personnel lineup 1948
Santa Clara County Fire Dept Archive
Informal photo of department personnel, 1948. Chief Lee Rosa at left with uniform hat.

mh_49reo
Wayne Sorenson Collection
This Morgan Hill 1949 Reo is an ex-CDF brush rig. It had a 250gpm (950 l/m) pump.

mh_56dodge_1 mh_56dodge_2
Wayne Sorenson Collection
Two views of 1956 Dodge/Van Pelt parked in front of the Morgan Hill fire house. It had a 750gpm 2840 l/m) pump and carried 200 gallons (760 l) of water.

personnel lineup 1958
Santa Clara County Fire Dept Archive
Department personnel lineup, 1958, in front of 1956 Dodge/Van Pelt. Chief Lee Rosa is front row, fourth from left.

mh_64gmc_color
photo: Chuck Madderom
mh_64gmc_1 mh_64gmc_2 mh_64gmce133_1 mh_64gmce133_2
Wayne Sorenson Collection
Morgan Hill had this 1964 GMC/Van Pelt engine, with a 1000gpm (3790 l/m) pump and a 300 gallon (1135 l) tank. Painted red, and without a roof, it ran as engine 1. Later, repainted yellow and with a cab roof installed, it ran as engine 133. Two views of it in each livery are shown here.

engine 23 engine 23 engine 23
all: Santa Clara County Fire Dept Archive
Three shots of engine 133 at a volunteer drill. Photo circa 1975.

live fire drill 1965
Santa Clara County Fire Dept Archive
Live fire drill. This house was on the site of what is now the Live Oak High School on East Main Avenue. Photo November 1965.

Scott Airpack
Santa Clara County Fire Dept Archive
Firefighter Jim Xavier in a Scott airpack, October 1969. Morgan Hill later switched to Survivair.

Smokey the Bear
Santa Clara County Fire Dept Archive
Smokey the Bear posing in front of pickup 130, a Chevrolet 10, circa 1970.

ambulance
Santa Clara County Fire Dept Archive
Prior to the fire department providing emergency medical services, patient/victim transport was provided by Stephens & Poletti, Inc. ambulance service. (Stephens is shown on left.) Unlike modern EMS transport, this service was primarily "scoop and go", transporting the patient with little additional medical care. Their vehicle is a Chevrolet 8/400. Photo circa early 1970s.

1971 American LaFrance 1971 American LaFrance 1971 American LaFrance mh_72alf
first three: Santa Clara County Fire Dept Archive
last: Wayne Sorenson Collection
Three shots of Morgan Hill's 1971 American LaFrance Pioneer. Costing $43,000 when purchased in May 1973, it had a 1250gpm (4740 l/m) pump and a 500 gallon (1895 l) tank.

Anderson fire station Anderson fire station
both: Santa Clara County Fire Dept Archive
Two photos of the Anderson fire station, 1974. Located at Holiday Lake at the end of Park View Drive (map location approximate), next to the golf club clubhouse, this unstaffed station provided coverage from around 1973 to 1982. In the left photo, visible are a 1957 Dodge/Van Pelt (yellow) in front of a 1958 GMC. The GMC was an ex-Forestry department rig before serving Morgan Hill. The Dodge cost $15,000 and pumped 750 gpm (2840 l/m).

El Toro fire station 

The then-new El Toro Station, 1974. Note the lack of the office prefabricated building, added later. Pickup 130, the Chevrolet 10, now with the severely dented hood, is parked in front.

personnel lineup 1974 

Department personnel lineup, 1974, in front of 1971 American LaFrance Pioneer. Chief Brad Spencer in the white shirt, top row third from right.

mh_79alf
Wayne Sorenson Collection
This is Morgan Hill's 1979 American LaFrance Century. It had a 1500gpm (56850 l/m) pump, a 500 gallon (1895 l) tank, and a Detriot GV-92 engine.

apparatus lineup 1979-80       mh_3_engines.jpg

Left photo: El Toro Station and apparatus lineup, circa 1979-80. From left to right: Engine 11, paramedic 311, Engine 22, and Engine 21. Right photo: From left to right: Engines 11, 21 and 12. Engine 21, a 1988 Pierce, became Reserve Engine 112 after the merger. Engine 12 was a 1971 American LaFrance Pioneer, with a 1500 gpm (5685 l/m) pump and a 500 gal (1895 l) tank. It was sold prior to merger.

mh_80ford
Wayne Sorenson Collection
This 1980 Ford Econoline 250 Custom was run by the County of Santa Clara Emergency Medical Services out of Morgan Hill as Paramedic unit 311.

mh_e11.jpg
Santa Clara County Fire Dept Archives
Engine 11, a 1988 Pierce, served Morgan Hill with a 1500gpm (5685 l/m) pump and a 500 gal (1895 l) tank. It became Engine 12 after the merger.

mh_e13.jpg           mh_e13_gm.jpg
both: Santa Clara County Fire Dept Archive
Two views of Morgan Hill Engine 13, a 1981 Chevrolet/E-One. It had a 350gpm (1325 l/m) pump, a 500 gal (1895 l) tank, and was sold during the merger.

patrol_11.jpg                 Patrol 11

Morgan Hill's Patrol 11, a 1988 Ford, which later became Patrol 12. In the right photo, Patrol 11 is shown in front of what appears to be a CDF (California Department of Forestry) engine. Photo circa late 1980s.

gas main fire 

Patrol PT21 (later Patrol P13), at the scene of a gas main break and fire on Dunne Avenue, circa late 1980s. Due to the risk of explosion from unburned gas, it is safer to let these types of fires burn until the gas can be shut off at a main valve. The crew of Patrol 21 is standing by, monitoring the situation. The main was apparently broken during construction activity.

station 12
Built in 1975, the El Toro station is located at 18300 Old Monterey Rd, Morgan Hill, this station was used by County Fire from 1993-2012 to cover the city of Morgan Hill. El Toro Station is named after the nearby mountain peak with the same name.

station 13
Built in 1978, the Dunne Hill station is located at 2100 E. Dunne Av, at the corner of Hill Rd, in Morgan Hill. The station was used by County Fire from 1993-2012 to cover the city of Morgan Hill.