Posted in Buildings, Montclair, Then and Now, Uncategorized

A Storybook Firehouse

In the beginning

 There was temporary station at the corner of Moraga and Hampton (now La Salle). Local builder Cos Williams a local builder donated the use of the land. 

An average day

Report at 9 am – They would report for duty at the station and 13th and Hopkins (now MacArthur), and drive the hook and ladder up to Montclair. They did all their cooking on an outdoor camp stove

Off at 7 pm – At the end of they would pile onto the truck again and drive down the hill.

Lieutenant F.H. Waldron was the commanding officer. 

  • L.W. Parks – driver
  • E.E. Terrell – driver
  • F.W. Cochran – hoseman
  • C.A Stone 

They fought two fires on their first day.

Engine Company No. 24

In June of 1926, $11,000 was appropriated for a new firehouse in Montclair. The city purchased the land from the school department in December of 1926 for $4,500. The final construction cost was $18,900.

Original Blueprints – Eldred E. Edwards 1927

Construction of the new firehouse got underway in early 1927.  Fire Commissioner Colburn officially accepted the firehouse in August of 1927.

The land that the firehouse is on was once the Hays Canyon School.

Plans were drawn up by Eldred E. Edwards of the Oakland Public Works Department.

The style of architecture is primarily Old English. The construction method was unique among firehouses at that time, being pre-cast of cement, molded on the ground. All the plumbing fixtures and water pipes, conduits for electrical wires were cast in cement.

Storybook-style fire house in the Montclair district of Oakland, California. 1928 ohrphoto.firedept.006.


The roof consisted of 100 curved slabs of concrete set in grooved beams and held in place with slotted bolts.


Doubled copper strips run along the ridges and form decorative motifs at the gable peaks. These decorations simulate fire, which follows along the peaked roofline and leaps into flames and gable corners. The copper has been painted white.

Work was done in 1934 as part of the WPA. Oakland Tribune 1934
A firetruck for fighting hills fires on view in the foreground. 1934, ohrphoto.districts.031.

Fire Captain Killed in the Line of Duty

Fire Captain Joseph F. Pimentel was killed, and three firemen were injured when their fire truck skidded out of control at the corner of Taurus and Broadway Terrace. Pimentel was pinned against a tree.

The fire truck was headed to a small blaze at the home of Otto R. Johnson at 6356 Crown Avenue.

January 22, 1942

Oakland Tribune Jan 22, 1942

The injured firemen were Patrick S. Doyle, John Baratini, and Ray O. Wells.

Oakland Tribune Jan 22, 1946

Oakland’s Best Decorated Firehouse

In 1951 Engine Company No. 24 was awarded the first prize of $500.00 for being Oakland’s best decorated firehouse. The Oakland Tribune also awarded the firehouse a perpetual trophy, which was installed in the house.

The firehouse was an old church scene, with a “Surrey with a Fringe on Top” arriving. Animated choir boys accompanied by an old pump organ, are shown singing Christmas carols.

Christmas Chapel with Choir1951

In 1952 they erected an old-time country store… complete with pot-bellied stove and family photographs and animated figures. Inside a clerk is showing a blushin customer, a lady, a pair of “long john” underwear. Nearby is a blacksmith shop. There was a large holly wreath on front of the firehouse.

Oakland Tribune December 1952

In 1953 the firehouse was decorated as a church with a choir loft and organ. A special merit award was given to the house by the SF Examiner.

Oakland Tribune Dec 18, 1953

Montclair Fires and Such

Montclarion 1955
Oakland Tribune 1953
Montclarion 1957 on the 30th Anniversary

Teddy of Engine No. 24

Oakland Tribune

Earthquake Hazard – 1960s

The Hayward Fault runs right down the middle of Moraga Avenue in front of the firehouse.

Because of that, the firehouse was determined to be an earthquake hazard and could not be repaired. The city hired Anderson, Simonds, Dusel and Campini to provide architectural services for a new firehouse.

Oakland Tribune 1962

The city was prepared to tear down the Montclair firehouse and build a new one for $165,000. After an outside firm determined it was indeed unsafe to that day’s standards.

Oakland Tribune December 27, 1963

City Delays Replacing Firehouse

In October of 1962, Oakland’s City Council held up the money to build a new firehouse and wondered if the money could be used to “repair” it instead.

The firehouse is called ” the country club of the city” and “if it is unsafe so’s my house.”

Councilmember 1962

There was a dispute over the city manager’s report that the firehouse was damaged enough during a recent earthquake (??)to make it a hazard to its occupants. One architect said it could be repaired at little expanse with some structural steel.

“two independent consultants said the building is unsafe and should be replaced.

Oakland City Manager 1962

I can only assume that Oakland had money problems b they were no longer going to build a new firehouse. Instead, the council approved $22,000 for structural reinforcements, waterproof, and more habitable.

Contract Awarded

Oakland Tribune Jan 22, 1964

In January 1964, a contract was awarded to M.W. Garing for $13,975 to repair the firehouse.

Loma Prieta – 1989

The firehouse was damaged in in the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. The house was decommissioned in 1991.

Oakland City Landmark #34

On March 18, 1980, the old fire station was designated as Oakland City Landmark #34 

Address: 6226 Moraga Avenue, Oakland, California

Firehouse Today

  • Fire Station was decommissioned around 1993 due to concerns that a facility for first responders should not be located on an active earthquake fault,” a city report stated.

In 2018 City officials announce that they were seeking development or purchase proposals for two parcels on Moraga Road. One is a vacant property totaling 24,000 square feet and the other totals 16,000 square feet and contains the Montclair Fire Station, also known as Firehouse No. 24.

Firehouse For Sale – Loopnet 
Firehouse For Sale – Loopnet 

More Info:

You can view the set of blueprints here:

Montclair Firehouse Blueprints – Dropbox

The End

Author:

I grew up in the Montclair District of Oakland, CA. I attended Thornhill Elementary School, Montera Junior High, Skyline High School, and spent some time at Merritt College.

3 thoughts on “A Storybook Firehouse

  1. Dorothy, I loved read all this history of the fire station. Much of it I never knew. I definitely remember going over there every Christmas in the 50’s to see the decorations. As a young child, I looked forward to them every year and thought they were fabulous. Thanks for sharing all this great information. You continue to make my Montclair memories even more precious…. Nan

    Liked by 1 person

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