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June 1, 2010 > History: The fire departments in Union City

History: The fire departments in Union City

By Myrla Raymundo

Alvarado Fire Department:
Founded in 1905, the Alvarado Volunteer Fire Department was created in 1906. The Alvarado Fire Station went through several building stages; engine bays were built in l943, a front office followed in l948 and sleeping quarters were completed in l962.

Firefighters assigned to this station were an "all volunteer" company until l964. During that period, Fire Chief Elvin Rose lived approximately one block away from the station. To contact the Fire Department, a citizen would call the number assigned to the firehouse, which would ring at the Chief's house. He would then push a button to activate the siren on the rooftop of the firehouse, summoning the volunteer firefighters. However, citizens could use another method: a button located on the front of the firehouse could be pushed to activate the siren on the rooftop as well.

In l964, Union City had enough firefighters to assure that the Alvarado Station was manned full-time by city staff, so the volunteer department was disbanded. The firehouse was closed in l984, and remained empty for several years until a Union City Police Officer rented it from the City to use as his residence. When the officer moved away from Union City, the building remained empty until the Union City Historical Museum occupied it in 2001.


Decoto Fire Department:
In 1925, the Decoto Volunteer Fire Department was formed. The Decoto Fire District was formed as a special district with the purpose of providing fire service to a major portion of the land, which is now part of Union City.

The Decoto Fire District was located in an unincorporated area of Alameda County approximately 12 miles south of Oakland, 17 miles north of San Jose, and just east of and contiguous to Mission Boulevard. Land to the southwest was used primarily for residential development. To the east and south of the district, properties were undeveloped and used for grazing and limited row crop farming. To the north, the East Bay Regional Parks District was to be developed as part of Garin Regional Park property.

In 1959, the Decoto Fire District was transferred to Union City. The district covered approximately 2,700 acres of land in the hills east of Mission Boulevard. Since that time, incorporation of the City and annexations by Union City and Hayward have reduced the area of the District to 1,766 acres.

The Fire Protection Districts of Alvarado and Decoto merged in 1959 and became an integral part of Emergency Services for Union City. Under the direction of Chief Kenneth Garcia, the Fire Department expanded and a new fire station in the central district became a reality. When Chief Ken Garcia retired in 1985, Chief Mike Vonada was hired.

In 1994, Union City decided to merge their Fire Department with the Fremont Fire Department to save money. In 2000, the Union City Fire Department was re-established, and responsible for providing fire and life safety emergency services in the City of Union City. Chief Chris Maxwell played a major role in re-establishing the Union City Fire Department after the department's six-year absence. Firefighters had to be hired, equipment purchased and a new fire station had to be built.

Dedication of the new Fire Station No. 4 was held in September 29, 2001. Top of the line features of the new Fire Station included: a lobby, apparatus bay for two units, spacious day room, dining room, four dormitories, men's locker room, turnout room, laundry room, patio with barbecue, health screening room, Captain's/Reception Room, nine storage areas, phone booth, and community meeting room.

Presently, Union City has four Fire Stations serving the community. Fire Station No. 1 is located at Central Avenue, Fire Station No. 2 is located in the Alvarado District, Fire Station No. 3 "the green building" is located in the Decoto District, and Fire Station No. 4 is located at 35000 Eastin Court.

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