In 1955 the Austin Fire Department created a 12 page pamphlet describing life at Austin’s Central Fire Station #1. Our current Central Fire Station #1, located at 401 E. 5th St. in downtown Austin, was built in 1938 and replaced the Old Central Fire Station (1885) at 114 W. 8th St. When it opened, Centrals was described as one of the most modern fire stations in The United States in a 1945 Fire Engineering Magazine article. Its Art Deco style and street corner location with truck bays facing two different streets made the station stand out as a model design. The fire station is a two-story structure that originally had the Fire Chief’s office, dispatcher’s alarm room, and day-room downstairs. Today, the area that originally housed the Fire Chief’s office and alarm office is occupied by Austin-Travis County EMS Medic 6. The day-room is still used by the firefighters as a TV and training room. The upstairs portion of the station is still very similar to its 1938 design, although it has been slightly expanded and remodeled over the years. There are two brass fire poles that lead from pole closets in the dormitory and are commonly referred to as Engine 1 or Engine 50′s pole due to their location. Of the 45 fire stations in Austin, only Station 1 and Station 2 have fire poles.
In 1962, an annex was built on the eastern side of Centrals to accommodate the need for a Fire Department Headquarters. The Fire Chief’s office, Alarm office, and administrative support staff occupied the Central Annex well into the 1980′s. Today, the front part of the Annex is home to the Austin Fire Museum and the rest of the annex is occupied by the AFD Shift Commander and extra storage room.
Various different apparatus have been assigned to Central Fire Station #1 over the years, but a few constants have remained. Centrals has always had at least two engine companies and one truck company assigned to it as well as some sort of Chief Officer position. Currently the name and number designation of the assigned units are Engine 1, Engine 50, Quint 1, and the AFD Division Chief Shift Commander. The crews of E1, E50, and Q1 also comprise of the AFD Special Operations team that has specialized training in Swiftwater and Search and Rescue.