Exhibit celebrates centennial of Chula Vista’s fire department

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Photo by Albert H. Fulcher A 1923 Seagrave pumper engine now dubbed “The Goose” is on display at the South Chula Vista Library’s Chula Vista Fire Department’s centennial exhibit.

The Chula Vista Fire Department began in 1921 with 17 volunteers who were also part of a local baseball club, and now 100 years later, the CVFD has 10 fire stations providing fire protection. On Oct. 21, the CVFD had a soft grand opening of its centennial celebration at the South Chula Vista Library, 389 Orange Avenue.

This exhibit displays the fire department’s origins, early fire fighting equipment, a history of the department’s fire chiefs, and its very first fire engine, a Model T fire engine that was traded in for a 1923 Seagrave pumper engine which they now call “The Goose.” The exhibit, which is scheduled to run at least through the end of this year also contains photographs, its first contract, safety equipment, tool kits and more.

CVFD Fire Chief Harry Muns said he believed that The Goose is probably the oldest artifact of the city, dating back to 1921 and that the CVFD and it is raising money to invest in its upkeep. At the time The Goose was purchased, it had wooden wheels, and by 1924, the only paid members were its driver and the chief. Muns said its first fire fighting equipment was made from an ice cream truck to make a soda and acid cart to fight fires and was hauled by the first volunteer to reach it.

Muns presented the history of the fire department from its early beginnings, the history of its fire chiefs and their accomplishments, and the many things that led to the creation of today’s fire department. Muns said the first fire chief was Charles E. Smith, who served for 10 years and was the foundation of the organization that brought volunteers together, and that his work went beyond his tenure in Chula Vista.

Station 1 opened on Feb. 1, 1948, with Station 10 in Millenia recently joining the ranks of the CVFD. Currently, the CVFD’s 10 fire stations serve a population of more than 276,000 and covers more than 52 square miles There are 48 firefighters on duty with an additional two firefighters per SQUAD unit during the day and ambulance transport staff with 10 paramedics and 10 EMTs.

Mayor Mary Casillas Salas said the exhibit shows how the history evolved from a handful of volunteers to the state of the art fire department that serves the city now. She said now, with the locations of the fire stations, the CVFD can respond to serve the community efficiently.

“And, you know, our firefighters do more than put out fires. They save lives and we saw that during the pandemic, when they really stepped up to the plate where they became first responders and went out to communities to those who could not get their vaccines. They really went above and beyond in their service to the.,” she said. “So, I expect that the second hundred years, the next hundred years of this fire department that we will continue to see that wonderful service to our community.”

A limited amount of Centennial Challenge Coins is available for purchase for $15 per coin at CVFD Fire Administration, 276 Fourth Avenue, Building C.
Centennial CVFD apparel is available for sale Next Day Printed Tees and all proceeds to towards the 1923 Seagrave Engine, “The Gosse” via the CVFD Heritage Foundation, including centennial t-shirts, hoodies, beanies, ballcaps, polo shirts, and special “To Old to Goose” editions at http://design.nextdayprintedtees.com/CVFD100/shop/home.

For a virtual tour of the History of the Chula Vista Fire Department visit: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/a8558cb53d084e8698321bf5c4050c0a

Exhibit celebrates centennial of Chula Vista’s fire department