The Ghosts of Fire Station No. 1
As seen in The Osider Magazine, September/October 2017, Vol. 4 Issue 5.
Words by Amber Lussier. Photos by Zach Cordner. Historical information courtesy of Kristi Hawthorne (Oceanside Historical Society)
“After spending the night inside Fire Station No. 1, we know the firemen are not alone.”
– Amber Lussier
When we envision a fire station, we typically think of a safe place where our modern-day heroes wait to respond to emergency calls. These men and women are nothing short of brave. In their line of work, they witness things that most of us cannot even imagine. But at Fire Station No. 1 there are things happening that have our first responders feeling uneasy—paranormal activity.
The firehouse was built in 1929 and was designed by famed architect Irving Gill. The building had a duel purpose. It functioned as Oceanside’s fire station, as well as the police station. The living quarters for the firemen was located above the garage and had a brass pole that allowed quick access to the truck. The police station was next door (within the same building) and included an office, radio room, and booking and visiting rooms. The jail was located upstairs.
“You had to drag everybody up those stairs. The drunks were the hardest to get in the jail”
– Ernest Taylor, a full time fireman and police desk sergeant in 1935.
One of those drunks was named Johnny Rebovick. Within a 20-year span, Johnny had been arrested more than 56 times, mostly for public drunkenness. In 1967 Johnny was arrested one last time. He was placed inside a jail cell and given a meal. Later that night, Johnny was found sitting with his back against the wall, lifeless.
The night we conducted our paranormal investigation, the firemen gave us a tour of the building and shared their paranormal experiences. Johnny’s name came up often.
“The guys get messed with all the time and a lot of the guys won’t even sleep (in the bunks). That’s where the jail cells used to be. They’ll usually stay in the front room. Whatever is here holds you down, you can’t move, and you can’t speak. In the beginning it’s unnerving, but after awhile you get used to it.”
– Captain Tim Scott
The firemen identified three locations as having the most paranormal activity—jail cell #1, the “drunk tank,” and the women’s holding cell. All three have been converted into bunks where the guys refuse to sleep.
After the tour, the firemen left the area so we could secure the space and set up our monitoring equipment. Our team consisted of four other people—Zach Cordner, Pascal van den Berk, Jace Gardenier, and Mike Pittman. We came armed with eight night vision cameras, numerous digital voice recorders, multiple professional grade DSLR cameras, K2 EMF meters, and apps that allow energy to be converted into actual words. Once everything was in place, we turned off the lights, fans, air conditioning, and anything else that might provide noise pollution.
Fire House No. 1 was silent. The air was balmy. We had no idea what we were about to encounter.
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I ended up taking cell #1. A bottle of whiskey accompanied me inside the cell in hopes of enticing the dead to interact with us. The rest of the team spread out throughout the building. As our night vision camera rolled, the cell seemed quiet and peaceful. I could see the moonlight shining through the skylight. After several minutes, something caught my attention. At first, I thought I was just settling into place, so I stayed there and waited for it to happen again. It did, but this time was twice as strong. Something was tugging at my pants. Within seconds, there was a very distinct tapping noise on the bed frame. It seemed paced and deliberate. I called for Zach [Cordner] so he could debunk or confirm the noise. It continued and seemed to get louder and more aggressive. Lasting several minutes, we were able to confirm the noise, but could not explain its origin.
Later that night, we also captured an interesting EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) inside cell #1 that was extremely loud, but at the time could not be heard within the cell.
Meanwhile, Mike [Pittman] was monitoring all of our cameras and saw some unbelievable orb activity in the women’s holding cell. These orbs seemed to be moving with intent, almost as if they were interacting with the camera. We also witnessed an orb “blinking,” which we’ve never witnessed in a pitch-black room.
I wanted to save Johnny’s cell for last. Also known as the “drunk tank.” Jace [Gardenier] was the first inside the cell and reported activity.
Upon entering Johnny’s cell with the bottle of whiskey, I noticed the distinct smell of chewing tobacco. I knew someone was waiting for me and could feel him in the room. Again, as the night vision camera rolled, I began an EVP session. During this session, I learned that Johnny is not the one who’s responsible for grabbing or teasing the firemen. While inside this cell, I documented something that I’ll forever point to as absolute proof of paranormal activity. It started with one simple question: “Are you European?”
As an empath, I sometimes feel things I cannot explain and this was one. I had a strong sense that whoever I was sharing the cell with was not from this country. The moment I asked that question, my K2 meter spiked and I captured an EVP of a man singing. The voice is soothing, but sad. After reviewing the audio, I believe the man has an accent of some kind. During this same session, I asked, “Were you here before the 1920s?” It appears to be the singing man who responds with a clear and definite, “No.”
After spending the night inside Fire Station No. 1, we know the firemen are not alone. Is Johnny Rebovick still serving his jail time in the afterlife? We can’t say for sure. But it’s clear there are multiple souls who either refuse or are unable to leave 714 Pier View Way.