The Daytona Beach Fire Department (DBFD) has an interesting history. Since the first big fire in 1898, several influential citizens tried to form a volunteer fire department. In 1902, the city actually owned a chemical fire engine. In 1909, the first paid fire chief was Henry T. Titus. By the end of that year, Charles Messing was the chief with about 65 volunteers. 1909 was also the year that the first water system was in place. The Water Works and the tower on Magnolia Avenue were erected. DBFD has continued to improve on the water system since that time and it has proven to be a valuable asset to the fire department.
In the beginning, the Light Plant Whistle was the alarm. The amount of blasts determined in which district the fire was. Ten years later, a bell tower was placed near the Fire Station. Today, DBFD uses a central dispatch center at the police station that receives the call from the 911 caller. They, then, telephone the proper crews through a special line at the fire station.
The first motorized equipment arrived in Daytona in 1913. In the early 30’s DBFD had 7 pieces of motorized equipment. At this time, there were 16 paid men and 3 fire stations. In addition, during the 50’s, an aerial ladder truck arrived and a 90-foot radio tower was added to the main station. Today, DBFD has 26 pieces of equipment, including 5 motorcycles.
One of the 5 fire stations mentioned was at the airport. This station was given over to the county. Then, in the 1970’s, a fire claimed a 31 year old man’s life. A train caused a delay in the firefighter’s arrival. At the time, there was only one fire station on the west side of the railroad tracks. This lead to the building of the fire station at Mason Avenue and Jimmy Ann Drive. Today, there are six fire stations covering our continually expanding Daytona Beach. Fire Station # 7 is planned for the future.
There have been a few complex changes in the status of the Fire Department. In the mid-seventies, city management implemented a cross-trained "Public Safety Department." This combined the police and fire departments into one department. This system was costly and cross training lowered morale. So, fire and police separated into their own departments.
Again in the early nineties, city officials wanted a combined public safety department. This time they did not ask for cross-trained employees. Instead, the fire department just fell under the authority of the Police Chief with a Commander of the Fire Division under him. This only lasted until 1996. Once again, DBFD is its own fire department with Chief Larry Taft in charge.
FIRE CHIEFS OVER THE YEARS
- Chief Henry T. Titus 01/1909 -
- Chief Charles Messing 1909-1912
- Chief W. E. French 1912-1919
- Chief B. B. Hart 1920-1950
- Chief Grattan B. Chapman 1950-2/19/55
- Chief Charlie Lee 2/20/55 - 10/28/56
- Chief Pete Chapman 10/29/56 - 10/8/58
- Chief W. B. Terry 10/9/58 - 2/74
- Deputy Director Frank DeBarr 2/74 - 9/79
- Chief Mike McGibney 9/79 - 10/90
- Chief Samual Roberts 10/90 - 7/92
- Commander George Sewell 7/92 - 12/92
- Commander Ian Gurney 1993 - 10/96
- Chief Paul Skinner 1996 - 2002
- Chief Lawrence W. Taft 2003