By Becky Maxedon
A damper has been put on all sorts of celebrations – from birthdays to events to anniversaries – for the past year because of the novel coronavirus.
And one local community celebration cannot happen because of COVID-19.
The Desert Hills Fire District celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
Current Battalion Chief Stephen Bunn said because of COVID, gatherings to celebrate the milestone are not possible. “We just can’t do anything right now,” Bunn said.
The district was created by an election in 1971 when a majority voted to create a taxpayer-supported fire district. The original fire district included the communities of Desert Hills and Chrystal Beach but was later expanded to include the communities of Havasu Heights and areas of Interstate 40.
The first elected Fire Chief was Larry VanBynen. Those who followed include Chief Alvin Chapman, Chief Leonard Wells, Chief Bob Bouldin and Chief Matthew Espinosa. Chief Bill Weber and Chief Pat Dennen were later selected by the board of directors to serve as fire chief. In 2019, the board of directors appointed Battalion Chief Bryant Stanec and current Battalion Chief Stephen Bunn.
In 2012, the state legislature enacted a law that forced all fire districts governed by an elected fire chief and secretary-treasurer to be governed by a fire board. On Dec. 1, 2012, Denny Burns, Howard Coulson and John Hayes were elected as the first fire board member of the fire district.
The original fire station was located in a Quonset hut at 3979 London Bridge Road. In the early ‘80s, a building at Davis Camp was disassembled and transported in three parts to 3983 London Bridge Road, where the No. 1 fire station is now.
Davis Camp had originally been built in northern Mohave County to house Davis Dam workers in the late 1950s/early 1960s.
Using a tremendous amount of volunteer labor and materials, the building was then reassembled with additions added and was dedicated as the new fire station in the spring of 1986.
The district’s mission statement is simple, “Personal Safety – Prevent Harm – Be Nice.”
The district now includes a second station at 4311 Heights Blvd.
Known for pancake breakfasts and spaghetti dinners, those community favorites have been curtailed by COVID-19 as well.
“The auxiliary is going to meet in the next few weeks to talk about whether there might be a way to have some of our regular events,” Bunn said.
To help celebrate the 50th anniversary, Desert Hills Fire District is selling T-shirts commemorating the event. The T-shirts are $20. They are pictured on the district’s Facebook page. Bunn said they are available at the station and folks can pick them up during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. All COVID-19 guidelines must be followed when visiting the station.
For more information about Desert Hills Fire District, visit the website at deserthillsfire.org, or the Facebook page at Desert Hills Fire District.
Here are a few photos of the DHFD over the years.