Fire Departments Merge

Homestead Valley Fire Department in 1950.

Homestead Valley Fire Department in 1950. > click to enlargeThe Homestead Valley Volunteer Fire Brigade was born in 1940. Ove Johnson bought an old Hudson truck which he and his friends converted into a fire truck. He housed it in his garage until a firehouse could be built. The photo on the left was taken on New Year’s Eve 1950. Volunteer firemen and guests were celebrating the completion of the firehouse. A second fire truck had been acquired.The photo on the right was likely taken in 1962 in conjunction with the merger of Homestead and Tam Valley fire districts. The fire engine on the left is a Van Pelt fire truck on an International Harvester truck chassis. The middle fire engine is the one shown in the 1950 photo. The vehicle on the right is a Studebaker pickup truck.

The January 10, 1962 issue of the Mill Valley Record ran an editorial entitled, “…on fire in Homestead” which urged Homestead and Tam Valley residents to vote for merging the two fire districts in the January 23 election. It pointed out that Tam Valley already had a staff of full-time professional fire fighters. In contrast, Homestead residents depended entirely on their volunteer organization.

Homestead Valley Fire Department in 1962.

Homestead Valley Fire Department in 1962. > click to enlarge

“The area is especially vulnerable during the daylight hours when most volunteers are away from the valley at their regular, bread-winning jobs. The volunteers are GOOD, but what can they do if they are not there. On July 21, 1961, only one 16-year old auxiliary volunteer answered the call to combat. Fortunately it turned out to be a false alarm. But it could have been catastrophic.

“Going into the final two weeks of the campaign it is indicated that Tamalpais Valley folks are all for the merger. There is no opposition. Good for them! In Homestead Valley, however, where the largest benefits will accrue, there is a small groundswell of opposition. A few individuals have ignited a small backfire to confuse the issue. This is regrettable.”

An article in the January 31, 1962 issue of the Mill Valley Record had the headline, “Fire merger Okayed by Tam, Homestead Valleys.” “Our new Fire District will be called ‘Tamalpais Fire Protection District’ and will cover Tamalpais Valley, Almonte and Homestead areas. This merger, which will become effective February 1, was the result of the election last Tuesday. Bud Owen will be Fire Chief of the district.

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