Although Pensacola was discovered by Spanish conquistadors in 1559, the Fire Department traces its beginnings to 1810. In that year the city imported two fire engines, fifty leather buckets, hoses, and nozzles from a firm in England. Despite the new equipment, firefighting was a haphazard proposition until the first volunteer firefighting company was formed in 1821, at last providing regular staffing for the city's firefighting equipment.
For the remainder of the century, the story of firefighting in Pensacola was mainly one of volunteer companies organizing, combining, and disbanding. On January 1, 1898, the city established a full-time paid fire department consisting of eighteen officers and firefighters.