The Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department (CFVFD) has a long and successful record for providing fire and emergency medical services to the citizens of northwest Harris County. From its beginnings in the late 1950's, the Cy-Fair VFD is now one of the largest, busiest volunteer Fire Departments in the United States, with over 15,000 emergency responses each year. CFVFD covers the 155-square mile area of Emergency Services District (ESD) #9 in northwest Harris County. Responding from 12 stations strategically located throughout the territory; the 300+ men and women of the Department are among the best-trained and equipped firefighters and EMT's in the nation.
The Beginning, 1955-1962
In the late 1950’s, the Cypress area was served by the Jersey Village, Houston, and Fairbanks Fire Departments. After a home was destroyed by fire due to a 20-minute response time by the first unit, the need for a closely located fire department became apparent. Recognizing the need, the Cypress Civic Club held a meeting to check into the Fairbanks Fire Department. In 1961, the Fairbanks Fire Department charter was changed to become the Cypress-Fairbanks Volunteer Fire Department. As fire coverage needs grew in the Cypress area, the department charter was again changed in 1962 to become the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department. The department went through another change in 1980 when an 80 sq mile section of Cy-Fair was charted as the Cypress-Creek Fire department. This area had 18,000 residents and 5000 homes. Sixteen men that were part of Cy-Fair became the Cypress Creek Fire department.
Boosters - In 1972, grass fires were probably the busiest area for the Department and there was a great need for Booster trucks. The Department purchased 4 Chevrolet chassis from Kitzman Chevrolet. Stations 1,2,3, and 5 received the chassis and purchased materials to design and build the grass trucks, with most or all of the work being done by the members themselves. The original grass trucks have been replaced through the years. Boosters are currently housed at Stations 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 11.
Pumpers - Most pumpers until 1972 were built by the members or locally. At that time, the department purchased a 1972 and a 1973 Ward LaFrance Class A engines. The 1972 engine was housed at Station 2. The 1973 engine was housed at Station 3. Up until that time, all units in the Department were Class B pumpers, with ratings less than 500 gpm. These two new units were modern, state-of-the -art Class A pumpers.
In 1976, the Department purchased an American LaFrance and placed it at Station 5. Another American LaFrance was purchased in 1979, which became Engine 1. A mini attack unit was also purchased about this time and was used for several years, by various stations, before being sold.
In 1981, Cy-Fair VFD purchased a new Peter-Pirsch ladder truck. This 75’ stick was first housed at Station 3. Along with the rapid expansion with new stations being built, 2 new Ford LaFrance jump-seat type pumpers were purchased in 1982. After receiving these pumpers, another unit of the same type was purchased in 1984. An ‘83 Spartan Rescue Truck was also acquired during this time.
In 1986, 5 new 1500-gpm General Class A pumpers and a new 3000-gallon International tanker were added to the Department. In 1991, 4 Pierce Class pumpers, an International rescue truck, and a Spartan LTI ladder truck were bought.
New firefighting equipment was not the only equipment added to the Department. Originally, 5 Ford Crown Victoria were purchased to become cars for the Chiefs, along with a 1985 Suburban. There are now 14 Expeditions and 8 trucks in use for Chief Officer response. “Re-Hab 1” was a 1986 van donated by Don Grogg, to the Ladies Auxiliary, for use in 10-17 calls, now they respond in a 2002 F550 made specifically for the Auxiliary. Dozer 3 was added and donated to the department from the Texas Forestry Service. It has since been replaced with a purchased Komatsu dozer that is larger and more versatile. It is transported to scenes with a 2001 FL80 roll-off transporter. The department has a Special Operations trailer for confined space rescues and collapse operations. In addition, the Northwest Chiefs Association funded and established the Mass Casualty Unit in 1987. Also we have a “smoke house” for educational purposes and training.
The Department presently has between 360 and 380 members in twelve stations covering approximately 155 square miles. This is one of the largest volunteer-combination fire departments in the United States.
In the early years, firefighters bought all their own gear. Today, a firefighter is issued full bunker gear, boots, pager, badge, uniform shirts, and duty shirts. Cost to outfit a firefighter with bunker gear, boots and pager is approximately $1,300.
In 1971, the need was justified for some type of additional first aid for the area. Graham Ambulance Service, located in Spring Branch, and the City of Houston were serving the community at this time.
A vehicle was purchased to be built-out as an equipment truck for first aid. A chassis was bought from Kitzman Chevrolet and taken to Koenig to have a box built on the back. Later the members added some stainless steel cabinets for extra equipment. The vehicle was housed at the Chief’s home since he was EMS-certified. There were not too many EMS-certified people in the Department then.
Cy-Fair VFD became involved in the ambulance business about 1980. Cameron Iron Works (now Wymann Gordon) purchased the first unit and donated it to the Department. The Department went on to purchase another used unit, a 1979 Ford module unit.
Later CFVFD purchased two new 1981 Ford van-type units for Station 5 and 10. In 1983, the Department bought the first Wheel Coach module. Additional units of this type were bought and have replaced some of the early units. With this fleet of ambulances, the EMS program grows stronger each year. Initially, the ambulances were staffed with all volunteer crews. Later, the two primary ambulances were manned with paid crews at nights. Now with the funding from Harris County ESD #9, 10 ambulances are staffed with paid crews 24 hours a day and these are staffed at the ALS level with Paramedics.
The Department has had few Fire Chiefs in its 25 years. The first Fire Chief was Chief John Morgan, who was also the first Board President. Charlie Radcliffe, a Houston firefighter, became Fire Chief around 1965. Chief Radcliffe served more years than any other Chiefs to date. In the late 1970’s he stepped down for one year to let Stanley Hubbard serve a one year term of office. In 1981 Jack Fry was elected Chief. In the spring of 1982, he and his Assistant Chief resigned. The Board of Directors appointed then-District Chief Harry Cull to finish this term. In 1983, Chief Cull was elected to serve his own term until the fall of 1985, when he resigned. His Assistant Chief, Glenn Gates, finished his term and continued to serve as Chief until 1990. Marc Hudson from station 3 was elected and served for one term 1990-1992. Chief J.C. Marshall from station 8 was elected in 1992 and served till 2002. Chief Joe Davis from station seven was elected in 2002 and in 2009 became the departments first full-time Fire Chief.
Board Of Directors
In the beginning, the department had no Board of Directors. The department was run on donations from the surrounding community. In late 1962, it was decided that the donations needed to be better managed. The Board of Directors was created for that purpose. They rotated their monthly meetings from station to station until about 1967 when they moved the meetings to VFW Hall on Hempstead Highway. Meetings were held at the VFW Hall until 1983. One of the biggest fund raisers was the annual Bar-B-Que. The last “Annual Bar-B-Que” was held in October 1985 just before the Department began receiving tax dollars from the community. Today, in addition to tax dollars, Cy-Fair VFD receives money from the ESD and through donations (MUD water bills). The Board, consisting of officers and station-appointed members, currently meet at the Business Office once a month to conduct board business. The ESD and offices of the board meet the following Thursday to approve necessary items funded by the ESD. Each Station elects one member to serve as Director. The Board President and Vice President is elected by the general membership every two years.