CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Sunday marks 150 years for the Corpus Christi Fire Department. Fire Chief Robert Rocha calls it an incredible milestone.
“The past 150 years we’ve learned much better how to protect our residents and how to protect ourselves,” he said.
It started with Pioneer Fire Company No. 1 in 1871. Lone Star Hook and Ladder became the second fire department in the city in 1873. Then in 1874, the two merged to form Corpus Christi Fire Department.
Fire trucks have changed, the tactics of fighting fires has changed. But the biggest challenge and accomplishment has been growth.
“With the advent of the increased demand on medical calls for service that we have, the fire department has been able to experience growth in addressing the challenges that we have with the emergency medical responses that we have,” Rocha said.
“Our calls for service keep increasing and the city has been tremendous about adding the ambulances that we need, the stations that we need," said Captain Lonnie Lossemor. "And now we’re finally catching up with the staffing that we need, as well.”
The fire department is up to having 18 stations, 22 fire trucks and 14 ambulances. All is needed for a city situated in south Texas on the Gulf of Mexico. One in which Rocha believes is in the middle of a growth spurt.
“We answer every medical, fire, emergency call for service because we’re uniquely ready, we’re uniquely trained and we’re uniquely equipped to do the job,” said Rocha.
Rocha said all this is possible because for years now, every cadet must be trained in fire suppression and paramedics.
“It was a good strategy by the city and by the fire department to do so because it then gave the fire department flexibility whenever there was a need to administer vaccinations because most of our firefighters are paramedics," Rocha said. They were able to administer vaccines, first and foremost, to the firefighters and the police officers in our area. And then subsequent to that to our senior citizens in our save our seniors vaccination program.”
Rocha said his only future hope is that as the city grows, the fire department grows to match any challenges that come with that.