Escalon Fire Department History

(Compiled from minutes. district records and newspaper clippings.)

June 6, 1912     First records indicate a Department was organized by interested businessmen of the Escalon Community at a meeting in the Haines Hardware Store.  A  Mr. Doll was elected Chief.  Mr. Haines was elected Foreman (Captain) of Company # 1. Mr. John H. Martin was elected Secretary-Treasurer.  At this first meeting Mr. Joseph Ridley was paid  $ 8.25 for a hose cart.

July 1,1912    The Department voted to pay the sum of $15.00 to Mr. O.W. Searcy for a hose cart.  This cart is still in our possession at the station.  On July 12th Chief Doll  resigned due to his health and W.R.Gregory was elected Chief.  On July 16, 1912  Ex-Chief Doll passed away and the Department was in charge of funeral arrangements.

August 1913   meeting Mr. Searcy was authorized to make one half dozen spanners for the department.  We still have a couple of these homemade spanners in the department locker.

July 1914 a two-wheeled chemical engine was purchased for the sum of $100.00.  This engine had a sixty-gallon tank containing soda water, an acid jar and about 100 ft. of hard rubber hose and nozzle.  (The tank is still in the department's possession.)

August 1914  saw action by the members to reorganize the department and the Chief and Secretary were appointed the task and to secure some new members. 

September 15,1914  Thirteen new members were elected to the department and assigned to companies.  The department at this time had three hose reels and a chemical engine.  Each piece being assigned to a company under the direction of a foreman. 

Sept. 22, 1914 four more members were added to the department rolls.

June 8, 1915 is the last entry in the minute book for the department until November 6, 1920.
(Minutes from 6-8-1915 to 5-18-1920 missing.)

May 18, 1920    The County Board of Supervisors,  following petition filed by Grant Higgins, et al , appointed a Board of Fire Commissioners for the town or village of Escalon.  More than fifty signed the petition. S. Weinberg,  L. D. Morman and  Samuel J. Irwin were appointed Commissioners as requested in the petition.

November 6, 1920   minutes indicate the department was reorganized with Frank Sigelkoff as Chief and Phil Beaton, later Editor of the Stockton Record, as Secretary-Treasurer.

April 1922     Although County records indicate that the Escalon Fire District was organized in June 1920,  the first reference to any Commissioners in department minutes indicate in April 1922  S.J. Iywin, John H. Martin and Roy Hetzler are mentioned as Fire Commissioners.

February 1923  minutes show that a new siren had been received and installed  and codes for various purposes adopted, as follows:

  1. One Short blast ----- Department Meeting
  2. Two short blasts ---- Turn on lawn water
  3. One or more continuous blasts ---- Fire

March 1925 - Frank Sigelkoff  resigned as Chief and Harry Carlson was elected chief. 

April 1926 - Chief Carlson and others, including Commissioner Hetzler,  urged enlargement of the District so more finances would be available for fire protection.  Chief Carlson resigned and Tracy Mac Pherson was elected Chief and Larry Carlson was elected Assistant Chief.  Arlie Wilhelm was elected Secretary Treasurer.  New Commissioners mentioned in minutes were Ben Mitchell and Otto Peterson.

April 1927- Arthur G. Tibbetts was elected Commissioner.

January 1928 -  Compensation Insurance became compulsory on January 1st.  Commissioners decided to cover the Department.  0. H. "Hank" Bergen was  elected Secretary-Treasurer.

October 1929-  Bill Stroble first mentioned as Commissioner.

November 1928 - First talk of purchasing a fire truck for the department but no was action taken.

December 1929 -- Movement afoot in rural area to organize a committee, under chairmanship of Mr. W.L. Boldt, to raise money to purchase of a fire truck to serve the area.

January 1930 --- Fund raising left up to Civic organizations. Sufficient funds were raised to put a down payment of a Model 40 American La France pumper that was first purchased by the City of Marysville and then sold to the City of Reno, Nv.  American La France offered it to Escalon for $3000 and agreed to install a three hundred gallon tank.

August 25, 1930  saw the completion of the firehouse alongside the Santa Fe railroad and delivery of the new fire truck.

December 6,1930  As a sign of the times, the annual meeting was recessed so all could listen to Amos and Andy on a radio installed by Fred Tuvey of Turner hardware in the banquet room for that purpose. At this meeting it was announced that  Frank Sigelkoff was the new Fire Commissioner.

May 1931 -  Mr. Boldt reported that $1,168 still to be collected and nearly 350 pledges had not been paid.  Some farmers promising to pay when crops were harvested.

November 1931   A telephone was installed at the Fire Station.  The number was  "2".   The telephone company operator was instructed to route night calls to individual members at their homes. Another signs of the times the Christmas dinner for department and wives was served by Mrs. Kitty Stoher for seventy-five cents per plate.  Menu consisted of oyster cocktail, turkey & dressing, cranberry sauce, baked sweet potatoes, plum pudding with hard sauce, celery, olives and coffee.

July 1932   Robert Merrill elected to Department.

April 1933  William Stroble, Frank Sigelkoff  and George Nelson shown in minutes as Commissioners.

