History on the Friona Volunteer Fire Department
“Efforts to organize a fire department in Friona began around 1930 or 1931” according to Charley Bainum, in a newspaper article written Jan. 22, 1959. “I can’t remember the exact date” he says, “But, it was right after the old well was drilled.” (Bainum was referring to the city of Friona’s Well No. 1). Joe Landrum was mayor of Friona and after they got together with half a dozen men interested in fighting fires, Mr. Landrum appointed Howard Morris, the first Fire Chief in 1931.
Howard Morris, Fred White, Ray Smith, and Charley Bainum were among the first firemen in Friona.
In 1932, Jerome Buchanan, the owner of the International house donated an old school bus chassis, and this became the first fire truck in Friona. A box was built on the back to hold hoses. The only water pressure they had came from the fire hydrants.
Bainum took over the job of Fire Chief in the mid 30’s and held that position until Jan, 1959 when he retired. The department voted unanimously to elect Bainum a lifetime honorary member of the Friona Volunteer Fire Department.
Recalling some of the outstanding fires down through the years Bainum says the first fire the organized department fought was the Sylvester Shop across the Santa Fe tracks. A few fires fought by the ten newly organized Friona firemen were a café which was located on main street across from the park, Rockwell Bros. Lumber Yard, Bert Chitwood Gin and Scotty Weir’s 2nd hand store. The largest fire ever fought by the local department at that time was described by Bainum as the Friona High School which was destroyed in the early 50’s.
In 1959, the City of Friona purchased a new fire engine. The new addition brought the local equipment up to date in order to qualify for state insurance law discounts.
Newly elected officers of the Friona Volunteer Fire Department in January, 1959 were Ruben Taylor, Chief; Ralph Shirley, assistant Chief; Jay Sanders, secretary-treasurer; Glenn Reeve, Jr., captain company 1; C.O. Houser, captain company 2, Lee Campbell, lieutenant company 1 and Tommy Jones, lieutenant company 2. There were 33 men on the fire department at that time.
This 1959 truck stayed in Friona until 2000, when it was sold at an auction and purchased by a collector in Altus, Ok.
16 years later this truck was again auctioned. On February 27, 2016, Danny and Holly Campbell drove to Altus, OK., bought the truck and brought it back home where it belongs.