Bethany Fire History & Retired Firefighters' Association
The Bethany Volunteer Fire Department was organized on December 1, 1926.
The first members department were Chief Charles Jernigan, Paul Jernigan, WB Owens, JD Dallas, JM Cunningham, KS White, WL Street, John Stockton, LI Martindale, Ross Biggers, FH Stockton, CA Wallace AB Johnson, JC House and Alonzo Norwood.
The original equipment the department used included two hand pulled hose carts and a few hundred feet of fire hose that was purchased through the sale of water. One of those hose carts is on display in front of the current Bethany Fire Station.
In 1934, one of those hand carts was extensively overhauled and modified, and the first motorized fire wagon was put into service.
The department's first "new" fire truck was purchased in 1941.
The original Fire Station was located on North Asbury. It burned in 1947, which received national news coverage.
Fire Chief Jim Smith became the first full-time paid employee of the City of Bethany Fire Department, in 1951. The station was operated with the Chief (paid) and volunteers and college students who lived in the station. The students volunteered as fire fighters in exchange for room and board.
In 1954, new fire apparatus, two-way radios and more paid personnel were all added to the department.
The current fire station was built in 1964. It cost approximately $115,000 and was funded through a bond passed by the citizens. The design won a prestigious award form the American Institute of Steel Construction.
Volunteers began to be phased out in exchange for paid personnel. The last volunteer, Darwyn Coody, retired in 1969.
In 1971 the Fire Department was thriving. There were 28 full time personnel, the most the department has seen in it's history. These men worked with 4 pumper apparatus, 1 aerial truck, 2 brush trucks, 1 rescue unit and a Chief's vehicle. That same year, Bethany Fire Department became the first in Oklahoma to put large diameter hose into service. This 5" hose was capable of delivering up to 2,000 gallons of water per minute in fire suppression operations.
Bethany Fire was reduced to 26 full time personnel in 1984. A Deputy Chief position was added, and we purchased our first set of "Jaws of Life" that year.
In 1989, Bethany Fire became the first fire department in Oklahoma to achieve 100% certification in Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT Basic). The department also was the first to be 100% certified in EMT-D (Automatic External Defibrillator) a few years later.
The department was downsized once again in 2005, bringing personnel to 23 full time employees. This is the current level of manpower today.
The Bethany Fire Department strives to be progressive in fire service in Oklahoma and continues to pursue this by incorporating new and exciting techniques that aid in delivering the latest and best care available in the Emergency Medical and Response field.
In 2016, through the generosity of Bethany's citizens, the Department was able to purchase a 2015 Ferrara MVP 2000 GPM Pumper and a 2016 Ferrara 77' Ladder Truck. These two trucks replaced vehicles over 20 years old.
We have plans to purchase a new brush truck in 2020. The new vehicle will replace the current 2001 model.
Today, the men of the Bethany Fire Department provide the best and most current level of emergency medical care, along with firefighting skills to aid our citizens in their times of need. The department currently responds to roughly 3,200 calls throughout the year serving our community day and night.
Bethany Fire Chiefs Past to Present
- 1926-1929: Charles Jernigan
- 1929-1933: Joyce Johnson
- 1933-1935: ES Pickens
- 1935-1949: Earl Harris
- 1949-1960: Jim Smith
- 1960-1971: EU "Blackie" Norris
- 1971-1983: Ed Hogan
- 1983-1994: Tom Barnett
- 1994-2005: Eddie P Hogan
- 2005-2008: David Beck
- 2008-2014: Scott Schroder
- 2017-2018: SR Hunter
- 2018-Present: Shaum Jennings
Bethany Retired Firefighter's Association
Each year, the Bethany Retired Firefighter's Association holds a gathering at the Bethany Fire Station to allow members to reconnect and reminisce about their years working for the Bethany Fire Department.
Pictured below, L-R: Jim "Charlie" Michael (deceased); Joe Nance (deceased); Jim Robertson (deceased); Merrill Scott; Milton Hoskins (deceased); Carl Lightner; Darwyn Goody (deceased); Gary Degroot; Howard Van Sickle; David Beck.