Mandeville Fire Department - St. Tammany Fire Protection District #4
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St. Tammany Fire Protection District #4 History

Early 1830s

One of the first areas to develop on the Northshore was the area of Bernard Xavier de'Marigny de' Mandeville's sugar mill. The purchase of the property in 1830 was part of an English land grant. Some of the first lots for sale in Mandeville were offered in February of 1834 at a price of $80.00 per lot. The town of Mandeville was incorporated in 1840. The newly established town of Mandeville was located west of de' Mandeville's sugar plantation which is today a portion of the Fontainebleau State Park. Another adjacent area to the west of Mandeville is known as Lewisburg, founded in 1834.

1800s to early 1900s

In the mid 1800s and early 1900s as trees were harvested and milled, growth of the Mandeville area occurred as a result of the timber industry. On July 4, 1834, the first local hotel opened for business. The community began to attract attention as it became well known for the fresh smell of pine trees and its pure, healthy, ozone air, which was said to have natural healing qualities.

In 1837, steamboats from the New Orleans area began visiting St. Tammany Parish on the weekends and holidays. These steamboats were capable of ferrying 15 to 18 Model T type vehicles along with their passengers. When the excursion boats arrived, they would unload supplies and thousands of people seeking a weekend retreat in the Mandeville/Abita Springs communities. Visitors disembarked the steamships at wharfs along the Lake shore near Coffee Street and then travel to surrounding areas by electric or steam powered trains and trolleys. The population of Mandeville would often swell from a few hundred to several thousand on summer weekends and holidays. One of the largest gathering places in Mandeville was Jackson Park-an area extending from Coffee Street to Jefferson Street and Adair Street.

A New Orleans newspaper reported that a fire destroyed the Davis Hotel in Mandeville as early as 1847. The first attempts to offer some limited fire protection were in the late 1800s when the community fathers had cisterns bricked into the ditch bank in the old part of Mandeville. The runoff water from local artesian wells would accumulate in the ditches and then gather into the cisterns. In the unfortunate event of a fire, the cisterns could be used as a water supply for bucket brigades. Some of the cisterns were located at the intersections of Girod & Jefferson Street, Lafitte & Jefferson Street, Monroe & Girod Street, and Carroll at Claiborne Street. During this time there were two fire departments within the Mandeville town area-Fire Company No. 1 and Fire Company No. 2. One of the departments was noted as being very socially active. The department relied on family monies to fund their social events. The other company had very limited funds and proved to be a more hands on' organization when fires occurred. Fire Company No. 1 was chartered April 4, 1914. The first Fire Chief of record was Isadore Levy who served from an unspecified date through 1930.

1928

In May of 1928, a used 1917 Model T Ford Fire Truck was purchased from the City of Covington for local fire protection. It is believed that two citizens, Mr. Bossie and Theophile "Dad" Prudhomme acquired the Model T and also contributed money to build a Fire Station in the approximate location of 2118 Monroe Street (Fire Company No. 2). With the purchase of the hand crank Model T Fire Truck both departments merged into one department.

The 1917 Ford Model T was outfitted with two brass/ copper chemical tanks in which a soda acid solution could be mixed at the scene of a fire. The solution would produce pressure to propel a soda acid/foam mixture onto the fire. The mixture also produced a sticky, foam product that would extinguish the fire by smothering it. The 75 gallon tanks were utilized alternately on fire scenes. As one was deployed to extinguish the fire, the other tank was mixed and prepared for duty. The operator would cycle the tanks until the fire was brought under control. The engine was equipped with a rubber jacketed attack hose 200' in length and 1" in diameter.

The apparatus was housed behind Zachary Sharp's Ford Dealership, Sharp Motors, in Mandeville located on Monroe Street near Lafitte. The building was designed and built expressly as a Fire Station for the Model T apparatus. The building still exists today (2007) at the approximate address of 2118 Monroe Street. While it is understood that department members met and drilled regularly with the small Model T Fire Truck, the apparatus never responded to a fire.

Fire Company No. 2
First Fire Station at 2118 Monroe Street
Mr. Zachary
Mr. Zachary "Cutsie" Sharp in the show room of Sharp Motors. Mr. Sharp's Logo was: "C Sharp or B Flat.
1917 Model T Fire Truck
1917 Model T Fire Truck

Receiving and Dispatching Emergencies throughout the Years

1956 Training Certificate
Training has always been an important part of the Fire Department's History dating back to 1956. This is a certificate that was given to Chief Harold "Chitter" West, Sr. in May of 1956.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s the procedure for receiving and dispatching calls for the volunteer department was for someone to shoot a gun three times into the air as an alert to the firemen. Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church located at 316 Lafitte Street, also provided assistance by ringing the Church bells when an incident was reported.

The first telephone exchange was opened in June of 1901 with 35 customers. The exchange was located on the west corner of the intersection of Jefferson Street and Carroll Street, 246 Carroll Street through the early 1950s. A person could now call the Bell Telephone switch board operator from the nearest, available hand crank telephone to report an incident. The telephone number for Sharp Motors was "50". If unable to locate a telephone, the person reporting the incident could go to Sharp Motors or Mr. Sharp's residence on Lafitte Street. Once notified, Mr. Sharp would activate a large siren mounted on top of a cypress water tower (approximately 45' tall) to alert the volunteer fireman. The siren was a Sterling brand, 110-volt electric siren approximately 18 tall by 30 long. It had two large funnel ends to direct the sound away from the siren.

