On July 17, 1898 The City of Miami Fire Department was formally created when five men gathered in a Miami beer parlor to remedy the outrageous cost of fire insurance in the city. The premiums in Miami were the highest in the nation, with annual rates at eight percent of a structure’s value. This was due to the fact that the all-wooden city had virtually no fire service, and just eighteen months earlier on Christmas Eve of 1896 - the year the City was founded - half of downtown Miami had burned to the ground. In order to bring insurance costs down, the men agreed to form the Miami Fire Department. Those in attendance became the first volunteer firefighters. One of the men, Charles H. Garthside, was elected as the City's first fire chief.
Over the next hundred years, the rudimentary fire service grew into a world-class professional department with a progressive outlook - constantly at the forefront of advancing technology. The Miami Fire Department began the turn of the 20th Century without a history, but the profound changes it underwent during the age of advancing technology forced it to look towards the future for its traditions. Today the City of Miami Department of Fire-Rescue retains a proud history of being at the forefront of fire-rescue developments.