In the 1920s, the town of Greenwood relied on the L.E. White Lumber Company’s water and hydrant systems for fire protection. Fire hydrants were fed by a steam pump at the sawmill located on what is now the Greenwood State Beach.
In 1953, Warren Daniels and John Ross, Jr. constructed a sawmill on Highway 1 across from the Elk Garage. For additional fire protection, “push carts” with rolled hoses were maintained around the site.
Early one evening in 1956, the Greenwood Hotel, with 53 rooms, caught fire and burned to the ground, along with the L.E. White Company Store. Fire equipment from all over Mendocino County responded to this disaster.
As a result of the hotel fire, the current Elk Volunteer Fire Department (EVFD) was formed that year. Joseph Conway was installed as the first Chief. The Daniels and Ross Mill purchased a 1939 open-cab pumper from the city of Orinda, housing it in a building on the mill site.
Curtis Berry and Bob Ryan succeeded Joseph Conway as Chief of the EVFD into the mid-1960’s when the Daniels and Ross Mill closed in 1965.
In 1966, the EVFD reorganized, with R.D. Beacon becoming its next Chief. R.D. added several pieces of equipment and the department began fundraising for a firehouse. At that time, the department was affiliated with the Elk County Water District, but there was no tax base to support a the department. Funds were raised primarily through dinners and the collection of fees from abalone fishing on private property.
The department reorganized again in 1971 and Hank Worthington was elected Chief. Flora Buchanan and Walter Matson actively pursued the acquisition of the present-day site of the firehouse and the original structure (now the hall and kitchen) was built.
Dan Firpo served as Chief briefly in the late 1970s until Bob Matson began a 23-year “career” in the post. During Bob’s tenure, more apparatus was built or acquired, the firehouse was enlarged, and the department took over the ambulance service. A 911 emergency dispatch center was installed in Mendocino County. And in 1990, the Elk Community Services District was formed to provide a reliable tax-based source of funding for the EVFD and expansion of services to the Cameron and Greenwood Road areas.
Charlie Acker followed Bob Matson as Chief in 1994. Current-day chief, Jeff Roy, was elected in 2002.
Starting in 1991 and continuing in the 2000's, the EVFD began modernizing their trucks by stepping in to the modern world of reliable computerized vehicles under chiefs Acker and Roy. This move was largely spearheaded by former chief Bob Matson with his extensive knowledge of trucks. By 2010, 5 of the departments 7 engines are reliable and roomy trucks.
The department celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2006 by erecting a new sign and dedicating the firehouse to two former firefighters who led EVFD’s expansion efforts in the earlier years Lee “Mac” McKnight and the late Dave Skilton.
On June 21, 2008 lighting strikes accompanied by little or no rain ignited hundreds of fires state wide. Elk Fire committed its entire engine force and personnel along with an equal number of volunteer residents to over 4000 acres burning in the Elk CSD for eight days with little or no help for much of the time.
In 2009, 7 firefighters volunteered for extra training and skill development qualifying them to serve as a "Strike Team" which can respond to wildfires outside Mendocino County.
Current equipment includes 3 wildland engines, 2 pumping tankers, one rescue truck, one Type 1 city-style engine, a breather refilling trailer and one ambulance at 4 stations located throughout a 55-square-mile district. These can be viewed on this page describing our district. Current equipment projects include upgrading the pumping equipment on Engine 7131 based at the Cameron Road station along with replacing radio and paging equipment in preparation for the FCC's mandated change over to narrow band radio channels.
Volunteers are always needed. Historically our roster stands at 20 members, approximately 8% of the district's population. Anyone wishing to join is welcome to attend trainings on the first and third Thursday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at the Firehouse at the Greenwood Community Center located at 6129 S Highway 1. New volunteers must receive training for fire activities, CPR, ambulance driving and fire engine driving.
Annual Summer BBQ
The EVFD holds an annual Summer BBQ in July at the Greenwood Community Center. It includes a no-host bar and famous margaritas, raffle, live music, activities for kids, and disaster preparedness resources. Funds raised help maintain fire equipment and department operations.
Elk Fire Auxiliary
Traditionally, volunteer fire departments have auxiliary organizations that help with a wide variety of functions. While Elk Fire technically has no auxiliary, we fondly consider the Greenwood Civic Club to be ours. The GCC has raised over $30,000 for Elk Fire, helps at our events and also raises funds for the Greenwood Community Center, children's programs and scholarships.
The Community Foundation of Mendocino County has been a generous supporter of Elk Fire via grants administered from local sources. In recent years the foundation has funded Elk Fire's first PASS devices (a required safety device for entering smoky buildings), our tactical radio repeater which allows us to communicate within our 55 square mile district, and recently pager and radio equipment needed to satisfy mandated FCC rules designed to pack more radio channels in the same space. None of these items could be funded by our small 300+ population district without their help.