Arvada's Century: Public Safety

In 1907, the Arvada Town Board approved the purchase of Arvada's first fire engine. The hand-drawn chemical fire engine arrived by rail from New York, and a group of volunteers known as the Arvada Fire Company was established. In 1911, the Arvada Fire Department was formed, funded primarily by appropriations from the Town Board and profits from dances held on the second floor of the First National Bank building. Arvada's first motorized fire engine was a 1923 Graham Brothers chemical engine purchased in Denver from the Julius Pearce Fire Supply Company. The "Old Dodge" can still be seen traveling the streets of Arvada, although its use is restricted to parades and other special events.

In 1949, local citizens approved the formation of the Arvada Fire Protection District, which transferred control and financing of the department from the Arvada City Council to a separate Board of Directors consisting of five elected officials. For many years, the Arvada Fire Protection District (AFPD) was the largest volunteer fire department west of the Mississippi. In 1999, voters within the District supported a mill levy increase to allow the Arvada Fire Protection District to move from an all-volunteer organization to a combination volunteer/career District. Today the Arvada Fire Protection District covers approximately 40 square miles and serves a population of 110,000.

In its early days, Arvada faced crime and lawlessness from time to time. Murder, robbery, assault, and other crimes were reported every so often. Concern at the lack of police protection was one of several reasons why some citizens pushed for incorporation. The Golden Globe newspaper reported in January of 1904, "In view of the robberies going on at this place, the citizens feel that they ought to have some protection. Well, the constable lives out of town, the deputy sheriff is protecting Moffat's coal mine and the high sheriff himself visits the town about once a month at high noon. Why not incorporate?" The establishment of a police presence was a primary goal following the vote to incorporate on August 24, 1904, but for years the town got by with elected magistrates and marshalls.

In 1941 the Town Board hired Arvada's first uniformed policeman. In 1950, the Arvada Police Department was formed, beginning its operation with a chief and a deputy chief. In addition to responding to calls for service, the duo also read meters and performed a myriad of other duties.