Department History

American Fork Ambulance
Throughout the years, American Fork Ambulance has proven to provide only the highest level of care to the citizens of the city. Many changes have taken place within the department to accomplish this.

Private providers owned and operated local ambulance service until the volunteer unit sponsored by American Fork City went into service in 1970. Previous service was provided for more than 20 years by Anderson and Sons Mortuary. They announced in late 1962 that they would discontinue the ambulance service on December 31st of that year.

Private Ambulance Service
James Christensen, assisted by contributions by American Fork City, American Fork Hospital and Dr. Guy A. Richards, established a private ambulance service. Dispatch service was through American Fork Hospital, where Christensen was chief X-ray technician. The city provided funds to purchase equipment. Dr. Richards contributed a 1962 Chevrolet station wagon, and the hospital provided equipment and some supplies.

In announcing the new Christensen Ambulance Service, Christensen emphasized that the service would be provided to American Fork and area residents on a 24-hour basis, 7 days a week. The new service went into operation January 1, 1963. The ambulance was stationed at the hospital with all calls for assistance received and dispatched through the hospital switchboard. It was noted that Christensen’s extensive training in emergency medicine made him well qualified to meet the urgent community need for ambulance service.

After 7 years of 24-7 service, Christensen announced that he would discontinue ambulance service as of January 1, 1970. The city utilized the Pleasant Grove and Lehi ambulance service until Councilman Malcolm Beck could organize a city sponsored unit.

American Fork Ambulance Service
January of 1970, Jerry Barratt was named temporary chairman of the newly organized American Fork Ambulance Service. He recruited 22 members who were trained in first aid and rescue techniques by Max Schmidt of Gold Cross Ambulance, Salt Lake City. In reviewing the activities of the volunteers during the 1st year Councilman Beck, Mayor Neal Savage and other members of the city council termed the service as “professional”. As the organization grew, training continued and volunteers came to include both men and women.

As of present, the ambulance and fire department are a combined entity under the direction of newly appointed full-time Chief Kriss Garcia. Emergency medical services are provided by full-time, part-time, and volunteer personnel at the ALS-Paramedic level. This is the highest level of care which can be provided in the field. American Fork Fire / Rescue recognizes its past, and is a very progressive department, ensuring the utilization and delivery of cutting edge services to the citizens of American Fork.

American Fork Fire Department

The American Fork Fire Department has always been a volunteer organization. It began with 23 concerned citizens and has grown into a modern, effective fire protection unit. As of October 2009, the department is now led by Chief Kriss Garcia. He was appointed chief on October 13, 2009, following the leadership of the former Chief Jay Christensen.

This proud organization had a modest beginning. The organizing meeting was held in the American Fork City Hall May 1, 1910. The most experienced fire firefighter among them, William Firmage, was elected Fire Chief. The group met 2 days later to name several committees. John Robinson, F.G. Wheeler and Stephen L. Anderson were named to the By-Laws Committee and directed to draft a suitable document for the new department.

Equiptment
The problem of firefighting fires at the turn of the 20th century was an arduous venture. Although some city water lines had been laid and most homes had access to “running” water, the installation of fire hydrants was not complete. More serious was the lack of proper equipment. In 1908 the city had authorized the expenditure of $96.80 for a steel fire cart.

Firemen responding to the strident clanging of the city hall bell had little equipment to battle a fire. There was the wheeled cart which several men pulled to transport their meager equipment to the scene of a fire. They had hose, couplings, ladders, fire axes, a small hand powered pump and buckets. If a hydrant was not available, the pump was laid in an irrigation ditch and the men used their muscles to raise water to the hose connection.

Creating a Foundation
This volunteer organization of 1910 has set the foundation of the current, more modern fire department we have today. The demands of sharp firefighting skills increase as the city grows. As a result of this, the Fire / Rescue Department frequently provides weekly training to its personnel and most the majority of the department has Fire 1, Fire 2, and HazMat, and EMT certifications.

Community Involvement
American Fork has prided itself on a high standard of community involvement. The most popular of them all is the Fireman’s Memorial Day Breakfast. In the mid-1940s the Fire Ladies Auxiliary began the annual Firemen’s Memorial Day Breakfast. It was held in the original fire station with the firemen and their wives providing electric frying pans, camp stoves and grills in the upstairs room of the small station. Here the meal was cooked and served to hundreds of residents who climbed the steep steps and waited their turn at the tables. This tradition has continued to the present day, and over 1,000 citizens are served each Memorial Day.

Also, in recent years the fire department has participated in the National Muscular Dystrophy Program “Fill the Boot”. For more than the past decade, the program’s effort has been part of the firemen’s service. At first firemen stood outside local businesses to collect contributions in an actual fireman’s boot. Now they take more daring action and, incidentally raise far more donations, by actually standing in busy intersections and collecting from generous drivers. The program is very successful and raises over $15,000 annually.

Today the fire and ambulance departments are combined forming 1 “Fire / Rescue” Department. Many personnel are cross-trained for fire and medical emergencies. Training takes place on a weekly basis to keep skills on the cutting edge of fire and rescue strategies.