On January 18th, 1882 a meeting was held and El Paso Fire Company No. 1 was organized. There was no water system at this time. The city granted a contract to Mr. Sylvester Watts to build a water works to supply the city's residents. Along with the water works he would supply the city's first 25 fire hydrants.
As the water works neared completion another meeting was held on August 22nd, 1882. El Paso Hose Company No. 1 was formed and officers elected. City Council approved the elected officers at its next meeting. The first test for the new fire department occurred on November 11th, 1882. Two one-story frame lodging houses were destroyed by fire. One of these housed the actresses of the Coliseum and was owned by one of the department's assistant chiefs, W.H. Carter. Although a fire hydrant was located across from the buildings, the infant department had only 100 feet of hose and could hardly do more than splash water on the buildings.
In the following week, a reorganization meeting was held. Hose Company No. 1, Hose Company No. 2, and Ladder No. 1 were formed. City Council passed the fire department ordinance that created and regulated the department. Firefighters were mostly volunteers until the department became a fully paid department in February 1909.