In the 1930s, Fire Chief Harold West, Sr. was the first to have a "combination" fire telephone and business telephone installed in his automotive repair garage. This was a single line telephone that would be activated from the telephone exchange manually by the Bell Operator. West's garage, known as Chitter's Garage, had the telephone number "67". If no one answered the telephone, the Operator would refer to a written list of Fire Department members and call them at their place of work or call Sharp Motors to have the siren activated.

From the 1930s to 1961, a large siren was located at Sharp Motors. In 1961, the siren was relocated to the water tower at 1923 Jefferson Street for more sound effect. The siren's last duty location was at 709 Girod Street from 1963 to mid 1971. If warranted and additional help was needed the siren would be activated to notify volunteer firemen. The volunteers would travel to the Fire Station and read a brief message written in chalk on a black board. The black board was posted on the exterior of the Fire Station. The written message would give the location and type of emergency. The black board system was used until July of 1971.

As time went on, a limited upgrade to the alarm system was added. From 1958 to the mid 1980s the reporting and receiving system for emergency was somewhat primitive. The reporting person would call the published telephone number in the telephone book to report a fire. From the early 1950s to the early 1970s, only four numbers were needed to be dialed, "3311". The telephone number was connected to a ring-down-system. The system would activate ten telephones at one time. The caller would state his/her emergency and one of the volunteer firemen or his spouse would take down the information. The telephone ring-down-system was phased out in the mid 1980s. Most of the departments in the Parish and neighboring Parishes used the same receiving and reporting method at the time. While the system was quit primitive, it worked surprisingly well. An emergency call was never missed and the method somehow worked well for its time.

In July of 1971, the state-of-the-art Plectron Alarm System was activated. The department was the first to purchase a system to alert the volunteers on the Northshore. The complete alarm system including 22 receivers cost $5,500.00. The system utilized a Plectron Radio Receiver System about the size of a small shoe box. Most all of the volunteers had a receiver at their home or business. The system could be activated from the Girod Street Fire Station by an encoder using an alert tone and a verbal message. The radio equipment took the place of activating the siren to alert fireman.

By the early 1980s, the department again upgraded the alarm system. The receivers or pagers were small enough to be carried on volunteers' belts. Volunteer membership ranged from 12 members to as many as 66 members in 1967. The volunteer membership remained around 50 into the mid 1980s.

Since the 1980s, the receiving and dispatch has been a various locations. While at 709 Girod Street, dispatch was manned by duty fireman. Next, the Fire District operated a state-of-the-art Fire Alarm Dispatch Center. The center was located at Station 43 on Highway 59 and was manned by a full dispatch staff. Then, dispatch service was contracted out through Fire District No. 1 in Slidell. Currently, the contract for dispatch service is with the Mandeville Police Department and will soon be relocated to the 911 Center in Covington for the Parish.

1930s

In the early to mid 1930s the town of Mandeville erected a water tower at 1923 Jefferson Street behind the Town Hall. During this time, the town of Mandeville installed 2, 4 and 6 water lines throughout many areas within town limits. Fire hydrants were also installed at some street corners in the old Town area. Through a donation by Mrs. Galbert, the town of Mandeville received a hose cart, most likely with a hand powered water pump, to be used for fire suppression. Draft horses to pull the hose cart were provided by Ernest Prieto and Eugene Esquinance. Mr. Henry Rasch constructed a special harness that was used to connect the hose cart to the team of draft horses.

The horse drawn hose cart was replaced by a locally manufactured 4 wheel hose cart. The new cart was created by Harold West, Fire Chief and automotive garage owner. The 4 wheel hose cart was built on a Buick automotive chassis with two reels mounted on the cart. The cart was outfitted with 600 feet of 2 fire hose and limited equipment. The cart was also designed to be pulled behind the Town dump truck.

When a fire occurred, gun shots, Church Bells, or the siren would be activated to alert department members. The members would then connect the hose cart to a team of draft horses or to the town's dump truck. If the fire location was within range of a fire hydrant, the firemen would lay fire hose from the cart and limited assistance and suppression activities could occur. The Fire Hose Cart was located in a small two story building at Jefferson Street and Carroll Street on the North/East corner.

1945-1952

In 1945, an attempt to begin upgrading Fire Department equipment was undertaken by the town of Mandeville. A fund raising drive was started to allow for the purchase of a new Fire Apparatus with modern equipment. J. Clay Prieto was the Mayor of Mandeville and Harold West Sr. was the Fire Chief. Due to World War II, many items were in short supply as well as trucks and items made of brass and copper. The Fire Apparatus was not received until 1947. The 1947 Ford Fire Truck was outfitted with an 85 horsepower Flat Head V-8 gasoline engine, a 500 gallon booster tank, a Hale 500 G.P.M. mid-ship single stage fire pump and a large 6 volt spot light. The apparatus carried 1200 feet of 2 hose and some 1 hose. The Apparatus was produced by the Howe Fire Apparatus Company of Anderson, Indiana. The town of Mandeville with the financial assistance of many citizens thru fund drives, bingo's, donations, etc. paid for the apparatus, hose and equipment.

From 1947 to 1950, the Fire Station was located at 2013 Jefferson. Then the Fire Station was moved to 1920 Madison Street next to the town jail. From 1950 to 1963, the apparatus was housed in a Town Storage Building/Fire Station at 1920 Madison Street with other town equipment. The 1947 Apparatus remained in service until the late 1970s.

1947 Ford/Howe 500 G.P.M. Fire Apparatus and a 1959 Fire Apparatus

Pictured are a 1947 Ford/Howe 500 G.P.M. Fire Apparatus and a 1959 Fire Apparatus constructed at Sharp Motors by Mr. Fred Krentel and other volunteers.
The Fire Station was located at 1920 Madison Street.

