CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Corpus Christi Fire Department celebrated its 150th anniversary of protecting life, property, and the assets of the City of Corpus Christi on Sunday afternoon.
"When the fire department began in 1871, as the city grew so did the fire department. When we first started, it was basically to make sure the city was safe from fires and there was a response if there ever was a fire," CCFD Fire Chief Robert Rocha said.
The CCFD began as a volunteer firemen association, the Pioneer Fire Company No.1, organized on Nov. 28th, 1871. In 1873, the city’s second fire company, the Lone Star Hook and Ladder Company, was officially organized.
The two companies would later merge to become the CCFD on July 11, 1874.
Over 150 years, the CCFD has significantly advanced its operations since the early days of the horse-drawn fire apparatus. Last year, the fire department responded to over 53,000 calls for service. The CCFD is one of the only departments in the state of Texas that provides fire and paramedic training to every cadet.
"The 150 years that we've evolved, basically, we still end up doing things the same way that we did before in terms of suppression of fire,” CCFD Fire Chief Robert Rocha said. “However, with the training we have, the expertise we have, the experience we have, we're able to do that very dangerous job in a much safer manner."
As Rocha enters his 10th year in charge, he's seen the need for his firefighters to be prepared for everything.
"The thing that I have strived for is making sure that our firefighters are trained for whatever element that they face," Rocha said. "Whether it's fire, emergency medical call, hazardous material call, a rescue."
Over the past decade, the Fire Department has included hazardous material incident and technical rescue response, natural disaster preparedness, and even partnered with the Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health Department for COVID-19 response in administering vaccines.
"With the pandemic, you wouldn't think that firefighters could play a critical role," Rocha said. "But because we're uniquely situated to have firefighter paramedics working, we're able to address some of those challenges. Take the vaccine, take it to our residents, and make sure that they are safe."
This year marks the first time in recent history that CCFD is fully staffed, with 435 uniformed and civilian personnel throughout the department.
What started as a team of 20 when the pioneer fire company began in 1871 is now well over 400. Fighting fires is just as dangerous as it was 150 years ago, but the CCFD is ready for the challenge now, more than ever.
For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.
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