On April 28, 1921, local property owners in Palm Springs gathered to discuss the urgent need for fire protection. The committee concluded that a five-dollar donation from each of the fifty-eight properties would raise the 850 dollars needed for a hose cart for fire protection. Not all fifty-eight properties supported the need, none-the-less, the committee raised the 850 dollars and the cart was purchased. The Hose cart was stored at a shed on the corner of Andreas and Palm Canyon. This cart along with twelve volunteers and an electrical siren (current location of the Desert Inn Fashion Plaza) formed the foundation of the Palm Springs Fire Department. Fire Chief Otto Adler led the Fire Department for the town.
Ten years later, on February 18, 1931, a fire destroyed Connell‘s Grocery Store located on 220 North Indian Canyon Drive, despite a valiant effort from the volunteers to stop the blaze. Following this incident, many people in the city grew increasingly concerned that the town’s fire protection was insufficient and ill-equipped. The following day, future Mayor Frank Shannon raised the 500 dollars necessary for a down payment on the department’s first real fire engine. On March 13, 1931, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors granted a petition to officially form the Palm Springs Fire Protection District. The very next day the Palm Springs Fire Department took delivery of a 1931 American la France 500 gallons per minute (GPM) pumper. In addition to a new engine the first official fire station was approved and construction was completed in 1936. This building was located on Palm Canyon Drive and was known as the Fire Hall. The City of Palm Springs was officially incorporated on April 18, 1938. This led to a change from a fire protection district to a city-operated fire department.
Palms Springs experienced much growth in the years following World War Two. The fire department expanded to match the city’s growth. In 1951, the City opened fire station number two on the corner of Roman and Sunrise (currently Mizell Senior Center). In 1958 the Fire Hall was vacated (currently George’s Alibi Azul Patio) and the current fire station 1 was placed in service on Indian Canyon.
During the 1960s, the leaders of the PSFD determined that there was a need for more advanced training. They attended a formal fire academy with the Los Angeles Fire Department. This knowledge was brought back for the benefit of the entire department. From this point on, formal training academies became the standard for new firefighters. With the anticipation on of opening a third station, the Department held its first official “Rookie Fireman’s school” in 1964. Station 3 opened November 14, 1964 on East Racquet Club Road.
In the 1970s the department grew even larger with construction of Station 4 located on Laverne Way in 1971. A new Station 2 was rebuilt on El Cielo Road attached to the airport in 1976 and would function as the new headquarters for the department. During this time, the department purchased 3 aircraft rescue fire engines to provide fire protection to the Palm Springs Airport which had expanded greatly during the 1950s and 1960s. The department opened Fire Station 5 located at Bolero Road in 1981. Between the 1920s and the 1980s, the population of Palm Springs grew rapidly all while the city developed into a major travel destination. The Palm Springs Fire Department adjusted to this growth and would average about 3500 calls per year in the 1980s.
The Palm Springs Fire Department continues to grow along with the city it serves. In 2016, the Department averaged approximately 10,000 calls for service. Currently the department is staffed with 19 suppression personnel each day. These personnel comprise 4 engines, 1 truck, and Duty Battalion chief. The Palm Spring Fire Department has changed much from the early years, yet still prides itself with providing a high level of service to the public.