1952

In 1952, Southeast Louisiana Mental Hospital was opened just east of the town limits. In the early 1960s, the Hospital obtained a 1930s model Seagrave fire truck from State surplus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The truck was equipped with a V-12 gasoline engine, a mid-ship pump and hose bed. It was intended for fire protection at the mental institution. The Apparatus was replaced in the late 1960s with a Mini-Pumper mounted on an International chassis. The new mini pumper apparatus had a Hale brand 250 G.P.M. power-take-off mid-ship pump and was outfitted with a limited amount of hose and equipment.

Due to accreditation requirements for hospitals, the State Hospital put the fire apparatus in service. The vehicle was housed near the maintenance shop at the hospital. In the event of a fire or emergency, the maintenance department employees would operate the apparatus and extinguish the fire. While in service, the 1930s Seagrave fire apparatus and the Mini-Pumper had limited action. It is likely that they responded to less than five calls. Southeast Louisiana Hospital decommissioned the Mini-Pumper in the mid to late 1970s and installed a very elaborate alarm system throughout the facility for fire protection monitoring. The system is monitored around the clock at the Hospital's Boiler Room and has direct links to the current dispatch center.

Funeral Bell

The large brass bell donated by Southeast Louisiana Mental Hospital is approximately 12 at the base and 12 tall and is used by the department for funerals. At one time, the bell was mounted on the front of the 1930s model Seagrave fire apparatus. Mr. Stemphfli, a volunteer, had the bell refinished and a bracket fashioned to store the bell. The bell is still used today for funerals.

1958

On January 16, 1958, the Fire District was formed by a joint resolution between the town of Mandeville and the St. Tammany Parish Police Jury. The Fire District was the fourth Fire District formed within the parish and was named St. Tammany Parish Fire Protect District No. 4. The newly formed Fire District was to be funded by a property tax mileage. The Property Tax election was held on February 26, 1958. At the time, both votes and Assessed Value of Property were needed for mileage votes. The results were 62 votes/value $124,650.00 "For" and 18 votes/value $28,450.00 "Against". The two mil property tax generated an approximate budget of $5,000.00 the first year. The first citizens named to the Board of Commissioners were: (by Parish appointment) Rivers F. Galatas, Secretary/Treasurer and T.L. Doby, (by town of Mandeville appointment) Newell Frosch, Eugene Hannan, and Chairman Emory Esquinance.

Original 1958 fire incident report

This is an original fire incident report from December 20, 1958 written by Emory "Flick" Esquinance. This report is very simple, primitive and to the point! The likely correct address is on the corner of LA Highway 59 and McNamara Street or possibly Dupard Street (East Side). Since 1958, the fire incident reporting system has seen many improvements. Presently, the department uses the L. F. I. R. S. (Louisiana Fire Incident Reporting System).

1959

1959 Locally Manufactured Fire Apparatus
1959 Locally Manufactured Fire Apparatus
at Sharp Motors

In 1959, the department again called upon Sharp Motors to assist the department with building a Fire Apparatus. The Department purchased a 1959 Ford F-600 chassis from Sharp Motors for $2,701.96, a portable pump $879.00, and, through the efforts of Father John Leblanc, O.S.B. of Our Lady of the Lake Church, a used 1,200 gallon fuel tank from St. Joseph's Abby in Covington for $100.00. Through the combined efforts of the staff at Sharp Motors and many volunteer firemen, the homemade fire truck was painted red and outfitted with an extended front bumper to hold hose. The extended front bumper for hose was a first in 1959. The truck was ready for action within a few months. The approximate cost of the apparatus and fire fighting accessories was $6,000.00. The apparatus was housed at the Madison Street building until 1963 when the department moved to 709 Girod Street. In 1960, the portable pump was replaced with a 400 gallon per minute Barton-America front mount fire pump.

1961-1962

Initially, consideration was given to a parcel of property located at the south corner of the intersection of Marigny Avenue and Claiborne Street for the Fire District's first Fire Station. The property was designated as a public parcel on the original town of Mandeville's survey and would have been free to the department.  However, following a review, the department decided the property would not be the best location due to its distance from Lake Pontchartrain, and that it was south of an active rail line, etc.

1962-1963

With the start of the Fire District in 1958 and a mileage based budget, the department had funds for growth. On March 22, 1962, the Board of Commissioners approved the $2,200.00 purchase of land from Preston Prieto to build a Fire Station on Girod Street. The property was in need of fill and debris removal. On Saturdays and Sundays, volunteers donated their time and used Police Jury equipment (dump truck, grader & shovels) to move dirt hills from Sharp Road and Lonesome Road to fill the property. Since volunteers donated their time, there was no additional charge for preparing the property.

Plans for the new Fire Station were drawn by William Berg, A.I.A. for $425.00. On June 22, 1962, the Fire Department awarded Gill Brothers of Mandeville the contract to build the Fire Station at 709 Girod Street for $9,318.95. The original building was 35' by 50' with three apparatus bays. The Fire Station was occupied on January 1, 1963. The total call volume was 31 calls per year.

1964

With the opening of the Greater New Orleans Expressway (the Causeway) in the late 1950s, the Mandeville area again experienced growth with new subdivisions and shopping centers being built. In 1964, the Fire District hired the first full-time fireman, Frank Mooney. Mooney, a retired New Orleans Fireman, only worked Monday through Friday during the day. In the late evening, nights, holidays, weekends, etc., the duty coverage was provided by local volunteer firemen. If a fire occurred during regular work day hours, the volunteers who operated businesses would close their businesses and go to the fire. Volunteers were business men from a variety of occupations-garage mechanics, barbers, clothing store owners, bar tenders, plant workers, etc.

