Find out a little
about us.

City of Houma Fire Department is made up of 60 personnel, 54 in the Operations Division and 6 in the Fire Administration Division.

The History of Firefighting Technology in Houma

The bucket brigade in action (artist rendering)

Before Houma’s first fire company was established, the city used the oldest known method of fighting fire: the bucket brigade. A line of volunteers would stretch from a water source (typically Bayou Terrebonne) to the scene of the fire. The volunteer closest to the water source would scoop up a bucket of water and pass it to the person next to him. That person would then pass it on to the person next to him and so on down the line until it reached the person closest to the fire. As each bucket arrived, the water would be thrown onto the flames, and the empty bucket would be passed back down the line. The brigade would pass multiple buckets down at a time in an effort to extinguish the flames.

Unfortunately, the bucket brigade method was a slow procedure. The most you could expect was to gain enough time to save some of your belongings. Most of the buildings that caught fire, all wooden back then, went up in flames.

Houma's first hand pumper, the Lula Ruthy Wright

In 1888, Houma purchased a hand-pumper called the Lula Ruthy Wright to aid the firefighting volunteers. By this time, Houma’s Fire Company had been established, and the city’s first fire station had been constructed. The firemen would have to retrieve the hand-pumper and hoses from the fire station, then haul the equipment to the scene. When they arrived at the scene, they had to stand on each side of the pumper and pump the water onto the blaze by hand. Wells were dug every few blocks to access the water.

The tower at Wood and Roussel Streets stood over 116 feet high and held 40,000 gallons of water.

The steam engine was Houma’s next firefighting method. It is unknown which year this technology was implemented. The steam engine was an upright steam boiler which allowed the firemen to pump the water from the wells using steam.

A series of major downtown fires in the late 1800s lead to a revamping of building codes and the building of a pressurized water system to provide a reliable water source in the event of a fire. On September 9, 1902, a bid was awarded to build Houma’s first pressurized water system. 165,000 red bricks and 25,000 lake bricks were purchased to construct what many agree is one of Houma’s oldest and most recognizable landmarks: the tower at Wood and Roussel Streets. The tower stood at over 116 feet high, and the steel tank atop the structure held 40,000 gallons of water. The system was designed to use a steam engine to pump water from Bayou Terrebonne through cast-iron pipes to the tank atop the tower. Hydrants were scattered through then-downtown Houma, and homes and businesses could have water piped onto their premises by paying a monthly fee.

Houma's first motorized fire truck, the Effie Hellier.
In 1916, Houma’s first motorized fire truck, the Effie Hellier, made its debut. This truck can be seen in the group photo above, which was taken in the 1920s (photo courtesy of the Thomas Blum Cobb Collection).

Houma's Fire Companies

The Houma Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 was organized on July 6, 1872. The company originated with 36 of the most influential men in the community. The members were constructive and active during the many years of its existence. On July 12, 1872, they secured a permit for the construction of what they called the “rooster fire station,” named for the white rooster weather vane atop the structure. The station was originally built along the bayou side. In 1896, the station was moved to Church Street to become the “rooster school.”

The market building at the northwest corner of Goode and Main Streets, originally built in 1857, housed the Effie Hellier - Houma's first motorized fire truck. Photo courtesy of the Thomas Blum Cobb Collection.

Houma’s second volunteer fire company, Houma Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, was incorporated on March 1, 1888, and was also comprised of prestigious men in the community. The company built a new hall on the northeast corner of Church and Verrett Streets. In addition to holding the fire apparatus and serving as a meeting place, the hall was also used as a place for social entertainments, holding court when the courthouse was being remodeled, and a public-school room. This building also housed Houma’s first fire bell.

On July 3, 1894, the Houma Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 obtained a grant to construct a new building which housed the new Hook and Ladder Hall. The building also housed an opera house, located in the rear of the structure. The belfry of this structure housed the second of Houma’s original fire bells. The bell was said to ring with a crisp, high “ding, ding, ding” sound, while the original in the old Hook and Ladder Hall tolled a low “dong, dong, dong” tone.

The original Hook and Ladder Hall was torn down in 1918. On January 6, 1920, the Houma Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 was reorganized. On June 25, 1930, a contract was executed to build a new fire station at the southeast corner of Roussel and Wood Streets. This station, known as the Central Station, remains aside the now-abandoned brick water tower. One of the original fire bells remains atop a structure at this station.

The market building at the northwest corner of Goode and Main Streets, originally built in 1857, was used as a fire station sometime before 1930 (exact years are unknown). This station housed the Effie Hellier, Houma’s first motorized firetruck.

