The Volunteer Fire Department

A Homestead Headlines Article by Chuck Oldenburg

February, 2007

Homestead Valley Volunteer Fire Dept. New Year's Eve Celebration, 12-31-1949. > click to enlarge

Homestead Valley Volunteer Fire Dept. New Year’s Eve Celebration, 12-31-1949.
> click to enlarge

This marvelous photo was taken on New Year’s Eve 1950. Members of the Homestead Valley Volunteer Fire Dept. and guests are celebrating the completion of the fire house on the corner of Melrose and Evergreen.

In 1940, Ove Johnson’s house at 235 LaVerne burned to the ground while County fire fighters stood by to prevent the fire from spreading – they were not authorized to fight structure fires. Ove was furious. He bought an old Hudson truck in a raffle. Five friends helped him convert it into a fire truck. The Homestead Valley Volunteer Fire Brigade was born. That’s the truck on the left. Ove is on the right standing on the running board of a newer fire truck.

For ten years, the old fire truck was kept in the Johnson’s garage. In an emergency, Ove’s wife sounded the siren on top of their house, the volunteer fire brigade members arrived and sped off in the fire truck. In 1950, Mrs. White, who owned a lumber yard, gave the firemen lumber to build the fire house and sold them the corner lot for $100. Dirt from excavating for an expansion of Homestead School was used as fill on top of the Reed Creek culvert under the site.

In 1962, paid firemen were hired for the Homestead Valley Fire Dept. to replace the volunteers. In 1989, the fire house was demolished after being severely damaged by the Loma Prieta earthquake. The site is now Volunteer Park named to honor the men in the photo and other Homestead residents who have volunteered their services to benefit the community since it was founded in 1903.


If you have comments or questions about this article or other topics
pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.