1966

In 1966, the Fire District purchased it first custom built fire apparatus. The apparatus was built on a Ford C-750 chassis and the body was built by the Hahn Apparatus Company of Hamburg, Pennsylvania. The Apparatus was outfitted with a gasoline engine, standard transmission, a 750 G.P.M. mid-ship Hale brand 2-stage pump, and a 500 gallon booster tank. The apparatus completely equipped cost $25,000.00. During the early to mid 1960s, the three fire trucks were equipped with C.B. radios for communication purposes.

Today, the apparatus fleet consists of Fire Engines (Pumpers), a Heavy Rescue truck, a Ladder Truck, Ambulances, several utility vehicles, and a Hose Tender. The Hose Tender was the first of its kind on the Northshore and was outfitted with 2000'of 5 supply fire hose.

1966 750 G.P.M. Pumper
1966 750G.P.M. Pumper
First Hose Tender
First Hose Tender

Late 1960s - Early 1970s

In the late 1960s, Riverwood and Covington Country Club subdivisions petitioned the Fire District to open a sub-Station to provide a quicker response to the area. The Fire District did not have available funds to operate a second Fire Station at the time. With the permission and support of Fire District No. 4 and limited funding from the Parish, a Fire Station was erected in the Riverwood Subdivision on Marilyn Drive. The subdivision volunteers acquired a used 1941 Fire Apparatus from the Michoud Assembly Facility in eastern New Orleans. The Fire Apparatus was built by the American LaFrance Fire Apparatus Company. The apparatus was mounted on a 1941 Ford chassis with a 500 G.P.M. mid-ship pump and a 300 gallon booster tank. A local contractor built the wooden two-bay Fire Station at no charge for the subdivision and district. Incidents responded by the sub-Station were limited in number. In 1974, the Walter Smith Memorial Fire Station located on Highway 22 was opened and the sub-station was closed.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Frank Stempfhli, a retired machinist, was appointed as the first dispatcher for the fire department. Mr. Stempfli lived near the Fire Station and had a fire telephone at his residence. When Stemphfli received a fire call he would proceed to the Station on Girod Street to monitor the telephone, radio messages, etc. Stempfli took the position very seriously and rarely missed a call. Stempfli also provided standby coverage of the fire station telephone when the volunteer department would conduct fire drills. During this time frame, the fire department was answering between 80 and 120 calls per year.

Early 1970s

In the early 1970s, Emile Jacobs was appointed as Chaplain to the Mandeville Volunteer Fire Department. For over 20 years, Jacobs began all meetings and drills with a pray. In 2004, Father John F. Talamo of Our Lady of the Lake Church was appointed as the department Chaplain.

1974

In 1974, the department developed a map book system to assist the volunteer and the employees with locating emergencies quickly. The map book system, a first for the Northshore, became a highly requested item by other service organizations such as the Mandeville Police department, the Sheriff's Office, Ambulance providers, etc. In 1974, the original map book contained 29 zones. The map book system developed into a Demand Zone System which is now a standard for all emergency dispatched calls. The system is still in use today and now includes additional information such as fire hydrant locations. Today there are over 80 zones and the zones continues to grow with the community.

In November of 1974, the department changed the color of its apparatus from traditional red to the National Safety color lime-yellow. This was yet another first for the Northshore area.

Picture of Station 41 in Late 1974

Picture of Station 41 in Late 1974.
Notice the blackboard on the front post between the fire engines. This board was used to instruct volunteer firemen where the emergency incident was located.

1975

Picture of Station 42 1975
1975 Picture of Station 42
(3951 La. Hwy 22)

In the early to mid 1970s, Interstate 12 opened bringing with it another rush of people into the area. As the community continued to grow, so did the department. In 1975, a second fire Station was opened-Walter Smith Memorial Fire Station on Highway 22. When the Station opened in 1975, the Station was only manned in the late afternoons/nights. This configuration continued for approximately four months until personnel could be trained and funding made available to man the Station on a continuous basis. Additional stations that were opened in the district include Station 43 on Highway 59 in February 1985 and Station 44 on Highway 190, East in 1987. These stations are manned continuously.

1976

In 1976, the operating budget for the Fire District was $65,430.00. The capital budget for improvements was $25,000.00. The total 1976 calendar year budget was $90,430.00. The emergency call volume was 297 calls.

1978

On June 25, 1978, through the efforts of a previous Fire Chief and Police Jury member, Edmond "Dutz" Baudot, a light Rescue/E.M.S. Unit was dedicated to service. The small van style rescue unit was equipped with an oxygen unit, hydraulic tools for extrication, additional suppression equipment, flood lights, radios, etc. The Light Rescue Unit and Equipment totaling $13,040.29 were donated to the department and remained in service until a larger rescue unit replaced it in 1984.

1983

On September 23, 1983, Fire Chief Leonard L. Frosch received a Fire Science Degree from Delgado Community College. Frosch was the first in the department to achieve a Fire Science degree.

1988

In 1988, the Fire District hired the department's first full time Fire Chief, Chief Earl B. Gorrondona. He served as Chief from 1988 to 2004. In 1988, the department had 19 career firemen and 31 volunteers. The incident call volume was 626 calls.

1990

In August 1990, the Prieto Family offered a four acre site in the Pine Grove Industrial Park off Highway 59 area to the department for a Training Facility. In 1992, the drill tower became the first prop installed at the Training Facility. Since the land purchase in 1990, the department has funded development every year for improvement and training.