Historical Timeline

1822
  • The first courthouse was erected at Bayou Cane, on land owned by Alex Dupre and H.S. Thibodaux.
  • Houma's first jail was built by Pierre Cazeau. It was 12 square feet.
1834
  • The city of Houma was founded.
  • On May 5th, the original, one-story courthouse was built by Alex McMaster. It was constructed where the current courthouse stands today.
  • The first post office was established August 1st.
1836

One-story brick building was constructed by Thomas C. Nelson to house the office of the clerk, recorder, and sheriff.

1837

Brick jail was constructed behind the courthouse. This jail was destroyed by Federal troops during the Civil War.

1840

Construction began on the first public school in Terrebonne Parish.

1860
Sketch of Houma's second courthouse. Construction began in 1860 and was halted due to the civil war.

Construction began on Houma's second courthouse; however, construction was halted due to the Civil War.

1872

Houma Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 was formed. The “rooster fire station” was built.

1873

Following the Civil War, Felix Daspit resumed the construction of Houma's second courthouse.

1875
Houma's second courthouse, completed in 1875.

Construction of the second courthouse was completed.

1877

A one-story jail was constructed by J.E. Naquin and H.R. Thiberge.

1884
Houma's Opera House stood across from the courthouse on the bayouside.

The new Firemen's Hall was built and housed the high-tolling bell and the original opera house.

1888
Houma's first hand pumper, the Lula Ruthy Wright

Houma Hook and Ladder Fire Company No. 1, Houma’s second fire company, began construction on the original Hook and Ladder Hall where the Courthouse Annex is now located. This was the original home of the deep-tolling bell and the hand pumper, the Lula Ruthy Wright.

1892
Houma's second courthouse, remodeled with a second-story addition.

The courthouse was remodeled, and a second story was added.

1896
The "rooster fire station" was moved and became a school. Photo courtesy of the Thomas Blum Cobb Collection.
  • “Rooster Fire Station” was moved from the bayou side to Church Street to become a school. A new fire station, with an opera house and post office, is constructed on the vacated site. Postmaster Grinage moved in on October 30th.
  • The new opera house hosted its first event October 28th featuring music by Professor A. Heicheheim's Orchestra. The first play, "Our Kittie," debuted on October 30th having been postponed due to bad weather.
1899
Antique sign advertising the Cumberland Telephone System
  • Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph Co. took over the phone system.
  • A new jail was constructed behind the courthouse.
1900

Old kerosene street lamps disappeared with the arrival of electricity.

1902
Chicago engineer George Cadogan Morgan designed Houma's first gravity-fed water system.

Houma’s first pressurized water system arrived with the construction of the first water tower.

1906

Wooden pedestrian bridge on Church Street gave way to Houma's first iron span.

1918

The Hook and Ladder Hall was torn down to make way for Terrebonne High (later Houma Jr. High), which took over the entire block of Church and Verret Streets.

1920
The Houma Volunteer Fire Company poses on Main street. Photo courtesy of the Thomas Blum Cobb Collection.

Houma Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 was reorganized.

1928

The opera house was demolished.

1929

Houma’s first modern sewer system was installed.

1930
Central Fire Station located at corner of Wood and Roussel Streets. Photo courtesy of the Thomas Blum Cobb Collection.
  • Central Fire Station built on Wood and Roussel Streets.
  • Main Street and Lafayette Street became Houma’s first paved streets.
1931

Houma Elementary was constructed at the corner of Academy and Grinage Streets.

1933
Houma's new post office under construction Photo courtesy of the Thomas Blum Cobb Collection.
  • The property where the Hook and Ladder Hall and opera house stood was sold to the government and the post office was built.
  • The Intracoastal Canal was dug through Main Street and Park Avenue.
1937
Construction began on the new Terrebonne Parish Courthouse.
  • Construction began on the new Terrebonne Parish Courthouse.
  • New drawbridge installed crossing the Intracoastal Canal, and Houma spread Eastward.
1939

John Peter Beck's natural gas system installed in Houma.

1968

Bayou Terrebonne declared non-navigable from New Orleans Boulevard to its source in Thibodaux. A couplet traffic system was instituted.

Present and Past Fire Chiefs

  • Keith Ward 2017 - Present
  • Todd Dufrene 2009 - 2017
  • Daniel Scott 2006 - 2008
  • Brian Hebert 2000 - 2006
  • John Voisin 1998 - 2000
  • Gale LeBoeuf 1987 - 1997
  • Ernest Miller, Sr. 1980 - 1987
  • Howard Oubre 1975 - 1980
  • Bennie Bourg 1973 - 1974
  • Homer Bland 1963 - 1970
  • Leonce Doiron 1946 - 1963
  • Hewitt LeBoeuf 1936 - 1946
  • A.J. Bethancourt 1916 - 1936