History of the Department
McLane Fire and Life Safety History
McLane Fire and Life Safety has proudly served the residents of the fire district for over 50 years. The Fire District was first organized in 1950 by Ira Williamson, owner of Hadees Grocery store at Mud Bay. Mr. Williamson, with the support of friends and neighbors, formed the McLane Volunteer Fire Department in December 1950. McLane's first fire engine was a 1941 Ford purchased for $1.00 from McChord Air Force Base on February 25, 1951. This first engine had served as an Air Force Crash truck in Hawaii before being shipped to Fort Lewis as surplus before eventually finding its new home serving the residents of McLane.
The second fire engine purchased was a 1941 Ford 5-yard dump truck obtained from the Washington State Forest Service for $850.00. The dump truck was of no use to the department, so a Mack truck was purchased with the intention of combining the pieces of equipment together to make a tanker (referred to today as a tender). With the help of Mr. Zeigler from Ziegler's Welding Shop in Olympia, the two trucks were cut in half behind the cabs, then the back of the Mack was welded onto the front half of the Ford. When completed, this 800 gallon tender was affectionately referred to as the "MacFord".
Black Lake Fire Department History
In the summer of 1952, businessmen in the area decided their area needed a fire department. The other departments in the area were responding to fires in the vicinity as quickly as possible, but as with all emergencies, arrival time was critical. The men raised money and bought a fire engine. Because they had no fire station, the engine was kept at a garage which today is the Black Lake Grocery. The Chief of the Tumwater Fire Department helped to get the engine ready for the new department, which became known as the Black Lake Volunteer Fire Department. In 1961, a formal fire district was established and the name changed to Black Lake Fire Protection District No. 5. The district was now receiving tax funds and was able to build a small, steel framed two-bay fire station at the corner of Sapp Rd and Belmore.
The department's first "aid unit" was an older panel truck. In 1974, the members hand-built their first transport-capable aid car to resemble those units in service with Thurston County Medic One; 1-ton Ford Econoline box vans that were converted into ambulances.
In 1975, the Chief offered specialized training to the volunteers and incorporated emergency accident and medical rescue operations along with firefighting to better serve the residents of the District. This again as a first, District 5 became one of the first fire departmetns in Thurston County to provide emergency medical service (EMS). The first Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) course taught in the county had the Chief and several Fire District 5 volunteers as students. In 1977, the district bought its first ambulance and EMS became a regular level of service to the community. In 1979, the fire district employed their first career firefighter; Fire Chief Lyall Smith. Under Smith's leadership, the department continued to flourish with progressive training and equipment. Chief Smith saw the need in the late 90s for an improved response to emergencies, and built a Resident Program for the headquarters station where firefighters lived in the fire station and could quickly respond to emergencies.
As the area grows and more people move into the District, services will continue to change and the department will continue to grow. However, the District has a proud past and we will never forget those dedicated folks who provided the solid foundation for what the department has become today.
McLane Black Lake Fire Department History
In January 2008, McLane Fire and Life Safety entered into a contractual consolidation with Black Lake Fire Department. The consolidation provided the opportunity to reduce administrative positions and enjoy economies of scale for purchasing - resulting in a more efficient, cost effective organization.
In 2014, the Washington Survey and Rating Bureau reevaluated the fire protection capabilities of the department. Following their review, both districts were awarded a lower Public Protection Classification of 5 - a significant improvement in their ratings which resulted in lower insurance premiums for the citizens of the district.