The Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department was organized on July 13, 1895, by a man named Walter Phillips. Phillips moved to Mineral Wells from Hillsboro where he had been fire chief. He looked over the sprawling buildings which composed of Mineral Wells of those days and decided that the town needed a fire department. Not to be a thinker instead of a doer, Phillips called a meeting of his friends to discuss the formation of a volunteer fire department.
From that meeting of 27 interested citizens, the Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department was organized. Those 27 newly proclaimed volunteer firefighters called themselves Hose Company Number 1 with a Hook and Ladder Company Number 1 being organized two days later. Phillips was elected chief of the department.
During the year 1985, the Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department grew and prospered. Membership grew as did fire alarms in the new and sprawling city of Mineral Wells.
In 1896, Dan Blankenship was elected to succeed Chief Phillips and a third company known as Hose Company Number 2 was formed. Chief Blankenship served for three years until he was replaced by R. J. Hand. Chief Hand served the fire department well and faithfully until his retirement. He died in 1911 and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery here in Mineral Wells.
The first real headquarters of the fire department was at the corner of Oak and Wall streets. The building is in the area now occupied by Western Auto and it held one village truck, two hand hose reels and 1000 feet of Eureka Paragon hose. An early newspaper report stated that “a chemical engine and a team of hoses ae badly needed”. The team of hoses was soon answered with the addition of Ben and Phil to the fire service. Water was supplied through a gravity system with a pressure ranging from 90 to 110 PSI.
The first “paid” firemen were O. D. Heath, Blane Price, Jack Holbert and Ralph Chamberlain. They were given the title of “Desk Sergeants” and dispatched for the police department until a fire was reported. Once a fire was reported, the started the engines and drove them to meet the volunteers at the fire scene. Their unofficial title was “Firehouse Orphans” because they took turns spending the night at the fire station.
The Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department has grown and prospered throughout its over 100 year history. Throughout that growth and prosperity, the department has always tried to hold on to its traditions. First and foremost those traditions are the honoring of its past. Each year on the Sunday afternoon before Memorial Day, the department gathers along with its retirees to honor those retired firefighters who have answered their final call. The earliest firefighter remembered is William P. Callison who passed away in 1895. At the conclusion of the Memorial Service, the active firefighters disperse to place memorial flags on the graves of the firefighters that have since passed.
The department has suffered two line of duty deaths in its history. The first occurred in 1955 when J. B. Courtney died on a fire scene. The second was in 1992 when Tommy A. Parker, who was also a police officer in Mineral Wells, died at a house fire. The cause of death for both firefighters were of a heart attack.