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Meridian Fire History

In early 1908, the City of Meridian formed their first Fire Department when a group of volunteers successfully tested a newly purchased Champion double cylinder chemical fire extinguisher. With LeRoy Adams as the first Fire Chief the department started out fairly small, serving only 600 residents at the time. Jacob Eames, a local blacksmith followed Chief Adams as the second Meridian Fire Chief and in approximately 1924 Amos Whiteley, another local blacksmith and skilled mechanic took the job.

As the City and Department continued to grow, Roger Welker took over the Fire Chief position in 1945. Chief Welker remained Chief until 1983, dedicating 38 years to our Department. In the early 1950’s, during Welker’s time as Chief, a partnership was formed with the Rural Fire Protection District to better serve and protect citizens in the City limits and the Rural area. This partnership proved to be very beneficial to the City and the Rural Fire District and continues today.

In late1983, Kenny Bowers became Meridian Fire’s fifth Fire Chief. Kenny served in this capacity part-time until 1992 when he moved into the position full-time. Chief Anderson accepted the position of Fire Chief for the City of Meridian in April of 2005 and Chief Bowers moved to Asst. Chief. Chief Anderson retired in April of 2010 and the Department’s Deputy Chief of EMS, Mark Niemeyer, was promoted to Fire Chief.  In 2020, Chief Niemeyer departed from Meridian Fire, and the Department’s Deputy Chief of Operations Charlie Butterfield was named Interim Fire Chief, until the position was filled by MFDs current Fire Chief Kris Blume in February of 2021.

Today the department runs on an 28.5 million dollar budget. There are eight fire stations, a Fire Safety Center and a shared Public Safety Training Facility within the District. The Department employees a total of 125 employees. Meridian Fire currently responds to over 8,500 calls per year.

Meridian Fire Bell - 1911

The fire bell is a significant part of the Meridian Fire Department history. The bell was originally purchased 100 years ago and placed in the waterworks station in order to notify the volunteer firemen that there was a fire. The Hello girl would ring the bell directly from the central telephone station.

The bell weighs approximately 550 lbs. The cast steel bell is 36” and was purchased on August 18th, 1911 for $52.50.

As technology advanced the bell was no longer used and for awhile hung above the only fire station within the Meridian Fire District. It was then used for many years at Meridian High School and rung in honor of every touchdown. After a while, it was retired from the football games and sat below their bleachers. Then in the Spring of 2011, Captain Bill Allen contacted Meridian High School and was able to return the bell to the Meridian Fire Department.

The Meridian Fire Department members used their talents and restored the bell to its original condition by soda blasting off the blue and gold Meridian High Warrior paint. On September 11, 2011, just past the bell’s 100th birthday, the bell was dedicated in a ceremony held at Station 1. The bell now hangs in its permanent resting place in front of Meridian Fire’s Station number 1 on Franklin Road.

Please see below to read the full article from 1913 on the Meridian Fire Bell.

Meridian, Ada County, Idaho, Friday, January 31, 1913

Fire Bell

Meridian Fire Chiefs

Leroy Adams had become the first Meridian Fire Chief. He had 19 members of the volunteer company including Jacob Eames who would later become the second Fire Chief. There is not much known about Leroy Adams.

July 11th, 1908 - Fire Test Satisfactory - The test was pronounced thoroughly satisfactory and the boys were delighted that they immediately organized a volunteer fire company with Leroy Adams as Chief. Click here for the full article.

Jacob Eames took over the Fire Chief position in 1911. That same year the 550lb, 36” cast steel fire bell was purchased for $52.50 and was placed in the Water Works Plant. Click here for further information about the bell. There is not a clear date of when Chief Eames stepped down as Chief, but according to an article from 1924, Amos Whiteley had taken over as Fire Chief.

An article from the Meridian Times states that in January of 1924, the “New Fire Truck Ready for Service in Meridian”. Click here to view full article. Amos Whiteley was Fire Chief and Ira Voorhees was Assistant Chief. He owned a blacksmith shop as was a mechanic. It is estimated that he held the Fire Chief position for 12 years until handing the title over to Meridian Fire’s Assistant Chief, Ira Voorhees. “There have been many fireman in what you would call the good old days, but none who gave more long and interested service than Amos Whiteley. There were mighty few fires that he missed.” - Meridian Times May 29, 1936. Click here to view the full article.

Ira Voorhees was the Assistant Chief to Chief Whiteley in 1924 when a new fire engine was put into service. There is not a clear date of when he made the transition into his new role as Fire Chief, but an article from May of 1936 states that “The present Chief is Ira Voorhees who has been a member of the volunteers for about fifteen years.” - Meridian Times, May 29, 1936. During 1936 Chief Voorhees had nine volunteers under his command. It is estimated that he held the position of Fire Chief for 9 years and spent a total of 24 years as a part of the Meridian Volunteer Fire Company.

Chief Welker saw the most change during his time as Meridian Fire Chief, partly because of the growth within the city and partly because he was the Fire Chief longer than any other in Meridian Fire Department history. During the 38 years that Welker was Chief, he formed a partnership with the Rural Fire District in order to protect and serve the citizens within the city and rural areas. Not realizing it at the time, this partnership is very significant and continues today.