In December of 2006, the department purchased another 7.5 acres. The 11 acre Training Facility boasts a four story drill tower, several classrooms, a pond, L.P.G. props, C-PAT testing equipment, live fire and extrication stations, and ladder props. Additionally, four full-time Training Instructors conduct and facilitate daily/weekly training for current employees and neighboring departments.

Training Facility
Training Facility 2006
 
North View of Training Facility
North View of Training Facility
 

1994

In September of 1994, the department added one more first for the Northshore in the fire service sector. The department changed from a First Responder department to a full ALS Ambulance Service. This change reduced the need to wait for a private ambulance provider to arrive for transport. The ALS Service has grown from two ambulances to three with the availability to bring additional ambulances online within minutes. The fleet of five ambulances and a medical cart offer medical services to the citizens with a very quick response time (well below the national average) and timely delivery to any of the three local hospitals. The ALS Service accounts for an estimated 75% of the district's call volume. The ALS service also provides protection to the line firefighters on fire scenes, hazardous material incidents, etc.

Mid 1990s

By the mid 1990s, the department went from a volunteer/career department to a full career department with pay and benefits.

1999

In 1999, the Fire District signed a contract to build an Administration Building next to the 709 Girod Street Fire Station. The Administration Building serves as the location for the offices of the Fire Chief, staff officers, and other support departments that include human resources, EMS billing, records, etc.

2002

The Property Insurance Agency of Louisiana (PIAL) issued Fire District No. 4 a Class 2 insurance rating on March 11, 2002. The PIAL classifications range from 10 to 1, with 10 being assigned risk, and 1 being most favorable and associated with the lowest fire insurance rate. Only a few departments in the state hold a class 1 or 2 rating.

2005-Hurricane Katrina & Hurricane Rita

The department resources and manpower were truly tested during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. The men and women of Fire District No. 4 protected the area for 14 days and nights after Hurricane Katrina without relief. The first task following Katrina was to clear all major and secondary roads of trees and debris. The bravery and professionalism exhibited by department members during this tragic time have been the source of commendations both locally and statewide. Fontainebleau High School on Highway 59 was used as a command center for the fire department as well as other governmental agencies. During Hurricane Katrina Station 42 at 3951 Highway 22 and Station 44 at 24301 Highway 190 East sustained moderate damage from falling trees. Three weeks after Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita struck the Louisiana coastline near Cameron. This storm put yet another strain on resources throughout Southern Louisiana.

Yesterday to Today

Much has changed in the department from the days of the Mandeville Fire Brigade of the mid 1800s when volunteers dipped buckets into the cisterns to extinguish fires. The department has blossomed into a department that is noted statewide for its accomplishments and in some instances for leading the way. In early 2006, the department boasted manpower of 97 employees with four Fire Stations and a full-time Training Facility responsible for training department personnel as well as neighboring department members. Being a full service department, Fire District 4 provides its citizens Fire Protection, EMS service, Hazardous Material service, Public Assistance, Fire and EMS educational opportunities, and many other related services. The department is expected to respond to over 5,000 calls this year.

The department continues to strive to be the "Best of the Best". The department will continue to exhibit growth through increasing manpower and equipment, providing quality training, developing and refining skills, promoting educational opportunities, and pursuing innovative ideas. Members of this department know that they walk with the leaders of the Fire and EMS industries.

2008-50 years of proud service

In 2008, Fire District No. 4 we celebrated our 50 years of dedicated service to the community and achieved another Class 2 rating

Past Fire Chiefs

Names of past Fire Chiefs and the years they served.

  • Mandeville Volunteer Fire Department. (unknown date to 1958)
  • Isadore Levy Unknown date to 1930
  • Julius Levy 1930 to 1934
  • Harold West Sr. 1934 to 1956
  • Edmond Baudot 1956 to 1958
  • St. Tammany Parish Fire Protection District No. 4 (1958 to date)
  • Paul D. Esquinance Jr. 1958 to 1976
  • Leonard L. Frosch 1976 to 1988
  • Earl B. Gorrondona  1988 to 2004
  • Merrick Tassin 2004 to Present

History and Development of the Fire Stations

The following information describes time, dates, interesting facts and background of the Fire Stations and how, why, and who developed the Stations.

Around 1928

The first record of the Town of Mandeville having a designated "Fire Station" was around 1928. Mr. Bossie, Mr. Theophile "Dad" Prudhomme, Zachary Sharp, and others donated time, money and land to build a fire station for the newly acquired 1917 Model T Fire Truck purchased from the town of Covington. The small wooden Fire Station with two swing doors and an asbestos shingle roof was located at 2118 Monroe Street. The fire station was located near Sharp Motors and the alarm siren.

Mid 1930s

With a water tower was being installed behind the Town Hall at 1923 Jefferson Street along with water lines being installed throughout areas of Mandeville, the fire suppression response changed from a Model T Fire Apparatus to a Hose Cart. A two story wooden building at Jefferson Street and Carroll Street was the location of the second fire station. The fire station was approximately 20 feet wide and 35 feet long. The entrance to the fire station was along Jefferson Street. From the mid 1930s to 1947, the two story wooden building housed the first and second Hose Carts. The first cart was pulled by draft horses and the second cart, built on a Buick automotive chassis, was pulled by the town's dump truck. The upstairs area was a living area occupied by a town employee, Mr. J.B. Joiner. Joiner served as a town worker during the day and the custodian of the fire station on nights, weekends, holidays, etc. In the 1930s, this area was considered the "Heart of Mandeville" and was the central business area. The fire station was located across the intersection from the Bell Telephone Office. The telephone office had a duty operator who manually transferred calls.

