Engine Company #28
The Portland Fire Bureau has a long and prestigious history. From the time that Portland was a small town to the thriving city that we see today, firefighters have been ready and willing to defend it. The first paid fire department in Portland was formed on January 3, 1883, when their budget was approved by the city council.
The #28 fire station on Sandy Boulevard was built in 1913. The stations that were built around the same time (numbers 27 through 30) are look similar. The station experienced many changes between 1913 and 1984. Horse drawn hose wagons were traded for motorized vehicles in 1920. Those vehicles were improved upon several times in an effort to shorten response time and water pumping capabilities. Hundreds of firefighters served out of station #28 and by 1984 the city grew up and past the need of this fire station.
Despite these changes, the structure looks as it did in 1913. The roses that were planted over 50 years ago still grow up the back of the building. The wall where the horse stalls once stood still has the tile that was placed over the brick walls for easier cleaning. At one spot a piece of wood attached to the wall is evidence of a rambunctious horse that once destroyed all the tiles in his stall.
The lockers that were built in the 1960s are still in place and used by the occupants today- except for one down at the end. In that locker are the abandoned belongings of a fireman who had worked at #28 just before it closed. The employees of Central Northeast Neighbors left them there initially because they though that the fireman might eventually come to reclaim them. Seventeen years later the locker has turned into a sort of memorial in remembrance of the purpose the building once served.
On the east side of the building the remains of the hose tower still juts out of the structure. It has now been turned into a fully functional stairway, but originally it was used to hang the fire hoses out to dry. There was a narrow, metal stairway that corkscrewed its way to the top where the hooks held the hose. The station had two hoses. One was kept neatly folded on the truck and the other was hung in the tower. Once a month the firefighters would climb up and switch them.
According to Richard Muir, who was stationed at #28 from 1972 to 1983, #28 company had one of the fastest response times in the district, probably due to the diagonal route of Sandy Boulevard. The four to five men crews at #28 worked in 24-hour. There were three different teams of firefighters that would rotate days.
If the firefighters weren’t out battling a blaze, they were training to do so. When a building is on fire every minute counts. The firefighters had timed drills for everything from getting things together and out the door to connecting hoses to the hydrant and spraying water.