In 1893, Salem utilized the labor savings of horse-drawn steam operated fire engines and was able to reduce the 220 man volunteer force to 14 paid firefighters.
The year 1919 marked the end of the horse-drawn era for the Salem Fire Department. Thereafter, the steam fire engine was held in reserve. Its last documented use was in 1935 when the State Capitol Building burned to the ground. The Capitol fire resulted in Salem's first line of duty death.
Firefighter Floyd McMullen, a Willamette University student, was a “sleeper” (volunteer firefighter) at the East Salem firehouse. Firefighter McMullen was killed by a falling cornice.