The Pontiac Fire Department began on April 23, 1833, four years before the city of Pontiac was incorporated, as a “bucket brigade” of thirty volunteers organized to carry water from the Clinton River in the event of a fire. In 1839, a small hand-operated fire engine was purchased for $300 by the volunteers. However, the engine did not operate well, and in April 1840 when a fire broke out in the city, the bucket brigade was unable to stop the fire from destroying most of the business section. This fire led to the organization of the first real Fire Department, and in 1848, a station house built of brick was constructed at the corner of Perry and East Pike. The first volunteer fire chief was William Henderson, who was in charge of seventy volunteer firemen. The department had a water pumper, a hand engine, a hose cart and 1,700 feet of hose.