History of the Meridian Fire Department
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.
In 1911 a new fire bell was purchased for $52.50. It weighed 550 pounds, was 36” tall and made from cast steel (See below for more details and information). This bell was rung direct from the central telephone station switchboard. A new fire truck was purchased that year as well. It was fully equipped with two 35 gallon chemical tanks, 100 feet of chemical hose, 1200 feet of fire hose, a siren whistle, the latest type flash light, new nozzles and gas masks for a total purchase price of $1200.
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. A decision was made to jointly fund and to house all the fire equipment in one station located at the center of the district. This partnership proved to be very beneficial to the City and the Rural Fire District and continues today.
Rescue One, a volunteer response team, was organized in 1976 to cover medical emergencies and did so for 18 years before these calls were handled by the expanding Fire Department.
The first full-time employee, Ray “Skip” Voss, was hired in 1977 and served as the Fire Marshal. 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 Bowers hired the first full-time firefighter, Steve Gempler, in 1992 and in October of 1999 an Assistant Chief, Joe Silva, in charge of Operations and Training, came on board. The Department had grown enough by the year 2000 that the first administrative secretary, Greta Seals, was hired. Under Chief Bowers’ direction, Meridian Fire Built 3 new fire stations and equipped them with the necessary apparatus. He was instrumental in starting the Thermal Imaging Program, the Defibrillator Program and establishing Meridian Fire’s first Fire Safety Center which opened in 2005. Also in 2005, Meridian Fire agreed to have Ada County Paramedics move into Fire Station 2 as well to aid Ada County in their response times to that area of the city.
Chief Anderson accepted the position of Fire Chief for the City of Meridian in April of 2005. Under his direction, Meridian Fire was successful in adding a paramedic engine company program to the department. He oversaw the completion of two new fire stations and a state of the art Training Tower. The department also acquired its first Aerial Ladder Truck.
Chief Anderson retired in April of 2010 and the Departments Deputy Chief of EMS, Mark Niemeyer, was promoted to Fire Chief. Chief Niemeyer has overseen the formation of the Emergency Medical Systems Joint Powers Agreement and also the Joint Municipal Fire Testing and Recruit Academy venture.
Today the department runs on a 8.5 million dollar budget. There are five stations, a training tower and a Fire Safety Center within the district, five first response engines and an aerial ladder truck. The Department employees a total of 72 employees. Meridian Fire currently responds to over 5,000 calls per year.