The Organization of the Montezuma Fire District and its Early
By Phil Pezzaglia

On June 11, 1928 the Board of Supervisors, of Solano County met
in Fairfield.  Those present at the meeting were: Thomas
McCormack, presiding and Jos. B. Danielson, D.M. Fleming, F.W.
Birchmore and C.E. Schmeiser. At that meeting Supervisor
Schmeiser brought to the table a motion, which was unanimously,
passed declaring that it was the intention of the Board to establish
the “Montezuma Rural Fire Protection District.” An election was
called for the proposed district formation, on Friday, July 6, 1928.
Precinct No. 1 held their polling at the County Voting Booth on
Willow Road. Neal Hamilton held the position of Inspector, Clyde
Brann was Judge and E.C. Dozier acted as Clerk. Precinct No. 2
held their polling at the I.O.O.F. Hall in Birds Landing with R.W.
Bacon acting as Inspector, Ella Sullivan as the Judge and Albert
Larsen held the position of Clerk. When County Clerk G. Halliday
received the returns of the election on Monday July 9th the results
showed that of the seventy-five votes cast, seventy-one voted for
the formation of the rural fire district.  In the Montezuma district
the results of the vote were fifty-three for and four against, while
the residents of Rio Vista were unanimously in favor of the forming
of the fire district. The first vehicle purchased by the new
department was actually purchased before the vote was held.
Confidence was high and the consensus was that the vote would
pass, so a truck was purchased with equipment mounted on a
REO Speedwagon chassis, capable of a speed of fifty-five miles
per hour, with a 600-gallon capacity. The vehicle had the ability to
throw four streams of water at one time, and was equipped with
additional hose and extra supplies along with all of the necessary
equipment for fighting grain and rural fires. The delivery of the
truck was held back a few days, as the vehicle needed to be
reconditioned at the factory, after a few minor details were found
to be faulty on the apparatus, following a test made by the
committee in charge. After the corrections were made the truck
was delivered to the Rio Vista Fire House on the evening of
Thursday July 19th.

The funds used to pay for this vehicle came about in a slightly
different then standard way.  Ten individuals involved in the
organization of the Montezuma Fire District went to the Bank of
Rio Vista and each gave a personal note, with a combined total of
five thousand dollars. With the money obtained from the bank this
first vehicle was purchased, prior to the July 9th vote. On August
6, 1928 members of the Rio Vista Fire Department and the
temporary Trustees of the Montezuma Fire District, consisting of:
Peter Cook Jr. Milton Talbert, Vernon Young and Wood Young,
held a joint meeting to discuss the arrangements with regards to
the new rural fire truck. It was decided that Roy Anderson would
be appointed as driver and main caretaker of the vehicle, while the
members of the Rio Vista Fire department would see that the
truck was properly housed, maintained and manned. Maps of all
of the roads and property in the newly formed fire district were
supplied to the department. It was decided that on rural calls
three men would respond to all calls and would be assisted by
farmers, however the local Rio Vista fire fighters would be in
charge, at the scene.  When the permanent commissioners or
Trustees for the district were appointed: Peter Cook, William
Peterson, Wood Young, Edward Dozier, and Milton Talbert, filled
the positions. Eventually Melvin Robertson replaced Edward
Dozier and Walter Blacklock filled Wood Young’s position. The
second vehicle purchased by the district didn’t occur for a few
more years.  A 1935 Ford tank truck followed by a 1937
Seagraves pumper, and then by a 1941 Chevrolet which featured
two engines, one to run the pump and the other to operate the
truck. Van Pelt built the fire modifications to this 1941 vehicle. The
fifth truck purchased by the department, was a much needed
1946 International water truck, which carried 1200 gallons.  In
1951 the department purchased an 1951 Oldsmobile sedan
(#350) to be used by Chief Heringer as his chief’s car. This vehicle
was marked the first time that all three fire departments, Rio Vista
Volunteer Fire Department (Est. 1926), Montezuma Fire Protection
District (Est. 1928) and Delta Fire Protection District (Est. 1947)
purchased a vehicle jointly.

The Construction of the Montezuma Fire District Fire House
By 1953 the Montezuma Fire District was twenty-five years old and
the Rio Vista Fire Department was twenty-seven years old. That
same year the city of Rio Vista had a population of 2,200 citizens
who were extremely proud of their thirty-two man volunteer fire
department. Eleven pieces of fire fighting equipment were owned
in part by the city of Rio Vista, the Montezuma Fire District and the
Delta Fire District, and fell under the leadership of Fire Chief
Howard Heringer.  In late 1953 work began on construction of a
firehouse for the Montezuma Fire District on the property adjacent
to the Rio Vista Fire Department was located.  Before construction
could start the existing two-story house that was situated on the
property had to be torn down or moved. It was decided that the
house would be moved, and it was placed on a piece of property
on the south side of Montezuma Street between Fifth and Sixth
Streets, were it still stands today. The new 6,500 square foot
firehouse, constructed of basalite walls and cement ceiling,
adjoined the existing Rio Vista Fire Department firehouse, which
had been constructed in 1926.This new structure contained
garage bays for five engines and one ladder truck. The new
facility also contained a kitchen, dormitory, washroom, chief's
office, general office and radio room. The six garage doors
measuring 12' x 14' were installed so as to be either operated
collectively or individually by push button or manually. The two-
way radio station would be in operation twenty-four hours a day
and funds to man it would be jointly paid by the three fire districts.
A formal dedication for the new $50,000 Montezuma Fire District
Firehouse was held commenced at 2:00 p.m. on the afternoon of
Sunday March 21, 1954. The new building followed the dedication
with an open house until 6 p.m. The afternoon was unfortunately
marred by rain and a hailstorm, however that did not deter the
thirty-two members of the Rio Vista Fire Department as well as
several hundred additional excited individuals who attended the
ceremony. Reverend James McRenyolds of the First
Congregational Church of Rio Vista opened the dedication
ceremonies by giving the benediction. Fireman Val deFlores held
the position of master of ceremonies for the days event,
introducing a variety of guest speakers, which included:
Supervisor Raymond Church, Fire Chief Howard Heringer, County
Fire Coordinator Chuck Green of Fairfield, John Wilcox, Delta Fire
District Commissioner Peter Cook and Mayor Harry Alley. One of
the most informative and well-received speech of the day was that
of Milton Talbert of Birds Landing, who handled the dedication
speech with great ease. It was fitting that Mr. Talbert had been
selected to give a speech, as he was one of the members of the
original movement to start the district back in 1928. He had also
held been a member of the board of fire commissioners since the
organization. Mr. Talbert opened his speech very eloquently by
stating "When I was first asked to give the dedication speech
today, I felt very pleased and extremely honored.  I accepted
although I am not a public speaker but because I felt I can give
you some of the history and facts behind our fire district growth".
He closed his speech by saying: "We have labored and sacrificed
to gain the position the fire district holds today and we feel we
have now reached a new height of achievement so it is with deep
pride that I now formally dedicate the new Montezuma Fire
Protection District Fire House".
Department's Early History