|Fire Department History
Hillsboro Fire Department, formed in 1881 by City ordinance, initially served a rural, agricultural
community of 200 people. About six volunteers used the original equipment which consisted of one hand-drawn
apparatus, four ladders, one chain hook, two pole hooks, thirty six buckets, two axes and two ropes.
The volunteers acquired the first horse drawn apparatus, a steam pumper, from Albany Fire Department in 1889.
The pumper had sailed around the Horn of South America to San Francisco where it saw its first action.
After operating for over forty years with hand-drawn or horse-drawn apparatus the Fire Department purchased
its first motorized fire engine in 1924, a Stutz pumper for $8,000.00. Initial concern focused on
whether the new engine would strain the City's water mains. The water system survived and the engine
stayed in service until 1962. It remains on display at the station in downtown Hillsboro.
Although the Fire Department was largely a volunteer department through the 1950s, the
City appointed the first Fire Chief, Walter Tews in 1928. Wilbur Dillon became the first paid fireman
in that same year. Chief Walter Tews built the "first fire truck to haul water to a fire" as one of his
first efforts as paid Fire Chief. As the City grew in population, so did the Fire Department.
In the 1970s, paid forces were increased; a three platoon, 24 hours on - 48 hours off , shift schedule of
five men each shift was implemented. Also, in the 1970s the Department entered the Emergency Medical
Services field by putting a rescue and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) into service. Besides the
downtown station that had been built in 1949, a second station was added at 25th and Parkwood in 1977.
Today the Fire Department serves a population of 90,215 with five stations strategically
placed throughout the 23.32 square miles that is Hillsboro. The equipment and apparatus reflect the "high tech"
businesses that have so dramatically increased the population of Hillsboro. Chief Greg Nelson now leads a
department that includes 78 line personnel, 12 fire prevention and training personnel, an emergency manager,
four administrative personnel, and 20 volunteers. Hillsboro Fire Department is committed to providing
excellence in all services; fire suppression, rescue, emergency medical services, fire prevention, and education.