On July 21st, 1980, Boise’s Fire Station No. 1 was relocated to 707 Reserve Street. It was originally located at the corner of 6th and Idaho and was called Central Station, which is now used for restaurants and office space.
In April of 1876, Boise’s volunteer fire department was operating out of Boise’s first firehouse located at 619 Main Street. On September 23, 1883, the firehouse burned to the ground and a temporary station was erected at 6th and Main Street. This firehouse was used until September 1st, 1903 when the “new” Central Station was opened on the corner of 6th and Idaho Street, where it still stands today. The “new” Central Station replaced the original Central, Idaho Street, and Resseguie Street stations. All equipment and manpower was moved to the new firehouse.
The Boise Fire Department continued to grow steadily, causing several relocations of equipment to various fire stations around the city in the early 1900s. However, between the 1920s and 1930s, due to economic hardships, Boise Fire Department was forced to tighten its budget and in effect, many firefighters were laid off and stations were closed, including Station #5 (reopened in 1950). After World War II, Boise Fire Department began to expand once again, including the construction of Station #4 (later closed in 1970 due to the closeness of Stations #3 and #8), Station #2, and Station #7 in 1950 , 1952 and 1965 respectively. By 1980, Central Station had been relocated to 707 Reserve Street in order to accommodate the need for more space and fire stations. It was renamed Fire Station No. 1 and this is where it still stands today.
Cline, Smull, Hamill, Quintieri and Associates began in 1889 as a one-man, one-room architecture office when William S. Campbell, an architect educated in Edinburgh moved to Boise to practice architecture. In 1900 and 1904 respectively, Charles W. Wayland and James A. Fennell became partners with Campell. In 1908, they designed the new fire station. It was the predecessor of the one to be located at 707 Reserve Street in East Boise. Among their other early projects were the Idanha Hotel and the Idaho Statesman Building.
The architecture of Boise’s Fire Station No. 1 is a typical 1980’s firehouse design. The station was built with a very commercial, economical sense; no ornamentations or frivolous space. The station is constructed entirely of brick. It features the typical firehouse amenities including a weight room, captain and chief offices, a common dorm room and communal bathroom, kitchen and a three-rig bay directly attached to the main building. Currently, Fire Station No. 1 houses Engine 1, Brush 1, Dive 1 (originally Dive 3 but relocated to Station #1 in 2000 and became Dive 1), Battalion 1, Brush Rig and ATV. Originally, Station No. 1 housed Truck 1 as well but after 132 years at Station #1, Truck 1 was disbanded. The truck was replaced as Truck 7 at Station #7.
Ever since Fire Station No. 1 was built and occupied in 1980, the impact on the neighborhood is vastly noticeable. Fire Station No. 1 was a symbol of Boise’s growth into a city. As Boise grew out away from downtown and slowly into the foothills, the need for protection against and the response to fire had expanded. The station was structurally designed to fit into the neighborhood, as the simple architecture and straightforward design presents. The emergency light in front of the station was originally a small and unobtrusive light in furthering the blending of the station into East Boise, however due to safety reasons, the light was replaced with a much larger and more modern stoplight.
The integration of Station No. 1 wasn’t necessarily an easy process. The transfer of the station out of downtown Boise and into the suburbs caused some commotion though, most of the opposition died down after the station’s success. However, as firefighter Scott Hale recalls, a neighbor living next door to the station repeatedly complained about the sirens of the Engine at all hours of the night. After a new Division Chief of Operations was installed, she ceased all complaint calls. The station has come under remodel in 2012, which will expand the Station’s dive team abilities, unique to Fire Station No. 1. The remodel will also add a laundry room, reorganize and individualize the dorms, create four distinct, and also individual, bathrooms, as well as add more locker space. Fire Station No. 1 previously ran on geothermal power, much like the surrounding area, but due to the amount of maintenance required, the station now functions on city water.
Today, the significance of Fire Station No. 1 has rapidly expanded beyond its borders. The Dive Team has performed several search and rescue missions along the Boise river, including many instances where lives have been saved. The equipment stored at station one such as jet skis and the ATV make station one the primary source of rescue missions on the water and in the surrounding foothills. While a 48 hour shift can take its toll on a firefighter, the station life at Firehouse No. 1 keeps spirits high. Firefighters tell of tennis ball fights and ultimate pranks that tend to occur on a regular basis at Station No. 1. Firefighters at Station 1 also tend to develop close bonds with their fellow firemen, as described in detail by Scott Hale and his friendship with Earl Swope. All in all, Fire Station No. 1 is a lively part of the Boise Fire Department with a lasting architectural and historical significance.