The Atlanta Fire Rescue Department dates back to February 2, 1848, when the Atlanta City Council formed a committee to investigate a fire problem in the brand new town. Only a week later, residents were ordered to have fire buckets in their homes. It would take three more years and several serious fires before the Georgia General Assembly would approve a bill authorizing the formation of Atlanta Fire Company No. 1, which went into service on March 25, 1851. In 1852, fire cisterns were constructed in several areas downtown. The state legislature again provided assistance to the fire service by requiring buildings to have a short ladder and two fire buckets onsite.
The original Fire Station 3 was organized in 1859 downtown. The
current station is in the parking deck at Phipp's Plaza.
Citizens, obtaining city and state charters, formed four separate fire companies. By early 1860, the City Council requested that the four companies combine and form one fire department. On January 20, 1860, all four companies were placed under one command structure.
The Civil War and the burning of Atlanta in 1864 devastated the small volunteer fire department. Union forces seized and/or destroyed all fire apparatus in the city. Atlanta remained an all-volunteer department until July 1, 1882, when the six remaining volunteer stations were dissolved and the Atlanta Fire Department began with three paid fire stations.
Atlanta firefighters have battled several major conflagrations over the years, including multi-fatality fires like the Winecoff Hotel and the Baptist Towers blazes. These tragic events led to significant changes in fire safety codes, both within the city and nationally. Many of the changes enhanced fire safety in the United States and throughout the world.
From the volunteer days to the professional paid department, the fire service in Atlanta has a rich history in saving lives and protecting property. From humble beginnings, the Atlanta Fire Department, now the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, has grown into today's professional organization.