The first attempt to give the City of Winona fire protection was in 1857, a few months after the city was incorporated. The population at the time was about 3,000.
Winona is situated on the Mississippi River approximately 120 miles south of the State Capital, St. Paul. Since Winona is in the Mississippi Valley, it is “land locked” by the Mississippi River and the “bluff lands.” Winona is long and narrow and cut diagonally by railroad tracks. Thus, two fire stations protect Winona.
The paid Winona Fire Department was organized November 1, 1889 under the direction of John W. Ryan, a captain from the Milwaukee Fire Department, as Fire Marshal. The department consisted of 14 paid personnel.
The department responds to over 2,000 calls for help annually. Sixty-nine percent of these calls are medical or rescue in nature. Nine-nine percent of the calls are remedied by the on duty crew. By Council Resolution the department maintains five firefighters on duty 24/7 ready to respond.
At one point there were 44 paid positions in the department. In 2009 there are 21 full-time firefighting positions and one 1/2 time secretary and there are 30 part-time positions authorized.
Forty-hour positions include the Fire Chief; Assistant Chief in charge of Fire Prevention; the Assistant Chief in charge of Training; and a secretary.
The shift personnel consist of six captains and twelve firefighter/drivers. Of the twelve firefighters, nine of them are paramedics. The department protects 27,069 people within 22 square miles of the city limits.
The department is active in all phases of the fire/rescue profession.
It’s fleet of apparatus includes two front line pumpers, two back-up pumpers, a 105-foot aerial, a 2000 gallon tanker and several support vehicles.