Letter From The Chief

Welcome to the Fairbanks Fire Department

The first Fire Department in Fairbanks was a volunteer department organized during the summer of 1903 under the direction of fire Chief Dan Noinan. The department’s equipment consisted of a few buckets, ladders, fire axes, and holes in the slough, which was used for needed water. The City Council took over the Fire Department in November 1904, electing J. J. Buckley, a City Patrolman, as its first Fire Chief.

The first fire station, built in 1905, was on Second Avenue between Turner and Barnette Street and was later moved to Turner Street between Second and Third Avenue. In the fall of 1905, the City Council decided to build a new fire hall on Third Avenue opposite Turner Street. A concrete Fire Station was later built at Fifth and Cushman followed by the station at 656 Seventh Avenue in 1962. The citizens of Fairbanks approved a new Fire Station during the October 2003 City election, to provide a new station at Eleventh and Cushman Street. The new station provided much needed support for the more versatile, but larger, heavier vehicles that are used in the fire service today.

In 1905 the Fire chief was paid $200 per month, and the only other two employees receiving only $150 per month. The volunteer members were furnished room and board and received $1 per hour for their response at fires. The Department became fully paid in 1907 with J. J. Buckley as Fire Chief with five other Fire Fighters.

From April 1, 1909, through March of 1910, there were 65 fires, entailing a loss of $5,486 inn Fairbanks and an additional loss of $15,025 in the Garden Island area. These fires required the laying of 44,150 feet of fire hose that year. The previous year had 59 alarms with a total fire loss of $6,281, which resulted in the laying of 34,500 feet of hose.

Today the Fairbanks Fire Department is fully paid with a staff of 44 full time employees. The workforce is divided into three shifts and work a “48 on, 96 off” schedule. Each shift has a Battalion Chief, three Captains, four Drivers, and five Fire fighters. The Department also has an Assistant Fire Chief, a Deputy Fire Marshal, an Administrative Assistant, and a Clerk / Coordinator of the Fairbanks Emergency Planning Committee (FEPC).

The Department has two fire engines, one 102-foot platform, a 100-foot platform, a heavy rescue engine, four ambulances, incident command vehicle, heat trailer, light trailer, and two water tenders. There are two staffed fire stations and another unstaffed station located next to the City-operated Regional Fire Training Center on Thirtieth Avenue.

The Department runs a paramedic level transport ambulance service. Nineteen fire fighters are certified as paramedics. All Fairbanks fire fighters are certified to a minimum of Alaska certified Emergency Medical Technician one.

Fairbanks Fire department personnel are trained and certified in emergency cold-water rescue, confined space rescue, and hazardous material response at the operations level. Many individuals in the department are certified in specialized areas to help with the training in others.

The City of Fairbanks has a protected population served of 32,469 citizens. The temperature in Fairbanks ranges from 90 degrees above zero in the summer to 60 degrees below zero in the winter. The amount of daylight ranges from 21 hours, 49 minutes in the summer to 3 hours, 42 minutes in the winter. These temperature and daylight extremes can make fire fighting quite a challenge.

In 2016 the City of Fairbanks responded to 4,965 emergency requests for assistance. This is an increase of 17.6 percent over 2015.

The Fairbanks Fire Department’s response area is 13.1 square miles, with an asset valuation of $2,620,877,920, and includes the Chena River, Pioneer Park (Alaska Land), the Carlson Center, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and many other important landmarks. Fairbanks Fire Department provides mutual aid support for ten surrounding fire departments including Fort Wainwright Army Base and Eielson Air Force Base.

Jim Styers

Fire Chief