1947 to 1950

The fire station was moved to 2013 Jefferson Street in 1947. The fire station was a wood frame building with tin walls and a wooden truss roof covered with tin. The wooden swing doors opened toward Jefferson Street. The building was approximately 30 feet wide by 30 feet long and still stands today. The persons responsible for the construction of the building are unknown. The building was likely located on private property owned by the Smith family.

1950 to 1963

In 1950, the Fire Station was moved to a wood frame, tin building approximately 30 feet by 30 feet at 1920 Madison Street. The building had two double doors which opened to Madison Street. The building was owned by the town of Mandeville and was located in front of the old brick Jail House. The building has been renovated several times since 1963 and was used by the Water & Sewer Department for general storage. In May of 2007 the building was take down.

1963 to Present-Station 41

Station 41 around 1969
Station 41 around 1969
Fireman Frank Mooney
(First Paid Fireman)

The Fire Station (Station 41) located at 709 Girod Street was erected in 1962. The property was purchased from Mr. Preston Prieto for $2,200.00. Volunteers assembled on weekends and holidays to prepare the property for construction. Equipment borrowed from the Parish was located behind Eugene Esquinance's home on 427 Lafitte Street in the Parish's maintenance barn. Esquinance was a Police Jury member representing the Fourth Ward. Using the Parish's dump truck, grader, and tractor, the volunteers would hand load the dump truck using shovels to bring fill dirt to the site of the new fire station. This procedure went on for months until the property was brought up to construction grade. Dirt was graded from roadway hills on Sharp Road and Lonesome Road.

William Berg, an Architect from Jefferson Parish, was hired to develop plans and served as the engineer for the original Fire Station at 709 Girod Street. The costs for his services and inspections were $425.00. At $9,318.15, Gill Brothers of Mandeville offered the lowest bid of the six contractors submitting bids. The original building made of concrete block was 35 feet by 50 feet. The Fire Station has a pre-cast concrete roof with three forward and one rear garage doors.

In 1969, an addition to the original building was built. The addition was used for a meeting room, bathrooms, office area, and kitchen. The construction style matched the original construction with concrete blocks and a pre-cast concrete roof. Lloyd Palliser, a local contractor, was the builder.

In 1982, the Fire Department was awarded a federal grant from the Coastal Energy Impact Program to add onto the Fire Station. Mr. Lynn R. Mitchell, A.I.A. and Clover Contractors built the addition. The addition included two rear apparatus bays, one side apparatus bay, offices along the north side, limited sleeping space, a workshop, and a generator room.

In 1993 a fourth addition to the original building was constructed. This addition included office space along the south side and a rear carport. Mr. Lynn R. Mitchell, A.I.A. and Zip Construction built the addition.

In 2000, a fifth construction project updated the building. A small workout gym and additional bathrooms were added. Piazza, A.I.A. Firm of Mandeville designed the building upgrade and it was built by Pellegrin Construction.

1967 to Present

Parking Lot across from Station 41

For many years, the Fire Department leased a parcel of land bound by Girod Street and General Pershing Street for additional parking. The land is directly across from Station 41. The first lease was with the Gulf-Mobile-New Orleans Railroad for $40.00 per year and later with the Illinois-Central Railroad. The property was purchased for $6,000.00 in August of 1977. In 2006, the City of Mandeville paved the parking lot with concrete.

Prior Parking Lot History

Before the Fire Department developed the property in the late 1960s, the property was the site of an abandoned wooden cattle pen. The cattle pen was made of 3 by 12 heavy timbers. Cattle were unloaded from the train through a wooden shoot and held in the area. The town also used the stock yard/pen to hold livestock found unattended within the town limits.

Late 1960s to 1974

Riverwood Fire Station

In the late 1960s through the early 1970s, the Riverwood and Covington Country Club Subdivisions petitioned the Fire District to build a Fire Station in their area for a quicker response. Due to limited funds, the Fire District came to an agreement with the Riverwood/Covington Country Club group. The agreement was that the fire department would build a second fire station in a geographically balanced location to protect several areas and not only two exclusive areas. Until the new station could be build, the fire district offered the group limited funds, training, an alarm system, support, and eventually a 1947 Fire Apparatus.

The Riverwood/Covington Country Club group obtained a used 1941 Fire Apparatus from the Michoud Assembly Facility in Eastern New Orleans. The Apparatus was first stored on Crapemyrtle Drive in the Riverwood Subdivision at Mr. McIntire's residence. It was stored in his front yard with a canvas cover for over two years.

A local contractor from the Riverwood/Covington Country Club area offered to build a fire station at no charge for the Riverwood/Country Club group. A wood frame two bay fire station with a tin roof was constructed. The sub-station was erected on Marilyn Drive in Riverwood Subdivision near the Club House. The Station was used until 1975 when the Walter Smith Memorial Fire Station was opened. Mr. Robert Stanford of the Riverwood/Covington Country Club area was the manger of the sub-Station. The building was later used as a maintenance barn for the area and then dismantled.

1974 to Present-Station 42

Walter Smith, for whom the station is named, was a Police Jury member from 1968 to 1974. Fulfilling the wishes of Smith, Station 42 located at 3951 Highway 22 became a reality in 1975.

Today, the Parish operates as a single body with one budget headed by a Parish President and elected members overseeing specific areas within the Parish. However, in the early 1970s, the St. Tammany Parish Government was structured differently. In the 1970s, the Police Jury system was operated with one member from each Ward and each member had a separate budget. This form of government allowed the taxes collected in an area to maintain that area.

