"Building a future on the foundation of the past" cont...
In 1943, Boeing installed its first paid fire department personnel, hiring retired professional firefighters while continuing to rely on employee volunteers. But it wasn't long before the company discontinued the use of volunteer's altogether.
Despite the switch to professional firefighters, the company still relied on guards for fire protection. Guards were required to know a lot about fire protection and emergency operations. Part of their duties included checking all the sprinkler control valves daily. There were so many valves that it would take all day to check them. But, when the alarms sounded and the fire trucks rolled, the guard force came running.
As airplane bombers and fuel tanks grew, the fire department expanded accordingly in Seattle, Moses Lake and Wichita. Leading the way in the early 1950's was production of the B-52, which was such a major undertaking that it changed the way Boeing approached fire protection forever.
Moses Lake, a strategic Air Command site, was busy to the extent that Boeing operations-which consisted of testing and delivering B-47's, B-52's and KC-135's-led to the expansion of the fire department. It grew to consist of four crash rescue Air Force firefighting trucks and approximately 40 firefighters and officers. Firefighters protected the plant three shifts a day, seven days a week until 1959. About 1962, Boeing operations in Moses Lake significantly reduced and firefighters transferred to Seattle or Wichita. There hasn't been a full-time Boeing fire department in Moses Lake since
It was also in the 1950's that Boeing purchased its first brand new fire trucks, the Boeing Queens, made by American LaFrance Foamlite Corp. These new trucks were the pride and joy of the department and replaced the Air Forces old '0-10' and '0-11A' crash rescue firefighting rigs. The 'Queens' were unique in that they were considered to be both a structural and a crash rescue firefighting vehicle, and they became a national model that other truck manufacturers copied.
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This page was updated on 02/02/2003.
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