The Long Beach Fire Department was established on March 16, 1897 after a number of uncontrollable fires that resulted in a total loss of property. Twenty-eight charter members signed up as volunteer firemen. A hand drawn ladder truck and other fire equipment was housed in a building in the alley between Ocean and 1st Street, Pine and Pacific.
In the spring of 1898 the Spanish-American War broke out and several of the volunteer firemen disbanded to go off to fight in the war. Very little can be said regarding the Department during the years between 1898 and 1901. But on December 2, 1901 the City Trustees purchased two fire hose carts, together with 1,000 feet of hose and 35 hydrants.
On May 27, 1902 the Board of Trustees elected Mr. J.F. Corbet, one of the leading business men of the City, as the first Fire Chief, and Mr. H.D. Wilson as Assistant Chief. However, growing pains were evident in the unsettled conditions in the Department and business commitments in another state caused the resignation of Fire Chief Corbet and Assistant Chief Wilson. This caused a reorganization of the Department with the formation of three companies and the installation of J.E Shrewsbury as Fire Chief.