by Pete DiMaria
Fire Chief Naples Fire and Rescue Department
The City of Naples Fire-Rescue Department was founded in 1935 when City Council named Cale Jones as its first fire chief. Fire Chief Jones was able to organize an all-volunteer fire and rescue squad. The delivery of a new fire engine in 1935 marked the first fire apparatus in our city’s history.
Chief Jones was one of the few people in town with access to a phone. Calls for service came directly into Chief Jones’ home and he would walk the streets and alert the volunteers of a fire.
Prior to the fire station being built, the new fire apparatus would respond out of Chief Jones’ home at 144 10th Avenue South. vThe first official fire station was built in 1945; it was located next to Naples’ first vpolice station and jail on the corner of 8th Avenue South and 8th Street South.
This station housed Engine Co. 1 and was where the volunteers gathered for pinochle, as they awaited a phone call requesting assistance. In the 1970s, the fire station underwent renovations and administrative offices were added where the jail once was.
In 1994, the nearly 50-year old fire station was worn down and in need of significant maintenance and repair. This, combined with the need for more space, triggered city council and fire and rescue to rebuild a larger more efficient station for operations personnel.
The fire administrative personnel were merged with Naples Police forming the Naples Police and Emergency Services Department. City council later identified the value of two separate departments and in 2011 separated police and fire and rescue departments.
The Naples Fire and Rescue Department has evolved into a full career, dynamic emergency response agency with an all-hazards approach towards meeting the community’s needs.
Naples Fire and Rescue Department is an ISO Class 1 department that responds to more than 6,000 incidents per year requiring a mixed use of technical skills to compliment the delivery of conventional firefighting and emergency medical services.
Due to the higher demand for fire and rescue services and the poor quality of the 1994 constructed building city council approved the building of a newfacility.
The request would be threefold, new administrative offices for fire-rescue staff, a new Fire Station No. 1 for fire operations personnel and a new state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center (EOC). This new EOC enables the City of Naples to operate through hurricanes and other potential large-scale emergencies and disasters.
The new facility would be incorporated into a Category 5 building above the 100-year FEMA floodplain; giving the City of Naples the critical infrastructure it had long needed. This new public safety building would be placed on its original and long-term location on 8th Avenue South.
On February 15, 2018, the City of Naples had a groundbreaking ceremony for the new project. Members of city council and city management staff, as well as past fire-rescue department chief officers and retirees attended.
The fire-rescue department has much gratitude for city council and community support in making this import project a reality.