Glendale’s history is as rich as the soil that attracted so many families to the area in the late 1800s. Farms and orchards began to take root and commercial business grew – attracting more and more folks to the West Valley after the turn of the 20th century. With a boom in construction, business and farming, it became apparent to citizens that fire protection was quickly becoming a priority.
Our fire department began in 1912 – the same year Arizona celebrated its statehood. The all-volunteer department served the growing community through the Great Depression and the start of World War II – which brought the birth of Thunderbird Field to train civilian pilots for the Army. While this field was being built in 1941, the Army was busy working on a larger base 10 miles west of Glendale. Luke Field (now Luke Air Force Base) was named for the first pilot to receive a Medal of Honor, Lt. Frank Luke Jr.
The city hired its first fulltime paid fire chief in the 1950’s. A decade later, Glendale was able to show the need to employ its first fulltime paid firefighters. The 1990’s and new millennium brought the Loop 101, Arizona State University’s west campus, Jobing.com Arena and the University of Phoenix Stadium – and with those additions also came the need for the Glendale Fire Department to expand its personnel and its areas of expertise.
The Glendale Firefighters of years ago may have never envisioned our city having the needs it does today and the department having 240 firefighters, nine fire stations and responding to approximately 40,000 calls a year–in addition to being a fully accredited department. An innovative intergovernmental agreement called Automatic Aid allows us to provide a high level of service at one of the lowest cost per citizen ratios in the nation. Even with all the changes, our core mission remains the same: Fast. Caring. Innovative. Professional.