Saying goodbye to Station No. 1
Appeal Staff Writer
Barring a few desks and a few chairs, the cavernous concrete and brick building that for 40 years housed the bodies and antics of Carson City firefighters is now empty in the physical sense, but it remains filled with memories for dozens of firefighters of the past and present who gathered Thursday to say goodbye to the old Station No. 1.
The old fire house on the southeast corner of West Musser and Curry streets is slated for demolition this fall after having become a storage space for Nevada’s Attorney General over the past few years. The Attorney General’s office hosted a going away barbecue for it Thursday, so the old guard might have one last visit.
“We had a lot of fun, fought a lot of fires from here,” said Kani Shannon, a 33-year veteran firefighter and unofficial historian of Carson City firefighting. “You lived a third of your life in here.”
The old Carson City Fire Station No. 1 was built in 1954 for the Warren Engine Co., an all-volunteer organization that began in 1863 and still operates today.
It became obsolete, and vacant, in 1994 when the new Carson City Fire Station No. 1 on South Stewart Street opened to the delight of professional firefighters.
The old station originally had no sleeping quarters or a kitchen. In fact, it didn’t have much else other than space to park fire trucks. Volunteers finished the rest, “on their own dime,” Shannon said.
Still, it served its purpose well, said Les Groth, 81, who served as the last fire chief of the Warren Engine Co. and the first chief of the Carson City Fire Department, when it came into existence and took over Station No. 1 in 1959.
“Traffic wasn’t like it is today. You could get to all locations in about the same time,” said Les’ younger brother George, 77, who was assistant chief of the Warren Engine Co. while Les headed up the city department – head of the Carson City Fire Department was fire chief, head of the Warren Engine Co. was an assistant chief, he said.
Before the building was erected with $72,500 generated by donations, fund-raisers and bonds that Shannon said weren’t “worth the paper they’re printed on,” the Warren Engine Co. was housed directly across the street in what is now the Secretary of State’s office.
After the station opened, the old office became a hardware store with a healthy stockpile of windows in the exact two sizes used in the fire station, “because if firemen can do anything they can break windows,” Shannon said.
Most of the breakage had to do with diversions for the men who couldn’t leave during shifts of 24 straight hours – baseball was a favorite.
“It was great. It was just a big family,” Shannon said.
Despite the wishes of longtime firefighters, that family home will likely be reduced to rubble this fall.
The state bought the building in the mid-1990s along with the old Ormsby County Courthouse for a total of $715,000. The fire station, which the state says needs too much costly work to be turned into anything more useful, is slated to become a parking lot at first. In a few years, a spokeswoman for the AG’s office said, more offices will likely be built there.
Although the building will be gone, many remnants of the old days of fighting fire in Carson City have been preserved and are on display at the Warren Engine Co. Museum in the city’s new Station No. 1 at 777 S. Stewart St.
n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.