History of the Department

Our History

The Chowchilla Volunteer Fire Department began operating as an organized department on November 18, 1926, under the direction of Fire Chief Ray Strope when the first set of by-laws were drafted. It is unknown how many years the department operated prior to its official organization.

The newly formed department had one fire engine believed to be a hand-me-down from Madera County. It has been said that the standard operating procedure at the time was to drive the fire engine to the fire and park it. The firefighters would then run into the building and remove as much furniture as possible before the roof would cave in, then exit the building any way possible (door or window).

Ray Strope, as believed, was the first Fire Chief of the Chowchilla Volunteer Fire Department followed by Boyd Burch, Dee Taylor, Cecil Murrain, Paul Allen, Frank Borba, Dean Kammerdiener, Frank Borba (2nd term), Jeeter Carr, Harry Turner, and current Fire Chief Fred Gaumntz. The longest term to date for any Fire Chief in Chowchilla was held by Cecil Murrain, who held the position for 24 years.

Most Years of ServiceFrank Borba at the Dedication of Fire Station Number 1 in His Honor

The most years of service by anyone volunteer in this department is over 64 years, served by former Fire Chief Frank Borba, who joined the department in 1950. Frank was an active and vital member of the department until his passing in 2014. Fire Station Number 1 is named in honor of Frank Borba for his many years of service to the community through the Chowchilla Fire Department.