They are the silent heroes of this community, and have been since their start here in the 1800s. Firefighters past and present were celebrated July 20 at the ‘Salute to Firefighters’ event hosted by the Fallbrook Historical Society. The promise of family fun brought in a crowd of over 400 people to enjoy the day’s activities.
The historical society presented a slideshow consisting of local heroes’ history, a bagpipe salute by the San Diego County Firefighter Pipes and Drums, and speeches by distinguished guests.
Chief Bill Metcalf of the North County Fire Protection District spoke on the dedication his agency has shown to the community throughout the decades. It continues this legacy he said, “…through the Fire Explorers program and Reserve Firefighters program, both of which target young adults who might be interested in firefighting.”
According to Fallbrook Vintage Car Club President Roy Moosa, up until the mid-1900s firefighting was a community-wide, volunteer-only job. It was not until 1947 that the first fire station was created in Fallbrook, where the Firehouse Broiler restaurant currently stands on Main Avenue.
The slideshow highlighted the volunteer mentality that “is still present in this fire department today,” Metcalf said. The Rainbow station is still fully staffed by volunteers.
The North County Fire Protection District consists of six fire stations, including Rainbow, and covers approximately 100 square miles, protecting about 50,000 people.
Metcalf said, “It is a serious business where people give their lives in order to save others. They go into burning buildings knowing that the structures are going to fall, because they want to help.”
At the end of the program, there was a moment of silence for all those who died while firefighting. “We are eternally grateful to the 19 men in Arizona and all the firefighters that have gone before us,” Metcalf said.
The bagpipes and drums rang out in salute as the ceremony closed.
During the event, children took advantage of getting a close-up look at vintage fire trucks brought in by fire departments from outlying areas. Carlsbad, Escondido, and other towns brought their antique fire trucks for everyone to enjoy. The kids clamored aboard and took pictures with Smokey Bear, while decked out in red fire hats distributed from booths promoting fire prevention.
Free refreshments were provided by the historical society after the program, and entrance was free for the public.
Denise Ector, a Fallbrook area resident, brought her two young boys and infant girl to enjoy the day. She said, “My boys just love the fire trucks, and the firemen are so nice to them. The historical society’s events are always fun for my family.”
Kent Norton, a retired Fallbrook firefighter said that he enjoyed the event because “it is a way to see all the old friends, and the guys you grew up with.”
The Fallbrook Historical Society blended Fallbrook’s firefighter history with present and future ideals to make a memorable ‘Salute to Firefighters.’ The fun-filled day exemplified the community’s gratitude to first responders and was a learning experience too.
The history of firefighters in Fallbrook by Roy Moosa