Welcome to the Stockton Fire Department Historical Society. Since 1850, the Stockton Fire Department has had a rich tradition of fighting fire, providing service, and protecting the citizens of Stockton, California. The SFDHS was formed to research and prerve the culture and tradition of the Stockton Fire Department.

About The Historical Society

The Stockton Fire Department Historical Society (SFDHS) was created on April 4th, 2014. The intentions of the SFDHS are to preserve the history and culture of the Stockton Fire Department, and identify the departments place in the history of the National Fire Service. The SFDHS currently operates with 14 board members, made up of near equal parts of fire department personnel and civilian individuals. The SFDHS board members make up five committees: Fundraising, Research, Housing, Cataloging, and Museum.

The Fundraising Committee is currently working on designs for merchandise and publications to sell in order to generate funding. The Fundraising Committee is also working on a social media campaign to drive awareness, and eventual website donations if granted the 501(c)(3). The Research Committee has already made connections in the community and begun research on various topics. The Research Committee has also contributed to the social media campaign in order to promote awareness. The Housing Committee has begun pooling existing artifact into a single location. The Housing Committee has also established two locations as possible housing for the SFDHS: One climate controlled office for small or delicate items, and one larger storage office for larger or ‘back stock’ items. The Cataloging Committee has researched and selected software for the documentation of artifacts. The software program will be potentially sought as a donation if granted the 501(c)(3). A vast undertaking, all current items housed by the SFDHS will be cataloged, then stored in the appropriate housing. The Museum Committee is in charge of selecting a sight for an eventual SFDHS Museum. The Museum Committee is also promoting awareness, public education, and research opportunities to the public.


Co-Chairman: Kevin Taylor. Firefighter, Stockton Fire Department.

Co-Chairman: Richard A. Cowan. Historian of the City of Stockton.

Vice Chairman: Toby Trana. Captain, Stockton Fire Department.

Curator Of Collections: Mario Gardea. Engineer, Stockton Fire Department.

Treasurer: Jon Hellige. Engineer, Stockton Fire Department.

Documentation Officer: Ron Ramos. Photographer, Eastside Fire Photography.

Secretary: Josh Buscemi. Captain, Stockton Fire Department.

Research Coordinator: Dave McLaughlin, Firefighter, Stockton Fire Department.

Organizational Liaison: Tod Ruhstaller. CEO & Curator of History, Haggin Museum.

Organizational Liaison: Dr. Wes Swanson, Chairman, Cultural Heritage Board.

Organizational Liaison: Alice Van Ommeren, Historian of the City of Stockton.

Organizational Liaison: Debbie Hernandez, Board Member, Cultural Heritage Board.

Administration Liaison: Mario McArn. Deputy Chief, Stockton Fire Department.

Union Liaison: Greg Biddle. President Stockton Professional Firefighters.

How We Formed

Prior to the formation of the Stockton Fire Department Historical Society (SFDHS) in 2014, members of the board participated individually in research and preservation. Multiple members (Co-Chairs: Richard A. Cowan & Kevin Taylor, and Vice-Chair Toby Trana) spent time researching the history of the fire service. Their efforts were driven by a desire to promote tradition and legacy in the existing culture of today’s fire department. Much of this research included visiting local museums and library archives to research individual topics. Some of the topics researched included the formation of the department (1850), the department’s transition from volunteer to paid (1888), and the transition from horse drawn apparatus to mechanized (1910’s and 1920’s). In 2008, firefighter’s Kevin Taylor and Toby Trana were introduced to civilian and former Cultural Heritage Board Member Alice Van Ommeren. A published local historian, Alice was pursuing the nomination of a former fire department building as a local historical landmark. The three presented research to the Stockton City Council and ‘The Central Police and Fire Alarm Building’ was preserved as a local historical landmark. In 2011, Kevin Taylor was one of 36 firefighters laid-off from the Stockton Fire Department due to budget cuts. Kevin worked for a neighboring fire agency until August 2013, when he was rehired to the SFD. Kevin teamed with local historian and photographer Richard A. Cowan on creating a historical society for the fire department. Together the two recruited motivated individuals dedicated to the preservation of the culture and history of the Stockton Fire Department. Each individual was carefully selected for the board, and the first official meeting of the SFDHS was held on April 4th, 2014.

Looking Forward

The Stockton Fire Department has a rich history and culture; and information about it is abundant. The future of the SFDHS includes attempting to gather and document as much as we can, creating a system that promotes awareness and research through our material. We are planning publications on fire photography and the history of the department. As the SFDHS grows we plan to hold fundraising, educational, and community events. Through community events, the SFDHS could reach out to the public for greater research opportunities. Artifacts, photos, and scrapbooks have already been given to the SFDHS and documented. The largest objective would be to install and run a museum. The current inventory of the SFDHS could already create an functioning exhibit, with a potential for much more in the future.