William Frank Roach, known to friends and co-workers as 'Doc,' started with the Boise fire department in 1911. A fireman's hours were unbelievably long at that time - 21 hours a day for fifteen days before one got a day off. In addition to being a fireman, Doc trained and drove a team of fire horses. A number of anecdotes about those horses are found in the papers. After six years as a fireman he became an alarm dispatcher in 1917 and worked at this job for twenty five years. Promotion to Fire Prevention Captain came in 1947. Finally in 1951 he became Boise's first Fire Marshal, a post he held until retirement in 1965. At the time of his retirement Doc Roach was one of the very few surviving old time firemen who had known the days of horse-drawn fire engines as well as the more modern gasoline pump trucks.
As Fire Prevention Captain, Doc Roach conducted an annual fire prevention week and enrolled help from thousands of Boise school children. Lectures, school assemblies, parades, and clean up campaigns were conducted under his supervision. Photographs of these public relations efforts highlight his efforts and document the flavor of small town life in Boise during the first half of the twentieth century.
Doc traveled throughout the west during vacations. He visited Butte, Montana where he had grown up a number of times. During these travels and vacations he collected ball point and fountain pens. Many of them were designed to advertise the business firms who gave them away. The pens are not part of the collection but were loaned to BSU for a special display during the summer of 1985.
William Frank Roach had worked for the Boise City Fire Department for many years as a fireman and later became the fire marshal. The collection is a reflection of his many years with the department. He collected photographs which show the men, the equipment, the major fires, and fire prevention education in Boise.
The collection, though small, is a treasure trove of photographs documenting the history of Boise, Idaho's City Fire Department from 1911-1965. During that time Boise grew from a small town to a city. Photographs portray some of Boise's memorable fires, evolving fire equipment, firemen and efforts to educate the public about fire prevention. Most of the photos were taken in the downtown area. Many of the buildings shown have since disappeared under the onslaught of urban renewal. A few letters and newspaper clippings and narrative detail to Roach's career and to the history of the fire department.
Restrictions on Access :
Collection is available for research.Preferred Citation :
[item description], W.F. "Doc" Roach Papers, Box [number] Folder [number], Boise State University Special Collections and Archives.
Detailed Description of the Collection