Panhandle Spirit: AFD history comes alive at Visitor Center
AMARILLO, Texas —
What do these things have in common—the World Trade Center, country music legend Roger Miller, and a monkey in a tree?
They all have connections to the Amarillo Fire Department, and are featured in their Visitor Center at the Central Fire Station.
Dana Havlik, District Chief of Training at Amarillo Fire, is also the curator of this mini museum, which has several items highlighting the changes in technology over the years. It includes a ticker was activated when someone pulled a lever on one of the bright red fire alarm boxes that were on streetlight poles all over the city.
“Firefighters at the station had to memorize box numbers in their district, so when the alarm came in, it came in as a box number. When someone needed to report a fire, they would run to the nearest box, they’d pull the alarm, and the firefighters would come to that general vicinity and hope the person that pulled the alarm was still there, so that they could direct them to the fire,” Havlik said.
There are also two sections of a steel beam from the World Trade Center, which was added in 2011.
“One of our firefighters built the stands that they’re displayed on, which is built to look like the Twin Towers, the way they’re designed. And that’s a display and reminder of the largest loss of life in one day for the fire service,” he said.
Roger Miller’s picture is on display, along with his application to join the force. Before he made it big as a singer, he was a firefighter here for about three months. Havilk says the record showed he missed a couple of fire calls, thanks to too many late nights performing at the clubs, so they let him go.
There are log books in the collection, dating back to 1897. Havlik found the entry about the monkey in one from the 50’s
“A crew responded out over in the Wolflin area to get a monkey out of a tree, and they used like 200 gallons of water. They basically washed the monkey out of the tree. And that’s typical. We get called for nearly anything so it was kinda funny to see that.”
Havlik says he’s eager to expand their collection, and encourages anyone who has any pictures or items related to AFD’s history to contact him at the Central Fire Station.