History and Heritage
Owasso Fire Dept Origin of Maltese Cross
Organized fire fighting began in the city of Owasso in 1948. The establishment of the city fire department was preceded by the Owasso Community Fire Department, which was incorporated in June 1952. The Owasso Community Fire Department Board Members included Harry Worley, J.R. Glasgow, B.R. Green, R.O. Coonfied and W.E. Rice. The Owasso Community Fire Departments first Fire Chief was Harry Worley.
In 1965 the City took over the fire department and moved the station to Broadway and Main Street. This two bay station housed the city’s first new 1965 Ford Boardman pumper and a Dodge Power wagon wild land vehicle. Prior to the Boardman pumper, the fire department was operated with a 1946 Ford pumper, 1946 Dodge Truck, and a 1955 dodge truck.
Mr. and Mrs. Tom Johnson answered the phones to dispatch the fire department to emergencies. However, in the event the Johnsons were not home, a switch was installed outside the local shoe store that the Johnsons owned. This allowed other personnel to report a fire and sound an alarm. In addition, cards were printed with names and phone numbers, including Tom Johnsons, and five drivers.
In Owasso in 1970 approximately 17 fire hydrants were serviced by the fire department, compared to the approximately 1,700 fire hydrants serviced by the fire department in the district today. In February 1973 the proposed Owasso civic building (currently fire station #2), housing all primary functions of city government came before voters. The building is located at 207 S. Cedar. In 1974 the transition of a combination volunteer/paid fire department occurred with Bob Baker being the first paid Fire Marshal. Vernon Chase was appointed as the first paid Fire Chief effective July 1976. He was with the city since February 1976 and had 20 years experience through military services as a fireman. In August 1976 the first proposal was made that the Owasso Fire Department take over the ambulance service from Moore Funeral Chapel. Moore had stopped providing the ambulance service due to the high cost.
In 1976, Owasso began to make plans for its first 24 hour ambulance service. The first fire station was located at 12 N. Main. The fire station located at 207 S Cedar (currently fire station 2) was built in 1974. In 1994 it was closed and relocated to 8901 N. Garnett Rd. In 2001 the fire department became a fully paid department with no volunteers. Station 2 was later remodeled and opened again in June 2005 as the department continued to grow.
Today the Owasso Fire Department provides fire suppression over approximately 42 square miles and medical services over approximately 76 square miles. There are three manned fire stations, staffed with fourteen firefighters on each of the three shifts. Firefighters work a 24 hour tour of duty and 48 hours off duty.
Origin of Maltese Cross
When a courageous band of crusaders known as the Knights of St. John, fought the Saracens for possession of the holy land, they encountered a new weapon unknown to European warriors. It was a simple, but a horrible device of war, it wrought excruciating pain and agonizing death upon the brave fighters for the cross. The Saracen's weapon was, fire.
As the crusaders advanced on the walls of the city, they were struck by glass bombs containing naphtha. When they became saturated with the highly flammable liquid, the Saracens hurled a flaming torch into their midst. Hundreds of the knights were burned alive; others risked their lives to save their brothers-in-arms from dying painful, fiery deaths.
Thus, these men became our first firefighter and the first of a long list of courageous firefighters. Their heroic efforts were recognized by fellow crusaders who awarded each here a badge of honor - a cross similar to the one firefighter's wear today. Since the Knights of St. John lived for close to four centuries on a little island in the Mediterranean Sea named Malta, the cross came to be known as the Maltese Cross.
The Maltese Cross is your symbol of protection. It means that the firefighter who wears this cross is willing to lay down his life for you just as the crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow man so many years ago. The Maltese Cross is a firefighter's badge of honor, signifying that he works in courage - a ladder rung away from death.
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