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Department History

The Beginning

The first fire protection in Forestville was provided by a group of local citizens who were summoned by the local church bell in town when there was a fire.

In 1938 the unofficial organization of the Forestville Fire Department occurred when the first piece of firefighting equipment was built by a local authorized Ford mechanic, Mr. Archie Hicks, at his garage in town. Mr. Hicks built the vehicle using a Maxwell Car with a 50 gallon wine tank and a hand-operated pump donated by the Petri Wine Company.  This first piece of fire equipment was credited with preventing one home from burning to the ground. Around this time the Department also purchased a hand-drawn 20 gallon soda acid cart. It is unknown if the soda acid cart was ever used to extinguish a fire. 

In 1948 the Department was officially organized when a Fund Committee was formed to collect donations for a fire truck. The committee included Mr. Burton Travis, Mr. Oscar Ludolff, Mr. C. Van Kepple and Banker Tom Silk of the Bank of Sonoma, Forestville Branch.  Mr. Bart Bush and Mr. Ted Goldbeck were responsible for talking to members of the community and obtaining donations. By April 1948 the fund had grown to $1,442.

The First Fire Truck

Mr. Ted Goldbeck was put in charge of locating a used truck that would meet the needs of the community. After considerable searching a truck was located in Stanislaus County California. The truck, a 1937 Ford 1 ton truck, with a pump and tank, had originally seen service with the  Crows Landing Fire Department. The Committee met and agreed to purchase the truck from Stanislaus County for $1,500.00.

When the time came to pick up the truck Mr. Rayford Peterson at the Howler Ranch flew Mr. Cecil Edwards to Modesto to pickup the truck. When Mr. Edwards returned to Forestville there was quite a bit of siren blowing for the arrival of Forestville's first commercially built fire truck.

This truck, known as "No. 2" was sold in the early 1970s but has recently been purchased by the Forestville Firefighters Association which plans to restore it to its original condition and use it in the Annual Youth Park Parade.

Becoming Official

The Forestville Fire Department was officially reorganized in February of 1958, and became the Forestville Fire Protection District, with established boundaries, by approval of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

Fire Chiefs

February 1948 through  February 1951 - Oscar Ludoff and Ted Goldbeck
March 1951 through February 1952 - Lyle Covey
March 1952 through August 1954 - Oscar Ludoff
September 1954 through September 1960 - Marvin Davis
October 1960 through June 1969 - Fred Riebli (first paid Fire Chief)
July 1970 through March 2008 - Gary Duignan (longest serving Fire Chief)
March 2008 - November 2011 - Dan Northern
December 2011 - Present Max Ming

Growth Over the Years

Over the years the District has grown from an all Volunteer organization to a Combination Department made up of seven Career Firefighters, including the Chief, and over 25 Volunteer and Cadet Firefighters.

The District now covers approximately 25 square miles and serves a population of approximately 8500 citizens. The District’s Career and Volunteer staff respond to over 750 service calls per year.