He oversaw the building of a centralized fire station on North Meridian and Broadway. He also oversaw the addition of Rescue One, a volunteer response team which was organized in 1976 to cover medical emergencies and did so for 18 years. As the department grew and the needs of the citizens within the Meridian Fire District became great, Chief Welker hired the first full-time employee, Ray “Skip” Voss. Skip was hired in 1977 and served as Fire Marshal. 

Chief Bowers joined the Meridian Fire Department in 1972 as a volunteer firefighter. He worked through the ranks and was appointed acting Chief in 1984. He served in this capacity part-time until 1992 when he then moved into the position full-time. Chief Bowers hired the first full-time firefighter, Steve Gempler, in 1992. In 1999, Assistant Chief Joe Silva, in charge of operations and training came aboard. The department has grown enough by 2000 that Chief Bowers hired the first administrative assistant, Greta Seals.

Under Chief Bowers’ direction, Meridian Fire built 3 new fire stations, and equipped them with the necessary apparatus. Chief Bowers was instrumental in starting the Thermal Imaging Program, the Defibrillator Program and establishing Meridian Fire’s Safety Center which opened in 2005. Also, in 2005, Chief Bowers agreed to have Ada County Paramedics move into Fire Station 2 to aid Ada County in their response times to the area of the city. In April of 2005 he became the Department’s Assistant Fire Chief and then in 2006 he joined the Fire Prevention Division as our Fire Inspector. He is passionate about Life Safety in the Meridian community for citizens, and continues to be the face of the Department as he inspects businesses and serves our community.

Chief Anderson began his fire service career in 1977 as a paid on-call firefighter with the Cole-Collister Fire Protection District (North Ada County Fire a & Rescue). He was hired as a full-time firefighter with Nampa Fire Department in 1981 and worked as a Firefigher, Driver/ Operator, Training Officer, Division Chied and Assistant Chied. He was appointed to Fire Chief of Nampa in January of 1999. Under his leadership, Nampa Fire Department built a new combination police/ fire sub-station, implemented an Advanced Life-Support Paramedic Engine Company Program, and lowered its ISO rating to a Class 2. While Chief at Nampa Fire, he also served as an interim Fire Chief for Kuna Fire in 2004.

Chief Anderson accepted the position of Fire Chief for the City of Meridian in April of 2005. Under his direction, Meridian Fire was also successful in adding a Paramedic Engine Company Program to the department. He oversaw the completion of 2 new fire stations and a state of the art Training Tower. The Department also acquired its first aerial ladder truck. In addition, Meridian lowered its ISO rating to a protection class 3 in June of 2009.

Chief Anderson was voted Idaho Firefighter of the year in 1995 and also voted twice as Canyon County Firefighter of the year. Chief Anderson was instrumental in establishing the Idaho Regional Hazardous Material Teams for the Stat of Idaho, which now has 7 teams throughout the State. He trained many of the initial team members and served as Team Leader for the Nampa/ Caldwell Team from 1993-2004. Chief Anderson was a strong advocate of firefighter training throughout his career instructing and developing many course that are still in use today. He served on the board of directors of the Idaho State Fire School for 16 years and served as the legislative chair for the Idaho Fire Chief’s Association. Governor Kempthorne appointed Chief Anderson to serve on the Medal of Honor Commission for the State of Idaho in July 2004. Chief Anderson also served a 4 year term as Councilmen for the City of Meridian from 1998-2002. He is a long-time resident Meridian graduating from Meridian High School in 1976.

Fire Chief Mark Niemeyer was born in Seattle, WA and graduated from Bothell High School. He attended Central Washington University where he completed the University’s paramedic program. From 1993 to 2007 Chief Niemeyer worked both as a Field Paramedic and volunteer firefighter, and in 2007 left Ada County Paramedics as an EMS Battalion Chief after accepting the position of Deputy Chief of EMS for the Meridian Fire Department.

In 2010, Chief Niemeyer was named Fire Chief for the Meridian Fire Department by Mayor Tammy de Weerd and was confirmed by the City Council.

As a member of the City’s leadership team Chief Niemeyer helped lead the City’s efforts of Emergency Management and Preparedness, Strategic Planning, and regional partnerships. He was a board member for both the Ada County/City Emergency Services System as well as the Southwest Fire/EMS Chiefs Association. Outside of Meridian, Chief Niemeyer was actively involved in local and state issues that involve the fire service. He was a board member of the Idaho Fire Chiefs Association as well as the Western Fire Chiefs Association, and lead the technology charter of the Western Fire Chiefs Association Wildfire Initiative. Chief Niemeyer is also a past president of the Idaho Fire Chief’s Association EMS Division, and has served as a committee member for the National Fire Protection Agency.

In 2020 in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Chief Niemeyer was asked to serve as the Emergency Manager for the City. He served in this role until November 2020 before leaving to become Boise Fires new Fire Chief. 

Kristopher T. Blume is the Fire Chief of Meridian Fire Department, Idaho. With over two decades of fire service experience, he is an author, lecturer and independent consultant. He is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer (EFO) program and is an instructor at the National Fire Academy. As a student of the fire service, Blume is focused on values-driven, mission-focused leadership for the profession.

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