Opened in 1964, Fire Station 1 has served Bozeman for more than 50 years. But the end of an era is fast approaching for the station which has seen the city grow all around it. Now its firefighters get ready to make the move up the street and reflect on their years at Bozeman’s oldest fire station.
“I’ve seen Bozeman grow from a small ranching community to a metropolis as it's going these days and it's definitely increased the challenges,” says Fire Marshal Scott Mueller.
Fifty-eight years ago, Station 1 opened, replacing the old fire station in the old Opera house on the corner of Rouse and Main. Soon, Station 1 will close its doors, moving down the street into the new Bozeman Safety Center.
“It’ll just be out of a new building; I’ll take all the memories with me. I think the building will allow us to serve into the future of Bozeman better, it’ll be sad to leave but I’m excited to have some new space,” said Battalion Chief Travis Barton.
The building was once home to the Police Department and the old jail is still in the basement. Just past the jail, there is a tunnel that could get to the old city hall further down Rouse.
Down in the basement, there’s also the original boiler which the men and women who work in the building have come to tell many stories about.
“[It’s] actually hot in the winter and cold in the summer in the basement. The boiler will be 95 degrees in the basement most of the winter, we’ve had to have the windows open- we call it the men with hammers that when the heat comes on the pipes are banging and you’re like, I don’t know if the steam is going to stay in the pipe, so we make it through a winter one year at a time,” said Barton.
As they walk through the halls past the old pictures of Bozeman’s first firemen, today’s crew reflects on how the job has changed.
“At some point, I think things were simpler back then but could easily be tougher also because maybe you’re relying on horses to move the engine or making sure you have enough coal to heat the boiler or to keep it going, not that we don’t worry about making sure we have fuel in the tanks, but it’s just different,” said Mueller.
One thing remains the same: the relationships built on the job.
“You spend a third of your life with the people you work with here and the bond you create, the bond you create is like nothing else in the world,” said Barton.
The firefighters of Station 1 will take those bonds with them to the new firehouse, a move they look forward to, but they will miss this place—especially for its location.
“It is a part of the downtown community and over all my years being [here] we had open houses during the Christmas Stroll. During those bigger downtown events we were part of this, and being down the street now we’ll be a little more removed and not so much a part of that,” said Mueller.
The engines will make the move and the doors will close as move-in to the Public Safety Center begins on August 29.