October 30, 1876 the Council passed an Ordinance creating the paid fire department. J. C. Gerdes was elected Chief Engineer. The department consisted of the following companies: Empire Engine No. 1; Torrent Engine No. 2; and Hook and Ladder No. 1. The combined pay for members of the department was $509. per month, the Driver of Hook and Ladder No. 1 receiving the most – $100. a month. Annual operating expenses for the entire department were less than $8,000.
In June of 1877 a fire alarm telegraph system was installed in the city. This fire alarm system, with improvements over time, was in use for more than 100 years, and provided the community electronic access to the alarm room via fire alarm pull boxes.
The last horse drawn steam engine was purchased January 21, 1908 . The first motorized engine was purchased November 23, 1914 . The last horse drawn aerial ladder truck was purchased March 3, 1908 and was later converted to a motorized aerial.