Sunday, July 29, 2007

Firehouses In Southeast Alaska

I have a friend named Linda, who I have known since I was 12 and living in El Paso. I have mentioned her in a number of posts: The Great El Paso Piss Off of 1955, Natural Beauty, In A Nutshell 32, A Particularly Dangerous Thing I Did As A Kid, Forry Gets His Own Back, The Nesting Box, and Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

Anyway, she lives in Fairbanks with her husband, a retired Fairbanks Fire Department Battalion Chief named Bobby, and until a few years ago, their dog, Alex.

In 1995 I did a tour of small communities in Southeast Alaska, making sure that child care providers and foster parents had the training necessary for their licenses. I did a lot of the training, and also brought tapes with quizzes they could use after I left.* About half way through the tour, I was in Skagway and shot this picture of their original fire house. When I went to visit Linda, Bobby, and Alex that summer I showed it to Bobby, who I hadn't realized previously is interested in historical Alaskan fire houses. I took pictures during the last two stops on my tour and sent them to him.

And so, when I went to Sitka, I got this shot. This fire house is still in use. On the other side of the garage, is the police department -- not an unusual combination in Alaska. Actually, Bobby worked in a combined police and fire department in Fairbanks, and Fairbanks is the second largest city in the state. Fairbanks Department of Safety always has a Police Chief as head. Which isn't as odd as the city of Escalon, in California, where City Hall houses the police and fire departments as well as the City Council offices, etc. and the City Manager is the head of the entire shebang.***

These last two photos are from Haines. This is the old Port Chilkoot Volunteer Fire Department. Fire hoses are dried up here by hanging in a drying tower, and if you click on the photo and enlarge it, you can see that it has a small one. Of course, with a one truck garage, it probably didn't need anything larger. I don't think anyone slept there, the fort itself was very small, one circle of about 40 buildings, all facing inward. The volunteers could run across the commons pretty rapidly.

In many places, the towers attached to fire houses are bell towers. Apparently that hasn't ever been the case here. The Skagway drying tower is the tallest, although I don't know why.

Again in Haines, the Police Department is attached to the Fire Department.

* These days the visiting trainer and tapes have been augmented by on-line training. How fast things have changed; the Internet was so new when I did this tour that it wasn't being used for long-distance training, and now that is a major component of professional development in our smaller communities.**

** Smaller communities, that's all of them except Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau. And Fairbanks and Juneau are only large by Alaskan standards.

*** And I know all of this because when I had my own training firm in Stockton, I had a contract to train all of the clerical and supervisory staff in the smaller San Joaquin County communities, and so I've spent a few pleasant hours drinking coffee with the Escalon City Manager and assessing the needs of his people.

All of the pictures here were taken with a disposable camera, which is why there is so much street in them. And the only thing I know how to do about scanning pictures in is scanning them in, so I'm not yet up to trimming it out.

1 comment:

Kay Dennison said...

What an interesting post!!!!

Our safety director was formerly our Fire Chief. I've known him and his family for years because they belonged to the same parish and our kids grew up together. He's really quite good at his job.