There were no major fires for the first 20 years of Mesa, as houses and buildings were built far apart from one another.
As Main Street became more developed, structures were built closer together, making for dangerous times.
The first major fire in Mesa was in October 1898, destroying grocery and furniture stores. A thick brick wall saved Main Street from being totally engulfed in flames. As the city grew, fires occurred more often, dictating the need for an organized fire department.
The first (unofficial) fire chief in Mesa was William Austin Burton, who was also the local constable and mortician. Burton was credited with building the first fire department.
Mesa’s official fire department was created in 1919. Jack Sullivan was the first paid fire chief. By 1929, Mesa had 25 alarm boxes installed around the city and a steel water tank to supply the fire hydrants. By 1940, there were two full-time firefighters, a fire chief, an assistant chief, and 14 volunteer firefighters.
Now known as Mesa Fire and Medical Department, it boasts 427 sworn personnel and 113 civilian personnel. There are 25 stations and 24 fire engines in Mesa.