Back in 1917, Bill Boeing wrote the City of Seattle water department in request for fire hydrants. "The work conducted therein consists largely of wood working, linen work, enameling, etc; we also use large quantities of varnish, paint, dope (varnish for wing coverings), all of which are highly flammable materials. We are situated at a considerable distance from the nearest fire station, and are naturally desirous of protecting our plant in every way possible."
Until 1940, fire services were provided by growing local municipalities. That was the year a small group of employees volunteered to be firefighters and began providing some services at Boeing sites in Seattle and Wichita. It wasn’t until 1943 when Boeing began hiring retired firefighters as paid staff, that the Boeing Fire Department was fully established. At that time, Seattle and Wichita were producing a high number of B-17s, B-29s and other aircraft for use in World War II.
Today, the department has grown to become one the largest private fire departments in the United States, with a strong emphasis on fire prevention. In addition to preventing fires, the department provides emergency medical services, structural fire response, aircraft rescue and firefighting, hazardous material response and confined space rescue.
“The Boeing Fire Department protects the people and assets of the Boeing Company. If you think of Boeing sites as free-standing, moderately-sized cities spread all over the U.S. housing thousands or tens of thousands of people, you begin to understand the size and scope of the services that are needed,” said Boeing Fire Chief Michael Mauvais. “Then, you add to it the complex and important work that is being conducted at our sites, building airplanes and defense systems; you begin to realize the importance of having a strong fire prevention and emergency response capability.”