April 17, 1933 - After department meeting one half the department went  Boldt's establishment and the other half adjourned to Cadlolo's to try the new legal beer that became available that day.

August 1933   Commissioners told Chief to pare the active roll to ten (10) men due to increased cost of compensation insurance.  New rate would be $110.00 each for ten men.  New state law SB-1042 required compulsory coverage of volunteers.

May 1934 - San Joaquin County Firemen's Association formed in Lodi.  Escalon active in formation and became charter members. Committee appointed to attend Farm Bureau and Grange meetings and urge farmers to install a fire department connection to their pumps and tanks. Committee efforts not very successful.

April 1935 --- Arno Bender elected to Board of Fire Commissioners.

June 1935 --- Commissioner Bender urged enlargement of the district to increase tax returns for fire protection.

August 1935 - Harry Carlson elected Chief;  Leslie Johnson elected to membership and also Secretary-Treasurer of the department.

August 1936 - Committee appointed to proceed with discussions with various groups on forming a rural fire district.  Activity of this committee was not the most active.

February 1937- The Chamber of Commerce donated $25.00  to assist in forming a fire district in the rural area.

March 22, 1937 -- Community meeting sponsored by Chamber of Commerce to explain procedures and benefits of forming a rural fire district.

June 1937 - Escalon Fire Department filled most of officer posts of County Firemen's Association.  Arthur Buss, President; Harry Carlson, Vice President; Robert Merrill, Secretary-Treasurer.

October 11, 1937 - Art Buss elected to Active Membership.

May 2, 1938 - Robert Merrill elected Chief, vice Harry Carlson, resigned.

December 5, 1938 -- Merral Clark elected to membership in department and obligated as new member.

August 1939 Merral Clark elected Assistant Chief.

September 1939   The proposed area of service for the district was confirmed the Board of Supervisors, following petition of majority of property owners in the proposed area of service.  First commissioners of the new fire district were Will Prater, Merle Mensinger and Arthur Adrian.

January 1940 - Tony Gonzales elected to membership.

February 1940  Petitions received and circulated to form a new rural Fire District.

September. 1940 - New Rural Fire District organized. First Commissioners were Robert Merrill, Will Prater and Merle Mensinger. 

December 1940 -  First fire truck received from P.E. Van Pelt Co.

February 14, 1941- the new truck was dedicated at the annual banquet that evening

September 10, 1957 the District was reorganized by the Board of Supervisors following discovery that this District and the Ripon Fire District may have not been legally formed due to the omission of certain procedures by the Board of Supervisors in their  May 18, 1920 action. Ripon District was formed shortly after the Escalon District at this subsequent organization or reorganization. The legal name of the District became the Escalon Fire Protection Department, however, the shorter name persisted.

August 20, 1982 the Escalon Fire Protection District consolidated with the Escalon Rural County Fire Protection District under provisions of the District Reorganization Act (Government Code Section 56261.1) following action by the Board of Supervisors on July 20, 1982. The legal title of the consolidated district was established as Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District. Directors of the new district were D.L. "Dan"  Bava ; Arthur G. Adrian; Lester J. Prater; G. Victor Gonzales and W. Merral Clark.

July 27, 1964. The District was reorganized under the 1961 Fire District Act.


  1. Mr. Doll......................March 1912 to July 12, 1912 .  Died July 16, 1912.
  2. Mr. W.R.Gregory.......July 1912  to November 1920.
  3. Frank Sigelkoff..........November 6, 1920 to March 1925
  4. Harry Carlson............March 1925 to April 1926
  5. Tracy Mac Pherson.. April 1926 to August 1935
  6. Harry Carlson............August 1935 to May 2, 1938
  7. Robert Merrill.............May 2, 1938 to June 7, 1943
  8. Merral Clark..............June 7, 1943 to January 2, 1980
  9. Frank Silviera...........January 2, 1980 to 1990
  10. Jim Rosbrook...........1990 - 1994
  11. Gary Augusto...........1994-2005
  12. Rick Mello................2006- Present

   Other stories or photos

  1. Historical photos
  2. Another  historical photo.

Note:  It is unknown who put these  original notes together which were found in storage in our office. Some of the dates of various events seem to conflict with others.  However, for the most part it appears to be the most accurate early history of the department from its official inception in 1912.

You will be amused by the reference to the Amos and Andy radio show when a department meeting was adjourned in 1930 to enable members to listen to the radio program on one of them "new fangled radios" recently installed at the station.  An amusing reference is made to the recently installed town horn to signal volunteers. One short blast indicated a department meeting. One or more continuous blasts indicated a fire.  Two short blasts prompted someone to water the lawn at the station.  In 1931 the department got its first phone.  The number was "2".  

Escalon was first settled in 1852 when John Wheeler Jones came to homestead a piece of land. The name is Spanish for "stair step". The history of the area is mainly agricultural which is reflected by its motto of  "Land of Peaches and Cream."   Some grammatical editing and spelling corrections were made to the original notes for clarification.
This 1951 photo was taken in front of the station.  L-R Curtis Maxfied, Tony Gonzales, Harry LaFayette and Fire Chief Merral Clark.   More photos.