History of the Oviedo Fire Department
"Your Hometown Fire Department""
"Service with Honor" "Service with Respect" "Service with Excellence"
In 1914, with a population of 488, the Hotel Oviedo Fire was the first recorded fire for the Oviedo community resulting in a loss of six downtown buildings leaving only one building standing followed by two years of reconstruction. Farmers, store owners, and town people fought the fire in vain with buckets as their only firefighting equipment.
In 1921, with a population of 685, the home of B.G. Smith would catch fire and spread to the Cushing House, a former hotel resulting in a total loss once again. A Chemical Fire Engine from Sanford assisted in the fire fight. The town began alerting citizens to fire emergencies by ringing the church bells and firing gun shots. Oviedo would achieve official incorporated status in 1925, thus becomming an official city!
In 1928, the population reached 809 when another landmark fire occurred destroying the Brewster House on Lake Charm on a windy March day. The three-story home had twenty-seven rooms and dwarfed other nearby homes.
The Beginning of the Hometown Fire Department
In 1946, with a population reaching 1,119, the Wheeler Fertlizer Plant would sustain a devastating fire in which the Winter Park Fire Department would provide aid although the building was completely destroyed. This fire would prompt the town leaders to begin the first true Hometown Volunteer Fire Department with the purchase of the towns first Fire Pumper, temporary stored in a citizens barn in the downtown. W.A. Ward Sr., and C.R.Clonts Jr., became the first recorded Fire Chief & Fire Marshal. In 1950, the first Fire Station was erected after successful fund raising efforts. The Fire Station included a Outdoor Siren used to alert the Volunteer Firefighters to a fire emergency. In 1955, the Saw Mill caught fire and the Volunteer Firefighters prevented the spread of fire to nearby buildings.
In 1960, the population climbed to 1,926, when Hurricane Donna would ravage the state including the Oviedo community. The Volunteer Firefighters would assist with cleanup among the citizens. In 1961, a fire engulfed the Lake Charm Fruit Company and the Volunteer Firefighters would prevent the fire from spreading to other nearby buildings. In 1962, a Naval A3D Skywarrior Airplane based at the Sanford Naval Air Station would crash in the Oviedo area narrowly missing a school ground full of children. The pilot was credited with navagating the airplane away from the school ground, defying orders to eject, and subsequently claiming three of the four crew members lives. The Volunteer Fire Department responded to the tragedy.
In 1974, the newly purchased Rescue Van was stolen and set on fire completely destroying the van. The person responsible was immediately arrested and convicted for the crime however the loss impacted the Rescue service until a fund raising campaign was completed and a new van purchased.
In 1975, the first Class "A" Fire Pumper was purchased which was a CF Mack. Volunteer Fire Chiefs during this time frame included Kelly Fore, Charlie Beasley, and Vernon Bovaird. The Volunteer Fire Department would secure one of the first "Jaws of Life" extrication tools utilized to remove victims from a car crash. In the 1970's, the Volunteer Siren Alerting System fell silent with alerting switched to special telephones at each members home and large pagers assigned to officers.
In 1978, the Volunteer Fire Department battled a fire at the town's only supermarket Meatworld. The building was saved however the contents were rendered unusable. The smoke was so thick that during the firefight that crews could not see their hand in front of their face according to Fire Chief Andy McDaniel. In 1978, a fire destroyed the two story Smoke House on West Broadway.
The Growing Years
In 1981, under the leadership of Andy McDaniel, the department would hire the first full time Firefighter assigned to work 8 am to 5 pm, Monday thru Friday, with the Volunteer Firefighters remaining a major force. In 1983, the department would grow again by adding 24 hour staff supplemented still by the Volunteer Firefighters. The department also provided emergency medical service with state certified Emergency Medical Technician certifications.
In 1986, three additional Firefighters were added to the force bringing the shift manning to two Firefighter-Emergency Medical Technicians. Soon thereafter, the department began the delivery of Advanced Life Support with the addition of Paramedics. In 1990, the population reached 11,114 and the second Fire Station was opened on Alexandria Blvd at the City Hall complex. The new building included Police and Fire quarters. Support staff would be added including a Fire Marshal followed by a Training/EMS Captain, and additional Firefighters.
In 1994, Wayne Martin became the next Fire Chief and led the department to an ISO Class 2 Rating, resulting in fire insurance premium savings to commercial and residential occupancies. The Volunteer Fire Department concluded as the full time professional department continued to expand primarily due to community growth. in 1996, the original Fire Station was renovated and in 1998, the Hometown Department would assist throughout the state in the worst wild fire season in Florida history.
More continued in History of Oviedo Fire Dept Part II
Visit the Oviedo Historical Society for a complete history on the Oviedo community. Oviedo Biography of a Town, by Richard Adicks & Donna Neely is available for purchase from: