Newport Fire/EMS History

Newport Fire Early Motor Cars

Timeline of Significant Events


1800's - Beginnings

Horse Drawn Hose Wagon1795 The General Assembly of the Commonweath of Kentucky passed, on December 14th, an act to establish the town of Newport

1800 A typical fire company had eight men, five horses, three hose reels, a ladder truck, 165 fireplugs and 27 signal boxes.

1836 March 9, 1836 the first attempt to establish a fire department by The Town Fathers.

1845 Four Fire Wardens were appointed along with the town leaders to organize and direct citizens who may be present during a fire to help extinguish the fire and protect property.

  Cateract Hose Carriage1851 With approval by the City Commisioners, a fire engie called "Cateract" and a hose         carriage called "Pioneer" was purchased from the Independence Fire Company #2 of       Cincinnati for $500.  Temporary fire quarters were built in the rear of the Court House until a lot   could be secured for a firehouse.


1852 In March, a hose carriage built by J & B Bruse and Company was delivered. Hose was purchased and Samuel Cummins built a fire engine, which was named the “Torrent.”  By this time the County Clerk's office was moved to Alexandria so the decision was made to convet the old Clerk's office to house the new fire department.

1854 On March 15, the fire department was established through incorporation. It was named the Washington Fire Engine and Hose Company No. 1.

1861 Samuel Barber became the first firefighter killed in the line of duty in Northern Kentucky.

1866 After several attempts to build a firehouse, a building contract was issued to P. H. Wilson. Construction, was completed by October 25, 1866 and dedicated November 4, 1866. The building was named “Washington Hall” located at 10 East Fourth Street.

1868 City of Newport Purchased a steam fire engine from Amos Keag Manufacturing which was named Newport No. 1. The equipment cost was $2,189.55 and was housed at 10 East Fourth Street.

1868 June 9, 1868, the City of Newport passed an ordinance that created the first steam fire engine company, establishing the beginning of a paid fire department. Soon after the ordinance passed the volunteer group disbanded. All of their effects were given to the City of Newport and all monies in the treasury were divided among all members in good standing on December 18, 1869.

1872 The City of Newport established a fire-alarm system with boxes at certain intersections. Residents were instructed on proper use of these boxes.

1892 The Clifton German Methodist Mission layed the cornerstone for their new chapel on October 30 in the area of "Lindsey Hill" which later became Clifton.  The chapel was completed and dedicated on May 22, 1893.

1893 The Fire Department installed a telegraph system to better utilize their resources in order to never leave the City of Newport without fire protection.

1894 The Fire Department operated three stations:

Washington Fire Company 1 Late 1800's
Washington Fire Company No. 1 (10 East Fourth Street)

Phoenix Fire Company 2 Late 1800's
 Phoenix Fire Company No. 2 (On Monmouth between 10th and 11th)

Hose Company 3 Late 1800's
 Hose Company No. 3 (On West 7th between Isabella and Patterson)

1896 Fire Department budget amounted to $11,264. (approximately $183,600 in modern currency)

Horse Drawn Fire Wagon

1898 The greatest fire in municipal history occurred on July 20, 1898. It started at the Unnewehr Sawmill in West Newport from unknown causes. The fire eventually destroyed the sawmill and sixteen homes. Intervention by the Covington and Cincinnati Fire Departments kept the fire from spreading and farther. Estimated property losses totaled $100,000 (over $1.6m in modern currency.)

Early 1900's

1904 Firefighter Lee Howe died from injuries received from a vehicle accident while responding to a fire.

1908 June 16, 1908, a coal lamp exploded at 512 East Front Street. Firefighter John Murphy was walking on the roof advancing toward the fire when he stepped into a hole, landing on his back and shoulder. Murphy was bruised all over and one of his ears was torn off. Murphy recovered from his injuries.

NFD 1910 US Motor Truck

1910 It was around this time that Newport Fire Department purchased their first motorized apparatus from the US Motor Truck Company.

NFD Ladder Wagon Wreck

1912 The City of Clifton was incorporated just south of the City of Newport in what was considered a rural area.

1913 In May 1913, the Newport Fire Wagon was racing down Fourth Street when it attempted to make a quick turn onto Columbia Street. One of the horses threw a shoe and fell, knocking the wagon over and tumbling Firefighters Ben Graham and John Mason onto the roadway. Both firefighters recovered from injuries.

Motorized Hose Wagon

1915 A motorized hose wagon was purchased from Schacht Motor Car Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.

1918 On February 28, 1918 the labor organization Local 45 was established.

1918 All horses phased out of the Fire Department. “Old Captain Jim,” the last of Newport’s horses, made his last run in August 1918. Captain Jim had answered over 1,500 alarms over his nineteen years of service.

1919 An Ahrens Fox Model K piston pumper was purchased and placed in service.  The Clifton German Methodist Chapel was purchased by 10 citizens of The Clifton Welfare Association for use as a community center.  The German Mission's numbers were greatly reduced during the onset of the first world war. 

1922 The first ladder wagon was purchased from Ahrens Fox Company. The apparatus was a tiller style ladder truck build by Ahrens Fox and the ladder portion built by the Seagrave Company.  Newport Purchased this apparatus after Cincinnati Fire Department brought over their ladder for a demonstration.

1928 An Ahrens Fox Model N piston pumper was purchased and placed in service.

1930 City of Newport population grew to 29,744.  In January, the City of Clifton officially voted in members to the Clifton Volunteer Fire Department.

1931 January 27, 1931, Firefighter William Wagner fell through a vent hole. He fell only a few feet getting caught in rafters, where he hung until other firefighters could lift him back to the roof.

1932 During the City election, Clifton citizens voted a fire truck bond issue and the council purchased a 500 gallon Mack pumper.  The accessories for the truck were purchased with volunteer funds.

1933 In the fall of 1932, the City of Clifton took over the Community Hall (former chapel) and renovated the building to house the newly formed fire deparment and administrative offices.  The building was dedicated on September 9th, 1933.

1934 During the Great Depression, the labor organization Local 45 had to give up their charter for financial reasons.

1935 The Washington Fire Company house was torn down to make way for the new firehouse headquarters. Newport Fire Headquarters remained at 10 East Fourth Street until 1997.  During the time of construction, the Newport Fire department temporarily ran out of the Wiedemann brewery.

South Newport Engine Co at former Clifton City Bldg

1936 The town of Clifton was annexed into the City of Newport. As part of the annex agreement, Newport housed a fire company in the old Clifton Administration building, serving the citizens of Clifton. This firehouse is referred to as South Newport and is still in use today.  The Clifton Volunteer Fire Department was de-activated and its members immediately formed the Clifton Third Alarm Associates and were voted full membership in the NKFA.  This organization was headquartered at the S. E. corner of Main and Ash Streets.

NFD Local

1943 On March 3, 1943 the labor organization was re-organized and re-chartered as Local 386.

Newport Fire Headquarters 1947

1947 Newport Fire Department took delivery of a Seagrave 75 foot Aerial Quint open cab. This piece of apparatus was stationed at 10 East Fourth Street.

1950 Newport Fire Department began providing ambulance service to the City of Newport.

Newport Fire 1948 Ahrens Fox

1948 Newport Fire Department purchased 2 pieces of apparatus: Ahrens Fox pumper for Fire Headquarters at 10 East 4th Street Army surplus Mack pumper for South Newport at 171 Main Street. (The Mack pumper had to be modified to fit in the station.)

Peter Pirsch Pumper Stationed at 10 East 4th St

1958 Retired last piston pumper from service. Purchased a Peter Pirsch pumper to be stationed at 10 East Fourth Street.

1959 Mobile radios installed in the ambulance and the pumper at South Newport Station.

1962 Kentucky Professional Firefighters supported 56-hour workweek law. Required a (on 24 off 48) work shift schedule. City discontinued Kelly day (24/24 shift with a shift off every seventh day). Increased the personnel to seventeen.

1963 Henry Weitholter, Fire Chief, established the first radio base station in Campbell County.

1964 Shift Lieutenants were appointed. All appointments had support on the City Commission.

Newport Fire 1965 Seagrave 75 foot Ladder

1965 Fire Department purchased a 75-foot Seagrave Quint. This piece of apparatus was stationed at 10 East Fourth Street until 1989.

1967 The City of Newport gave fire personnel a salary increase but decreased personnel.

1967 Purchased International Travel-All to be used as an ambulance (custom design). Place GMC panel truck into surplus equipment.

1969 Purchased International Highboy to replace Travel-All.

1970's and 1980's

1970 Cadillac ambulance purchased. Two ambulances were then placed into service with ambulance two responding only as a back up for a second run. Personnel came from fire equipment to man the second ambulance. Runs per year were greater than 2,000.

Galaxie Club Fire in 600 Block of Monmouth 1970

1970 Galaxie Club, located in the 600 block of Monmouth Street was gutted by fire spreading in to the Querner Wall Paper Store next door.

1971 Purchased first SCBA, two Scott Units and four Globe Units.

1971 The City of Newport decreased staffing by eliminating one person per shift.

1973 Sixteen shift personnel and three civil dispatchers phased out the Box Alarm System.

1974 Fire personnel called a strike because of money, benefits and written agreement. The strike lasted for less than fourteen hours.

1974 Ralph Quitter was appointed Fire Chief after negotiating strike issues with the City of Newport.

Newport Fire 1974 Seagrave Pumper

1974 Purchased two Seagrave Pumpers with jump seats to be located at 10 East 4th Street. Upgraded radio system to a two-channel system and all turnout gear was upgraded to Nomex.

1975 The City of Newport decreased pay schedule after the Fair Labor Standard Act was implemented. This was to prevent pay changes.

1976 Ralph Mussman was the City Manager and no labor contract was signed this year.

1976 Fire personnel called a strike because they were being ordered to perform functions, which were outside of their job descriptions. The strike lasted approximately two days.

1976 First portable radio was purchased for the pumper.

Newport Fire 1976 Headquarter Add-on
1976 The new addition was completed which added two extra bays, a small rear bay, and additional 2nd floor space for sleeping quarters.

Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire May 28 1977 Southgate KY

1977 On the night of May 28th, a fire broke out at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate Kentucky, killing 165 people. Newport Fire Department was one of many departments called in to battle the blaze. One week prior to the incident, the Newport firefighters participated in a training session at the Supper Club with Southgate and Ft. Thomas Fire Departments.

938 John Street garage fire at illegal fireworks manufacturing 938 John Street Illegal Fireworks Garage Fire in 1981

1981 A garage at 938 John Street manufacturing illegal fireworks, exploded without warning leaving severe damage up to a six-block radius.

1987 Chief Larry B. Atwell replaced Chief Martin Dooley.

Fire House Addition 1976

1989 Fire Department purchased a 121ft Grumman Aerial Cat Ladder Truck, the tallest ladder in the State of Kentucky. Also purchased this year were one Seagrave pumper and one Seagrave squirt. All of this new equipment was housed at 10 East 4th Street.


1994 An International E-ONE ambulance is purchased and placed in service

1995 On March 14th, 1995 the Newport Professional Firefighters were reissued their original Local 45 charter.

1996 A new fire headquarters is completed at 998 Monmouth Street, connected to the newly built city building and police headquarters.

1996 A new Ferrara pumper is purchased and placed in service at the South Newport fire house.

1998 On July 1st, Newport Fire/EMS began providing an Advanced Life Support service for the City of Newport. Another International E-ONE ambulance was purchased and two ALS ambulances were licensed and placed in service.

1998 Newport Fire/EMS hosted the first Paramedic Program. There were a total of 24 students in the program, nine of which were Newport Fire personnel.

1999 The old Fire Headquarters at 10 East 4th Street was demolished to clear a site for the World Peace Bell. Fire Headquarters was in service from 1935-1997.

1999 On October 2nd, Newport units responded to a structure fire at 416 East 10th Street at the Newport Aquarium warehouse. The fire was a major property loss of $1.5 million with the loss of three exotic fish.


2000 Newport Fire/EMS hosted their second Paramedic Program. There were a total of 18 students enrolled and proved to be a success.

2000 The World Peace Bell and Millennium Monument is completed and dedicated on the former site of Fire Headquarters.

2001 Newport on the Levee became a reality, boosting the City of Newport into leading economic growth. The Levee is the finest and only entertainment district in Northern Kentucky. The Newport Aquarium was the first to open its doors but many other businesses followed. The Fire Department responses increased due to the growth in the city.

2004 Newport Fire/EMS celebrates 150 years of service to the City of Newport.

2005 Purchased a new ambulance on an International chassis from the AEV Company to replace the 1998 E-ONE ambulance that was involved in a crash.  The ambulance was hit in the side by a vehicle that was fleeing from police.  The Ambulance crew suffered minor injuries.

2008 EMS improvements including switiching from paper reports to a computer based reporting system.  The contract was awarded to ADPI and member were able write patient reports with a laptop or Tuff Book.  Additional improvements include acquiring 12 lead capable heart monitors, EZ IO, and CPAP: Continuous Positive Airway Pressure system.

2008 September of this year the remnants of hurrican Ike brough wind gusts of over 75mph to Newport and Cincinnati area.  Several homes were damage a well as wide spread power outages.  Serveral members were brought back on duty to help with the high number of calls.  The state of Kentuck declared an emergency which was able to offset the cost of manpower as well as damage to made to the roof of Engine 903's house. 

2009 The first phase of South Shore was Completed, a 22 story luxury condo complex on Newport's riverfront.

2010 Purchased a new 100ft Ladder Truck from E-ONE.  Then new truck was purchased with funds obtained from FEMA through the Assitance to Firefighters Grant.  This apparatus replaced the 1989 Grumman Aerial Cat.

2014 Newport Pavilion was completed as part of a large land redevelopment located next to interstate 471.  The shopping develpment is home to 35 businesses including Kroger, Target, Dicks Sporting goods, Panera Bread, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chipotle, and IHOP.

2015 Purchased a new ambulance on a Ford chassis from Horton Emergency Vehicles.

2017 Contracted with Safety Pad for EMS reporting and billing.  This change moved members from using ADPI labtops (Tuff Books) to PC tablets. 

2017 Purchased a new Fire Engine from Pirece Manufacturing.  This new engine was purchased with funds obtained from FEMA through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant.  The 1996 Ferrara previously assigned to 903 was reasigned to engine 901 in order to replace the retired 1989 Seagrave.

2018 Purchased a new Ford Interceptor command vehicle.  This vehicle is assigned to the Officer in Charge of the Shift.

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Past Chiefs of Newport Fire Department

Washington Fire Company #1 (Volunteer)

Geo. D. Allen 1854-1858
John G. Collins 1858-1863
Job Thompson 1863-1864
John G. Collins 1864-1867
Job Thompson 1867-1869
J. P. Cummings 1869-1869 Disbanded in December

City of Newport Fire Department (Paid)

Thomas H. Williams 1868-1877
John Link 1877-1888
John Waters 1889-1895
John Link 1897-1902
John Waters 1902-1906
Louis Krebs 1906-1907
Fred W. Schmidt 1907-1910
John F. Riechers 1911-1913
Fred W. Schmidt 1914-1915
Samuel Rardin 1916-1918
W. C. Thomasson 1918-1921
Albert L. King 1921-1924
Edward Brandt 1924-1930
Edward Miles 1930-1957
Charles Stuttler 1957-1963
Henry Wietholter 1963-1974
Ralph Quitter 1974-1986
Martin Dooley 1986-1987
Larry Atwell 1987-2006
William Ravenscraft 2006-2008
Paul Uebel 2008-2013
Gary Auffart 2013 - 2016
Bill Darin 2016 - Present

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1866 Washington Hall 10 East 4th St

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