"GET TO THE PHONE AND PASS THE WORD...
JOHN BRANSEN'S HOUSE IS ON FIRE!"
On a summer day in 1926....
...neighbor called neighbor to pass the word..."there's a fire at the Bransen Ranch".
All that heard the call took off to the fire. Men stopped work in the barn,
Women stopped baking in the kitchen, and children stopped playing in the front yard and
ALL abled bodies rushed off to fight the fire.
The house was completely ablaze. The Two Rock Community fought the
fire with determination as
neighbor helped neighbor passing buckets up and down the line
filled with water from the stock troughs and then throwing it on the ripping fire.
Men, Women and Children used wet sacks to flail at the sparks
and to smother the burning grass. All that could be done was to keep
the fire from jumping from the house, to the barn, and to the other out-buildings.
The Two Rock Community fought the fire,
but the fire won that day.
The Bransen home was lost.
The memory of the fire destroying the Bransen home haunted the community for months.
Everybody that fought that fire knew that it could have very easily been their home.
The incident bothered the community so much, that the men in the community got together and began talking about
some kind of fire protection and a communication system that would get help on scene more quickly.
The seeds of the Two Rock Volunteer Fire Department were planted.
The first piece of equipment purchased was a four man hand pump that came from
the ferry's on the San Francisco Bay. In 1927 Jim Fay and Paul Martin with his 9 yr. old son (Claude "Soph" Martin)
took off to San Francisco to pick up the hand pump. Men within the community got
together and assembled the pump and customized it to fit on Paul Martin's truck.
The first independent established volunteer fire department in Sonoma County now had its first pumper.
One of the first fire responses for the Volunteers was a day when the Martin Family had gone to the city.
Word got out that there was a fire at Clarence Boysen's Ranch.
Martin Mickelson drove to the Martin Ranch, picked up the "pumper" and went off to the Boysen's.
When he drove in the Boysen's yard he could see a barn on fire and men standing around
waiting to get to work. Mickelson instructed the men how to work the pump and pull lines as they proceeded to
save half of the barn while putting the fire out.
After the Boysen Fire, community involvment increased and donations started rolling in.
Citizens concerned about their community met to formulate the
groundwork to organize and fund the Two Rock Volunteer Fire Department.
The Volunteer Fire Department was well received in the community and it was not long before a Board of
Directors was elected and in 1928 Frank Doss was named the first Fire Chief of Two Rock.
It was not long until Two Rock started purchasing fire fighting equipment. A second
hand Cadillac was purchased and customized into a pickup which carried knapsack pumps.
These knapsack pumps were very effective on grass fires.
A one ton chevrolet truck was also purchased on which a 250 gallon water tank and a hand crank siren was installed.
This truck had a pump mounted in front of the radiator, and could be used
on grass and structural fires.
The community installed a siren on a warehouse roof in the center of town and fire calls came through the
local store's phone.
During the fire season, every Sunday,
volunteers would take turns to "man" the fire
In 1948, Two Rock Fire bought a new International Truck and had it customized into a
Fire Engine with a 400 gallon tank. An auxilliary engine to run the pump was added which pumped at 800 lbs pressure.
Back in those days it was high pressure and lower volume – the reverse of today where high
volume is wanted for the cooling effect. Back then they wanted high pressure to reach high
where the firefighters could not go, to penetrate the thatch of dried pasture grasses, and to conserve
water, as re-supply was a long time in coming.
The innovative firefighters added 2 hose reels mounted on each side of the engine which carried
100 feet of 3/4 inch rubber hose.
A platform was added on the back
where extra fire fighters could jump on and ride to the fire.
The Fire Engine had an electric siren and a two speed rear end shift as well as four speed
transmittion costing around $6000.00
To raise the money, the Board of Directors assessed all property owners within a 4 mile radius of Two Rock, 2 percent
on their tax bill.
In the early years,
The Two Rock Volunteer Fire Department was instrumental in helping other rural areas
start up their own Volunteer Fire Department. Two Rock Volunteer Firefighters were sought out by
community leaders outside Two Rock and asked to help consult, educate and train their volunteer ranks.
Two Rock Firefighters trained these volunteer's on pump usage and firefighting techniques.
During the early '80's Sonoma County wanted to group the 15 Volunteer Fire Companies in the county under one umbrella called
'The Department of Emergency Services'. Two Rock Fire along with 14 other volunteer companies in rural areas of the county
signed up for the task. The transition was not easy. The surviving retired firefighters and the still active
'grizzled veterans' all agree ..."things changed".
Two Rock had been putting out fires for over 50 years with no injuries...and now it seemed
silly to change. "Things are different,"...is what you hear the firefighting veterans say.
There was more training, more commitments, more meetings, more signatures, more paper,
more rules and regulations, and more equipment. A firefighter now needed more technical skills for accident
and medical calls and had to attend mandatory training. A firefighter now needed to "turn out" in protective gear, and wear
specific wildland fire boots, and so on.
You just could not simply jump off the tractor and rush to the fire. A volunteer firefighter
had to "stop and put your boots on," - and
there is an old familiar saying that is still heard today...
"the fire is not waiting for you to put your boots on".
It was a tough transition and it took a long time for the change to take hold.
Many rural volunteer fire departments that took great pride in fighting fires for their community
went through this change.
Two Rock Fire's progress in the eighty years of the Departments history is
due to the dedication of the citizens of Two Rock, past and present, who have selflessly
volunteered their time to protect others. Their dedication having never shown signs of
wavering regardless of the hardships placed upon them due to long hours, bad weather
and personal sacrifice.
Today we are honored to continue the Two Rock tradition
of quality emergency service that was first established in 1927. We hope to
retain the tradition for many, many, years to come.
Leadership is the key to the success of the Two Rock Volunteer Fire Department.
Below is a list of Community Leaders who held the position as CHIEF.
- Frank Doss 1928 - 1951
- William Hendren 1951 - 1972
- Americo Albini 1972 - 1987
- Paul Martin 1987 - 2003
- Russel Arnew 2003 - 2004
- 2004 - 2006 Suspension period: Two Rock area was covered by Bloomfield Volunteer Fire.
Two Rock Volunteers (5) went on Bloomfields roster.
- Lori Anello 2006 - Present