For several years Smith saved a portion of his area's collected tax money and federal revenue shared money for general improvements and wished to build a combined fire station and polling booth. His wishes were only known by his wife, Nedra Smith.

The Smiths were very close friends with Mr. and Mrs. Malcom Stein of Madisonville. Mr. Stein was also a member of the Police Jury. The Smiths and Steins were returning home after attending a social function in Slidell in the Steins automobile when Mr. Smith suffered a massive heart attack. Smith was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

At the next monthly meeting of the Parish Police, Mrs. Smith was appointed to her husband post as Police Juror for the remainder of his term (less than a year). Mrs. Smith requested the assistance of Mr. Stein in fulfilling her husband's wishes of a combined fire station and polling booth.

Mr. Stein and Mrs. Smith approached the Commissioners of the Fire District and unveiled the plan conceived by the late Walter Smith. Due to the limited time period of Mrs. Smith term as a Police Juror, the directions and plan was as follows:

  1. The money was immediately available.
  2. The fire station/polling booth had to be completed before Mrs. Smith's term expired (less than a year).
  3. The August Perez, A.I.A. Firm, architect for the Parish, would draw up the plans. Starting next week if the Fire District is ready or not.
  4. The building must meet the architectural design of the Beau Chene area. At the time, the design for the condominiums near the Beau Chene Club House and other areas was an exterior design of 1 by 12 board and batten with cedar roof shingles.

The only question asked to of Fire Department officials was "How long is a Fire Truck?" Beau Chene donated a parcel of land within three miles as required by PIAL.

In 1975, the fire station opened on schedule and at no charge to the Fire District. Mrs. Smith dedicated the fire station at the ceremony on October 12, 1975. The contractor who was responsible for building the station was Campbell Engineering Company.

The Station was positioned on the property with the apparatus doors opening to the east. The door positioning was a result of future plans of the Beau Chene subdivision. The subdivision was planning an additional entrance, but later moved it to another location (Fontainebleau Entrance).

In the late 1980s, the Fire Department installed vinyl siding on the exterior of the Fire Station.  The original municipal address of the station was 3915 Highway 22. However, after the vinyl siding was installed it was noticed the municipal address was reinstalled incorrectly as 3951 Highway 22. Since it was not corrected immediately and other businesses began to open in the area, the municipal address is now 3951 Highway 22.

In 1994, the station was enlarged to accommodate the expanding needs of the Fire Department. An additional bay was added to house the Aerial Apparatus. This addition was developed by Lynn Mitchell, A.I.A of Mandeville and Zip Construction.

In 2004, the station built its third addition. This addition included additional living space, gym, and locker room. This addition was developed and constructed by Piazza, A.I.A. of Mandeville and TCB Builders of Slidell.

February 1985 to Present-Station 43

Station 43 located at 68458 Highway 59 opened in February of 1985. The land was donated by the J. Clay Prieto Family to the Fire District. The fire station plans were developed by Lynn Mitchell, A.I.A. of Mandeville and built by Campbell Construction for $192,708.00.

Prior to construction of the station, the fire department installed a 4 P.V.C. water line from the fires station to an artesian well site approximately mile away in the Pine Grove Industrial Park. This project was completed with duty personnel and is still in limited operation today.

The donated property was below grade and subject to flooding. At the time, the City of Mandeville was upgrading the municipal boat launch on Jackson Avenue at Bayou Castine. All of the excavated dirt was relocated from the boat launch to the Station 43 site on Highway 59. The relocation process took several weeks and went on day and night until completed.

When the concrete foundation for the new station was being poured the form boards failed on the south side and released a large amount of wet concrete. The area had to be jack hammered out and removed. In several places the jack hammering repairs left large squares and odd shapes inside the apparatus room. The replacement/repair marks are still visible today in apparatus room.

Shortly after the building was completed a company named JIMCO a concrete company donated daily concrete overages to the department at no charge. The donations varied from day to day. The employees poured and finished the rear driveway at no charge to the department. Since the department did not have time to bring in fill dirt between donations, some areas of the rear driveway are 18 thick.

In 1996 the building was renovated and a state-of-the-art Dispatch Center was built at the rear of the station. The Dispatch Center was in operation for several years until the service was moved to the Slidell Fire Department Facility.

1990-Training Facility

The Training Facility site was originally around four acres. It was purchased from the J. Clay Prieto family for $25,000.00 in August of 1990. In December of 2006, an additional 7 areas of land was purchased from the Prieto Family for $569,877.00.

The facility's first training prop, a four story masonry drill tower, was erected in 1992. Mike Piazza, A.I.A developed the plans and Owens Construction of Slidell built the tower at a cost of $108,200.00. The engineering report referencing the soil composition indicated a need for piling under the drill tower. While the Architect and Structural Engineer ordered piling to be driven, the construction Superintendent misread the blue prints and had the pilings placed opposite to the drawing. The Contractor had to drive additional piling in order to meet the engineer's specifications.

Every year since 1990, the department has funded development for the Training Facility. Some of the capital improvements include fencing of the perimeter, a drafting pond, improved roadways, facility bathrooms, additional props, parking, a designated burn area, portable classrooms (donated in 1998 by the School), and a C-PAT Test center.

In 2004, a 60 by 100 metal building was erected by Mendow Construction of Mandeville. In 2007, the inside of the building was completed with a design by Rick Border, A.I.A. of Mandeville and an interior built by Mendow Construction of Mandeville. The cost was less than $200,000.00. The building allows the full-time training staff to offer classes developed in house, classes from the L.S.U. Firemen Training Institute in Baton Rouge, Delgado Community College courses, and National Fire Academy coursework.

