Prior to 1946, fire protection in Keller depended on neighbors using water hoses and buckets, and on other surrounding small towns that had established fire departments. In 1946, a fire occurred in a mechanic shop located on Vine Street near Main Street, which was owned by Alfred Lee Pipkin. The City of Keller was not incorporated at that time, so local business owners and community leaders stepped up and lead a drive to start the Keller Fire Department. M.B. Stephenson, who would later be the department’s first fire chief, had fliers printed and helped organize a pie supper which was held at the Rock Gym. Through their efforts, $501 was raised and, along with other donations, they were able to start the fire department.
The Keller Fire Department consisted of Junior and Senior members; Junior members were boys in high school while Senior members were men from the community such as farmers or local business owners. The Junior members were needed during the day because a number of Senior members could not leave their work. In fact, when a fire was reported during the school year, the high school would receive a call from the fire department and the boys were allowed to leave school and respond to the call. This system was in place until the late 1970s. Some early members of the Keller Fire Department were J.C. Samsill, Charley Wilkinson, W.L. Blevins, Roy Thorton, Hugh White, Billy Mac Blevins, Joe Knox, A.B. Harmonson, O.L. Marcum, Archie Smith, Willis Berry, Alfred Lee Pipkin, Gaines Blevins and M.B. Stephenson.
Fundraising was an important part of the fire department in the early days, and a weekly rodeo was organized by the fire department and the Keller Lions Club in the 1950s to assist with fundraising efforts. The Dal Worth District Fair Rodeo, or Keller Rodeo as it was often called, was one of the largest rodeos in the area. The rodeo grounds were located at the current location of the Keller Lions Club at the intersection of Keller Parkway and Cindy Street.
The First Fire Truck
The city's first fire truck was a 1935 Ford with a 350-gallon tank purchased in 1946. The second fire truck was a 1946 Ford Army surplus truck purchased in 1948.
In about 1947, fire hydrants were purchased and installed by C.G. Johnson, owner of the Keller Water Works and Keller Grain Elevator. Recognizing a need and a community without extra funds available, he provided them at no cost to the fire department or citizens.
The first fire hall was located on Lamar Street at Hill Street. The small, wood-framed building was used for meetings and the fire trucks were stored in shops nearby. That hall was used until 1963, when a new two-bay fire hall was built by the members on Main Street. The old fire hall was used by the Boy Scouts for the next 25 years or so.
In 1983, Fire Station 1 was built on Price Street (now Keller Parkway) next to the Rural Water building. The station itself consisted of four truck bays with personnel using the Rural Water building as an office and training room. Fire Station 1 was closed in 1994 when Fire Stations 2 and 3 were built. A third station, Fire Station 4, was added in 2009. In 2004, Fire Administration staff moved into the old fire hall on Main Street.
An volunteer-staffed ambulance was added to the Keller Fire Department in 1976, funded by donations and money raised by the ladies auxiliary from the sale of fireworks. The Keller Fire Department ran the ambulance with volunteers until 1983, when it was turned over to a private service. Due to increased demand within the community, the Keller Fire Department began providing ambulance service with a paid staff in 1988. A second ambulance was added in 2000.
As the city grew in the early 1980s, the need for a full-time, paid department was recognized. Keller's first career firefighters worked during the day, while the volunteers covered nights and weekends. Increased demand within the community led the department to begin 24-hour shift staffing in 1987 with a handful of career staff. The fire department remained a combination career/volunteer department until 2000. Since that time, the fire department has continued to grow to meet the needs of the City of Keller.
Past Department Chiefs
Dan Gaumont, 2009–2012
Kelly King, 1991–2008
Chuck Blankenship, 1989–1990
Mike Stephens, 1983–1988
Tom (Pops) Hixson, 1980–1983
Garland Robertson, 1979–1980
Johnny Cephus, 1975–1979
Q. Marcum, 1973–1974
Charles Elrod, 1970–1972
Donald Morris, 1966–1970
Bill May, 1963–1965
Micky Hampton, 1962–1963
M.B. Stephenson, 1951–1962
Roy Thorton, Unknown
Charley Wilkinson, Unknown
D.W. Tullous, 1947
M.B. Stephenson, 1946
Keller Fire Rescue is committed to Providing Professional Emergency Services with Pride through Preparation, Prevention and Education, to assure a Safe and Quality environment for our Community.
Community • Pride • Service • Preparation • Prevention • Education