Station 44 is primarily responsible for an area of South Dallas and Northwest Urbandale. Both areas are primarily single family frame residences with some industrial areas. Station 44 is also the closest company to the State Fair of Texas and Smirnoff Theatre.
Its small living quarters are in contrast with the three large bays with a total area of 7,205 square feet.
When the one story, beige brick station opened in 1959, it was considered "state of the art" with new features such as a separate room housing the air conditioner. There was a crucial need for fire protection in South Dallas when Station 44 was completed. Station 21 at Jamaica and Cross streets recently had been closed and 44's filled this void.
An unusual incident occurred just prior to the opening of Station 44. "When a station was first built, we would keep a member at the station to watch over the property until it was activated," tells retired Battalion Chief Charlie Pitman. "Several days before 44's was scheduled to open, there was a big house fire right across the street from the station. You can imagine how badly that member felt watching the fire from the station while another company responded to the incident."
Within months of Station 44 opening, it was known as "Club 44." One reason for this name was the melodious jazz sounds that could be heard inside its walls. "There was a guy in the neighborhood that played the saxophone into the wee hours of the morning," recalls Pitman. "He'd just walk the streets, playing his horn."
There also were many other interesting characters 44's neighborhood. Pitman remembers another known as the "Walking Man." "The 'Walking Man' was a pyromaniac," he says, "who would carry two or three gallons of gasoline around the neighborhood and set houses on fire. Some nights it was like leap frog. We'd have six or seven fires to put out."
Station 44 housed several types of vehicles no longer used by the Department. Pitman tells of "the old sack wagon" which carried tarps; the light wagon which was used to illuminate events hosted at Fair Park; and the wrecker. Pitman sadly remembers driving the wrecker for the first time on February 16, 1964, to the site of the Golden Pheasant restaurant where three DFD members were killed in the line of duty.
At one time, Station 44 housed an engine, reserve engine, wrecker, light wagon and Chief's car. "The joke used to be that when the bell hit we'd each grab a vehicle and go!" Pitman says.
One of the most dramatic incidents Station 44 has ever responded to as a first alarm company was a major train derailment on Baldwin Street in the early 1970s. Ethylene dichloride seeped out. Caught by the wind, the hazardous material floated into some nearby home fuel systems, resulting in the destruction of a half dozen homes. "This was before we knew what a BLEVE was," Pitman adds. "It was a miracle only one was killed."