1987-Station 44

In 1986, Fire District Chairman Elmo Hahn and the Board of Commissioners requested from the State of Louisiana Department of State Parks a one acre parcel of property in Fontainebleau State Park for a Fire Station. The property requested was located on the South side of Highway 190 near Bayou Cane. Even though Hahn was a State Official and was in charge of all draw bridges and ferry boats in South Louisiana, the Park system would not donate a parcel of land on the south side of Highway 190. They did donate a parcel of land on the north side of Highway 190 near Bayou Cane. The station was designed by Ron Kilcrease, A.I.A. of Mandeville and built by C.S. Enterprise Inc. of Slidell for $109,650.00. The address is 24301 Highway 190 East.

2000-Administration Building

Administration Building
Administration Building

In 2000, coinciding with renovations to Station 41 the Administration building was constructed.

The two story building was designed by Piazza, A.I.A of Mandeville and built by Pellegrin Construction.

The building serves as office space for the Fire Chief and staff personnel.

  

Author

William C. "Billy" Esquinance

Chief of Operations

7-12-07

Acknowledgments & Bibliography

This information was taken from the following informational sources and past members.

St. Tammany Parish Farmer News Paper

Banner News Paper

Times-Picayune News Paper

Dixie Roto Magazine

The Mandeville Sun, New Paper

Departmental Files & Records

St. Tammany 1885 -1945 a photographic essay

St. Tammany Historical Society Gazett of 1981

Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville 1785 - 1868 (Book by Ellen Ulken)

Interviews with:
Emory Esquinance, (Past Fireman, Chairman of Board of Commissioners, [1958 - 1976], Superintend [1977 - 1986] Sec./Treas. to Fire District 4. [1987 - 1990]
Paul D. Esquinance Jr.,(Past Fire Chief [1958 - 1976] and lifelong Member)
Leonard L. Frosch, (Past Fire Chief [1976 -1988], Board of Commissioners Member [1990 -1999] and lifelong member

Edited by:
Martin and Jane Latino
Jennifer Esquinance

Emergency Call Volume Responses

Below is a legend of the call volume since 1957 for St. Tammany Parish Fire Protection District No. 4. The call volume represents all types of calls to which the department responds. These include but are not limited to the following: Structure Fires, Motor Vehicles Incidents, Mutual Aid requests, Public Assistance, Medical Emergencies, Stand-by requests, Hazardous Material Incidents, and Rescue scenarios.


Year

Calls

Year

Calls

1957

10

1985

560

1958

31

1986

711

1959

N/A

1987

595

1960

N/A

1988

626

1961

20

1989

611

1962

58

1990

689

1963

79

1991

745

1964

43

1992

995

1965

53

1993

1144

1966

105

1994

1549

1967

85

1995

2168

1968

119

1996

2365

1969

90

1997

2384

1970

89

1998

2887

1971

91

1999

2934

1972

110

2000

3374

1973

109

2001

3353

1974

138

2002

3211

1975

148

2003

3219

1976

297

2004

3762

1977

271

2005

4389

1978

371

2006

4615

1979

380

2007

4416

1980

399

2008

4987

1981

581

2009

4643

1982

553

2010

4617

1983

556

2011

4789

1984

541

2012

4972


F.Y.I. The Total Budget Expense was:

1958    just over $ 5000.00
1994    $1,976,526
1995    $2,416,153
1996    $2,838,810
1997    $3,378,554
1998    $3,522,030
1999    $4,322,422
2000    $4,312,224
2001    $4,754,878
2002    $5,106,098
2003    $5,929,238
2004    $6,474,682
2005    $7,621,283
2006    $7,929,940
2007   $11,167,561
2008   $11,742,294
2009   $13,043,687
2010   $12,673,822
2011   $14,357,153

Fire Insurance Classification

The Property Insurance Agents of Louisiana, commonly known as the Rating Bureau, grades the Community and the Fire Department to determine the efficiency of the department and other related departments. The classification is also known as the ISO Rating. The rating schedule is very complex and is based on many factors. The rating schedule covers the efficiency of the department from the fire ground operations, future planning, available water supply, communications, etc.

The rating schedule ranges from Class 1 to Class 10. A Class 1 rating is the best and is associated with the lowest fire insurance premium rating. A Class 10 rating indicates improvement is needed and is associated with the highest fire insurance premium rate.

The rating schedule is broken into three sections: Fire Suppression, Communications, and Water Supply. The percentage values of the three rating sections are:

  1. Fire Suppression 50% of the department's grade.
  2. Communications 10% of the department's grade.
  3. Water Supply 40% of the department's grade.

Total 100% of Grade

The following is a history of Fire District No. 4 Fire Insurance Rating Classifications:

Effective Date: Public Protection Class Area Assigned Public Protection Class
Before November 18, 1963 N/A N/A
November 18, 1963 Class 9 Town of Mandeville only
May 13, 1974 Class 7 Town of Mandeville only
December 20, 1974 Class 7 3 miles road distance of Riverwood sub-station on Marilyn Drive
August 27, 1975 Class 7 3 miles road distance of Walter Smith Memorial Fire Station, 3951 Highway 22. (Opened)
October 18, 1982 Class 5 Complete Fire District
January 25, 1988 Class 5 Fontainebleau Fire Station Opened
March 21, 1988 Class 4 Complete Fire District
September 3, 1991 Class 3 Complete Fire District
March 11, 2002 Class 2 Complete Fire District
Due in early 2008  Class 2  Complete Fire District