History of the Albuquerque Fire Department

On Sunday, February 18, 2024, Herman Bishop presented the history of Albuquerque Fire Department fire-fighting from bucket brigades to hand-drawn and horse-drawn fire hoses to modern times. Herman is the Historian of the Albuquerque Fire Department Retirees Association. He is a retired Assistant Chief and spent 25 years with the fire department. His lecture covers 142 years of fire department history beginning in 1882. With the coming of the railroad in 1880 and due to rapid population growth and increasing fire hazards community leaders formed the Albuquerque volunteer fire department during February, 1882.

The lecture covers the Albuquerque volunteer fire department when bucket brigades were formed with hand drawn hose wagons, and ladder wagons. Volunteers served the city for 18 years and supervised installation of fire hydrants, fire alarm boxes and a fire house. On June 6, 1900 the City Council established a paid fire department and purchased horses and horse drawn fire wagons. Horses served the city well until 1912 when the first motorized fire pumper was purchased. After motorized fire apparatus proved their worth horses were used as back up until 1918. As the lecture continues it covers fire department growth to present date.

The program was held at the Albuquerque Museum at 2000 Mountain Rd. NW in Old Town. Parking is free in the lot south of the Museum. Admission to the Museum and the AHS program is also free.

Photo of Herman BishopHerman Bishop grew up in the small coal mining town of Caretta, West Virgina and his father was a coal miner. After graduating from High School in 1957, Herman joined the United States Army. Upon completion of military training, he was sent to Sandia Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico in January, 1958. He was a military Policeman with the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project. This was a high level top secret security assignment and his job was guarding nuclear weapons.

After three years military service, Herman joined the Albuquerque Fire Department in 1960. At that time, there were12 fire stations and 265 firemen in the department. He served as a Firefighter, Driver, Lieutenant, Captain, District Chief, Fire Marshal, and Assistant Chief. During his career, Herman served in all divisions of the department including, Firefighting, Rescue, Training, Fire Prevention, Arson, and Fire Administration.

During January 1986, Herman retired from the Albuquerque Fire Department after serving over 25 years. In 1990 he was appointed to Fire Chief with the Hickory, North Carolina Fire Department. After a wonderful second career in the fire service and completing seven successful years as Fire Chief, Herman retired for good in 1997. Overall, he spent 32 years in the fire service.

Herman graduated from the University of Albuquerque with an Asssociate Degree in Fire Science and a few years later he received a Bachelor of University Studies Degree with a major in Public Administration from the University of Albuquerque. During his fire service career, he graduated from the National Fire Academy in Emmittsburg, Maryland after completing the Executive Fire Officer Management Program.

In June 2000, Herman was a key player in forming the Albuquerque Fire Department Retiree’s Association along with Fire Chief Morris Huling, and fellow retirees Sam Trujillo, Louis Trujillo, Bob Murphy, Bill Raupfer and Ralph Sedillo. During the past 24 years, Herman has served as Historian with the Retiree’s Association and is the editor of the Retiree’s Newsletter, a quarterly publication.

Herman resides in Albuquerque with his wife Carmen, a retired registered Nurse. They have two sons, Richard and Jerry and a granddaughter, Heather Bishop.

Photo of AFD Station 2 - 1914
Albuquerque Fire Department Station 2, 1914