Honolulu Fire Department History

The Honolulu Fire was established on December 27, 1850, by signature of King Kamehameha III and was the first of its kind in the Hawaiian Islands, and the only Fire Department in the United States established by a ruling monarch. King David Kalakaua served briefly with Engine 4, a proud indication of the ruling monarch's personal interest in the Department.

The first Fire Chief was W.C. Parke, who was later replaced by Alexander Cartwright, who was considered a founder of the Department to many, oversaw its rapid growth in the years to follow. He served as estate administrator for Queen Emma and King Kalakaua, and was a pioneer in baseball, forming the New York Knickerbockers. He brought the game of baseball to Hawaii in 1849, devoting his time to introducing the game throughout the Islands until his death in 1892.

Hawaii's two most famous fires occurred in 1886 and 1900, both destroying Chinatown, in the heart of downtown Honolulu. On December 7, 1941, engine companies 1, 4, and 6 fought the fires at Hickam Field during the attack of Pearl Harbor. Two fire Captains and a hoseman were killed and six other firefighters wounded. These firefighters were awarded the Purple Heart and they became the only civilian fire fighters in the United States to ever receive this award.

We began manufacturing miniature police jewelry in the 1970's with Clyde Seaver, owner of Freitas Jewelers, eventually buying the dies and drop hammer and taking over the business in 1980. This included one police and one fire department die, and drop hammer. Freitas was the exclusive manufacturer of the miniature Honolulu Fire Department badge and today we create the official retirement, valor, and 25-year service awards.

We immediately began to expand the line and advertise these products in the SHOPO newsletter under the name "Design's in Gold & Freitas Jewelers." Among these new original creations were the first miniature rings and bracelets to bear the actual shields. The expanded product line contained in this website demonstrates our commitment to the departmental products made possible by your continued support.

Note: Parts of this history are from the Official Honolulu Fire Department website.