Hesperia resident and World War II test pilot, William “Bill” Coe, is credited with founding Hesperia’s fire department. In the summer of 1954 his home burned to the ground. As a result, he established a volunteer fire department. He served as Hesperia’s first Fire Chief from 1954 to 1969.

At first, the volunteers shared a station with the California Department of Forestry (CDF). There had been a CDF fire station in Hesperia since 1935, but it was only staffed during fire season; usually June through September. And if there was a large fire elsewhere in the state, that CDF engine would often be assigned to flight the fire, once again leaving Hesperia without any fire protection at all.

In January 1955 the volunteers bought their first firefighting apparatus, a 1942 Chevrolet fire engine that they purchased from George Air Force Base for $1000. But the fire engine was old and needed a new motor. So, the women’s Auxiliary sold quilts and cakes to raise money for the repairs. A new GMC motor was bought for $250 and put into the old Chevy fire engine, making it ready for service.

In 1956 George Air Force Base also gave the volunteers an ambulance that they could use to transport patients to St. Mary’s Hospital in Apple Valley.

Hesperia Fire Protection District (HFPD) was officially established by the country on September 30, 1957. The district was granted self-governing status in the winter of 1960. In 1961 the district reorganized, elected a Board of Directors, and began levying a property tax to support the district. That year the fire district received just $32,285 in revenue.

Hesperia Fire Protection District’s first full-time employee was Al Ringler. Al was a CDF Engineer who was in Hesperia only during the fire season. Hesperia contracted with Al to be a driver for the rest of the year. Eventually Al became a full-time firefighter, then a captain. In 1969 he began serving as HFPD”s second Fire Chief, a position he held until 1975. Chief Ringler hired nine full-time personnel and laid the groundwork for paramedic service.

Between 1975 and 1977 some of HFPD’s personnel were sent to Loma Linda University Medical Center to attend the first paramedic class ever held in San Bernardino County. The district’s first paramedic transport ambulance was placed in service in 1977. With that, Hesperia began operating the first officially recognized full-time fire department paramedic service in the county. The first three Hesperia Fire paramedics were Woody Conklin, Bob Dick and Mike Weis.

1977 was also the year the HFPD held the first fire academy in the High Desert.

In 1979 a major wildfire swept thru town. Pushed by high winds, the fire charred more than 1600 acres and killed two people in the space of one afternoon.

By the 1980’s paramedic service had . been in place for some time, but transportation options for their patients were still limited. Prior to 1983, transportation of patients out of the high desert by helicopter was considered unsafe. Hesperia FPD had become heavily involved in both the San Bernardino County Emergency Medical Care Committee (EMCC) and the San Bernardino County Fire Chiefs EMS Section. These committees pushed for advancements in paramedic care including endotracheal intubations and needle thoracotomies. Pushed by Hesperia Fire and the County Chiefs EMS section, in 1983 a trial period for air ambulance transportation in the high desert was granted using helicopters from Sheriffs Aviation. Using helicopters to rapidly transport high desert patients to Trauma Centers and other specialized treatment centers proved to be a major success. Today, hundreds of patients a year are transported out of the high desert by helicopter.

Between 1980 and 1990 Hesperia’s population grew from 13,574 to 50,418 residents, a 371% increase! This unprecedented population explosion, along with budget constraints brought on by legislation such as proposition 13, put a huge strain on the fire district’s ability to provide service to the community.

In 1988 the voters approved incorporation and Hesperia became a city. The fire district then fell under the city’s control.

In 2004 with a population of now more than 70,000 people to protect, the City of Hesperia decided to enter into a contract for services with San Bernardino County Fire and the City of Hesperia became part of the County Fire family.