History of the Humble Fire Rescue
On December 11, 1935, the Humble Volunteer Fire Department was organized with Lee Hartley as the first Fire Chief and P.C. Cezeaux as Assistant Chief. The first piece of apparatus was a one-half ton Ford pickup. On July 31, 1937, the Fire Department took delivery on their first piece of real firefighting equipment. It was a 1937 Ford Seagrave, 500 GPM, single-stage pumper with a 100-gallon water tank, purchased for $2,433.33. This apparatus has been refurbished and remains in use for parades.
The Women’s Auxiliary Club of Humble was organized in 1939. The purpose of the Auxiliary was to assist the Volunteer Fire Department in its Public Safety Program. Mrs. Gertrude Whitney was elected President, Mrs. Margaret Randow Vice President, and Mrs. Daye Scott Secretary and Treasurer.
During their tenure as an Auxiliary with the Humble Volunteer Fire Department, the Club participated in drives to raise funds for a new fire truck and the building of a new Humble Community Hall which was completed in 1940. They took First Aid courses and training in civilian fire defense after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and acted as block wardens during World War II. The Auxiliary disbanded around 1950.
In 1943, Fire Chief Melvin Randow retired from his position and Assistant Chief A.C. Whitney was promoted to head the department. W.E. Gray was promoted to Assistant Chief, at that time, and stayed for nearly a decade before retiring; Lawrence “Bo” Clark was then promoted to Assistant Chief.
The next piece of equipment was purchased in 1958 when the delivery was taken on a 1957 Howe, mounted on a two-ton Chevrolet chassis. The receipt of this piece of equipment created a housing shortage for the Fire Department, as the Fire Station was in the Harris County building on Main Street, which also housed the Library, City Hall, and the Jail.
In 1961 construction was begun on a plot of land that had been donated for a new Fire Station just west of the downtown area. This location drew some opposition from the citizens of Humble due to the fact that it was located across the railroad tracks from the main business district. Much of the labor was furnished by the firemen themselves to help keep down the expenses. The City completed the construction and utilized the front part as the City Hall until a new City Hall could be built in 1969.
In 1968 the City did something that had never been done before, they hired a full-time Fire Chief when Chief A.C. Whitney retired. Assistant Chief Lawrence “Bo” Clark was hired on as the first paid Fire Department head for the City of Humble. They recognized the need to move forward and become progressive with their fire prevention/suppression. That same year, the Fire Department also took delivery of a 1967 Seagrave mounted on an International Chassis.
City Hall moved their offices out in 1969, and the Fire Department had a station to themselves for the first time. However, this independence was short-lived as the Police Department took quarters in the station in 1970 and until February of 1974 occupied that space. Finally, after 39 years, the Fire Department had a place of its own.
Late in 1974, Station No.2 was completed on Wilson Road, thus enabling the Department to house trucks on both sides of the railroad tracks, making the concerned citizens happy, and the decision was made to promote, back into the fold, an Assistant Chief rank. B.W. McCaa was promoted to this rank in 1975. Chief Clark wanted it to stay a volunteer position and have it rotate every couple of years to keep new ideas flowing through the command staff.
In 1976 The department recognized the need for both growth and specialty apparatus, to combat the growing needs in the City for fire suppression and rescue services. Over that year and the next, the department purchased a 1976 Pierce 60′ “Telesquirt” aerial waterway truck, and a 1977 Chevrolet box van that was converted into a light rescue vehicle. It carried tools and equipment needed for rescue and rehabilitation. Later in 1977, the department also purchased a 1977 Pierce fire engine, to add to its fleet of apparatus. Also, in 1977 Max Cullum was named the new Assistant Chief.
Over the next several years, the department moved through a handful of Assistant Chiefs. Byron Calfee served as Assistant Chief from 1979 through 1980, Scott Mittlestedt served from 1981 through 1982, James “Jimmy” Rollins served from 1983 through 1984.
In 1984 the department made two more purchases, a 1984 Pierce Arrow fire engine and a 1984 Chevrolet custom truck that was converted into a mobile breathing air filler, a cascade truck. Also that year, the city approved the beginning of a trend that would grow throughout the years, full-time firefighters. Then in 1985, with the growth of the City and steadily increasing calls for service, the City approved Chief Clark’s request to hire on a full-time Assistant Fire Chief; Al Taska was promoted to the position.
In 1989 the construction of a new station 1 was beginning and it was decided to merge the Fire department and the EMS department together, under one roof, with one command structure. Ken Pickett was the director of EMS for the City and became the first Assistant Chief of EMS for the department. This was the birth of the current command structure that we have today.
In 1990, Chief Clark retired and the city hired Randall Nordin from the City of Galena Park Fire Department to come in and take the reins of the department, during his tenure of 2 years, Chief Nordin purchased a new incident command / heavy rescue truck. It was a 1992 Spartan Gladiator – Supervac Rescue Truck.
Longtime member and former Assistant Chief Max Cullum was hired on as the next Fire Chief, once Chief Nordin left the department in 1992. Chief Cullum purchased two new fire engines while he was Fire Chief. He got a 1996 Pierce Saber Pumper, and a 2000 American LaFrance – Eagle Rescue Pumper. Assistant Chief Ken Pickett retired in 1998 and Mike Legoudes was hired from West University Place Fire Department, to come in and take on the Assistant Chief of EMS role, and was challenged with updating and creating progress for or medical service.
Chief Cullum passed away in 2002, from cancer, and Captain Gary Outlaw was promoted to Fire Chief. Over the next 16 years, Chief Outlaw and his two Assistant Chiefs (Taska and Legoudes) purchased several new apparatus, including a 2008 Ferrara Ignitor Pumper, a 2014 Ferrara MVP Rescue Pumper, a 2017 Ford F550-Frazer Custom Cascade / Light Rescue vehicle, and a handful of replacement ambulances from Frazer to update the ambulance fleet to modern mobile intensive care units. Chief Outlaw also started hiring part-time employees to supplement the full-time staff, he integrated the Fire / EMS staff into all cross-trained Firefighter / Paramedics and he, in 2015, created three new positions in the department, called Shift Commanders. These individuals would lead the Captain and the other 7 Firefighter / Paramedics on-duty throughout the shifts they were assigned to and act as Incident Commanders, for large scenes.
In 2018, Deputy Chief David J. Langenberg, from the Village Fire Department, was hired to be Fire Chief. Chief Langenberg is very progressive and had big plans for the department. He changed the name of the department to Humble Fire Rescue to more accurately describe the job duties of the department, no longer just being a fire suppression agency. He changed the patch of the department, the uniforms, the schedule that the firefighter-paramedics work from a 24/48 to a 48/96, created a set of guidelines and policies, started firefighter/paramedic led committees, updated the department’s physical standards, he began an accreditation process to get the agency recognized nationally, replaced the aging fleet with new more modern ambulances and fire suppression apparatus, built a new more appropriately located fire station to replace Station 2, created the ranks of Lieutenant, Driver / Operator, Logistics Officer, Training Officer, changed the Shift Commanders to Battalion Chiefs, and hired 9 new positions. The department grew by 30% to try and meet the exponentially growing demand for calls for service.
The fire service is ever-changing and ever-growing; so should we.
The current fire department staff can be seen here.