In 1875 Modesto Hook and Ladder Company, Volunteer Fire Department was organized. Man-powered hose cart 21/2. They operated out of a building in the 800 block of 10th (10th/H). A group of civic-minded men organized a volunteer fire department which, in the years that followed, did its very best with primitive equipment and meager water pressure to cope with the many serious fires that plagued the city. In the days before cities like Modesto had professional firemen and modern fire equipment, the volunteer fire department was an honored civic organization. The men of highest standing in the community...judges, lawyers, mechanics, merchants and clergy men...took pride in their membership.
In 1881, nearly all the business houses on Ninth Street (The Front) were destroyed by fire. In 1884 the year the City was incorporated, all the properties between 9th and 11th streets were burned, and in 1899 another fire would have destroyed a large part of the business district except for the fact the city had finally installed fire hydrants with enough pressure to keep the fire barely under control. The last big fire of old Modesto occurred in 1901 when the wooden shacks on and near the corner of 11th and I streets were destroyed, and the last vestiges of the original business district were wiped out.
In 1910 George Wallace was hired as a first paid FF because he was good with horses. He bought 2 horses to pull hose and a ladder wagon. (Prince and Charlie). He bought 2 horses (Bud and Queen). The main Fire Station was relocated to 715 10th St. Called "Central Fire Station" it was also shared with City Hall. In 1911 he was appointed Fire Chief. Modesto Fire Department bought Pope Hartford hose and chemical engine in 1919. It began using gasoline-powered fire apparatus.
In 1924 Station 2 was built. (629 2nd St.) In 1925 Station 3 was built (416 Downey St.) and there were 16 paid fireman. The Seagrave 75’ Ladder was Paced in service in 1928. Station 1 relocated in 1939 to 610 11th Street. In 1947 Retired fire Chief Wallace’s son is hired, George Wallace II. In 1948 Station 4 opens (720 Coldwell Ave).
In 1957 The Modesto City Firefighters Association local 1289 were established who worked 72 hour work weeks with 11 hour day and night shifts. In 1958 the new 24 hour schedule started with 3 shifts. In 1964 Station 5 opens at 200 North Blvd. (W. Briggsmore Ave.) In 1977 Station 8 Opens at Harry Sham Airfield. Also Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Engine begins service. In 1979 Station 6 opens at 2700 Standiford Ave.
Modesto City population exceeds over 100,000 in 1980. In 1980 Station 7 opens at 1800 Mabel Ave. In 1982 Modesto City began transition to 3-0 staffing on all fire apparatus. In 1986 Modesto City began First Responder Medical Service. In 1987 Modesto City began a Hazardous Materials Team. In 1989 Station 9 opens at Fara Biundo.
In 1991 temporary Station 10 opens (A house with a larger garage). In 1993 the Industrial Fire District in South Unincorporated Modesto entered a JPA with City of Modesto Fire and Ceres Fire and split its 2 stations up with both departments. City of Modesto Station 10 was closed and Industrial Station 1 was reopened as Modesto Station 10.
Modesto City population exceeds over 200,000 in 2000. In 2004 Modesto City Began Advanced Life Support pilot program. In 2005 Station 11 opens on Caver and Pelendale.
In July 2011 Modesto Fire Chief Mike Kraus and 164 City of Modesto Fire personnel merged with the Stanislaus Fire Wardens Office and the Salida Fire District to form the Modesto Regional Fire Authority.