History

 
1928: We were officially formed as the St. Clair Volunteer Fire Department with J. C. Whitsett as the first Chief. The early beginnings had a two man hose cart that was stored at City Hall on Mill Hill Road (corner of Mill Hill and Sherman). To support the department the first fundraising picnic was held on the LE Roberts lot on Route 66 and Porterford Road (East Central Realty - Commercial & Kitchell). Mrs. Tessie Johnson went from farm to farm seeking the donation of chickens. Some 48 chickens were collected, killed, plucked and dressed for the frying pan. Plate lunches were sold for 50¢ and the proceeds were $395.96.


1929: October 15th the Casey block burned from the railroad tracks to the Methodist parsonage. Union sent men and equipment, but the water supply was very inadequate and nothing could be done. The editor of the St. Clair Chronicle, Sam Fleming, wrote that "St. Clair had nothing with which to fight fires, but men without water." Mr. William Casey had St. Clair Lumber Company start reconstruction and new occupants moved in the next May. The old records aren't real clear, but Charles Neiheiser, Fred Otten, PE Rauscher and Hugh Briegleb were shown as holding the office of Chief from 1929 until 1933. Hugh later served as City Marshal for many years.


1930: The lack of equipment came to the forefront and a bond issue was proposed to purchase a new fire truck. On February 28th, the issue was voted down. The town board did purchase a second hose cart and 250' of 2" hose.


1931: The two carts were stored in tin sheds, one behind the Methodist Church and the other on a lot across from International Shoe Company (Belmont's Furniture House). June 23rd, the Methodist Church and parsonage burned. Public pressure was brought on the Department to acquire better equipment. A used 1922 Model T Ford was purchased from a department in Illinois. It was housed in Charlie Neiheiser's blacksmith shop (Judy's Bar). To keep the battery charged, various firefighters would take it home and bring it with them when there was a fire.


1932: Model T was traded to Central Fire Truck Company, St. Louis, for a new 1932 Ford 250 gallon pumper.


1934: St. Clair Volunteer Fire Department became a charter member of the Franklin/Gasconade Firefighters Association. Our chief, Fred Rauscher was voted as the Association's 1st Vice President. Fred served as Chief until July of 1938.


1938: Fred Haddox was first elected as Chief in July. He served through 1940 in that position.


1940: A second new Ford pumper was bought this year. One truck was stored behind Otten's Service Station (Main Street and Park Drive) and the other in City Hall.


1941 - 1946: During the War years no new trucks were purchased, but a top was added to the open cab 1932 Ford. Russ Cheatham served as Chief 1941 to 1942.


1942: The St. Clair Theater (Shelly's Sports Cars) burned. Lawrence Sullivan and RJ "Bus" King (later a State Representative from St. Louis County) were almost killed when someone charged an unattended 2½" hose line. Denzil Wilson became chief in 1942 and served through 1946.

1947: Jim Zumwalt was first elected as Chief in 1947 serving through 1953. He later served as Chief in 1973 and 1974.


1949: January 11th, work was completed for a new firehouse at South Main & East Springfield at a cost of $5,000. The 1st fire siren was installed adjacent to the building. The telephone operators would set off the siren when a call came in. They would also tell you what the call was if you knew that month's code word. Picnics were still the main fundraising event. They continued to be held at Commercial & Kitchell until they moved to the St. Clare Catholic school grounds.


1951: The picnic grossed $3,400 with $2,000 that could be used for the Department. Other fund raising included card parties, the annual fire seal appeal and other miscellaneous donations. Often times there wasn't enough money to pay all the bills, particularly near the end of the year and some businesses had to wait for more donations to come in.


1953: The 1933 Ford was traded in to Central Fire Truck Company for a new GMC 500 gallon pumper for a cost of $9,600. Truck #3.


1954: The first brush jeep in the area was purchased from Central for $3,400. It was on a Willys Jeep chassis with a pto driven Ghorman-Rupp pump. Truck #4. Eddie Fellenz became our longest serving Chief in 1954 holding the office through 1965.


1956: The Lonedell area chose to split away to form the Lonedell Fire Department.


1957: The 1940 Ford was traded to Central for a new GMC 500 gallon pumper. Truck #5.


1959: The Commercial Hotel (Jim's Car Sales) burned on September 5. This hotel was built in 1904 after another hotel had also burned down on that site.


1962: The Department borrowed $10,000 to construct an addition onto the firehouse. Fireman and other volunteer help, constructed the building. Also in that year the Junior Department was started. As now, members were between 14 and 18 years of age. Some of the first Juniors were Eddie Sanders, Randy Erbes, Leo Cates, Tom Townsend, Tom Obermark, Richard Bachmann, Chuck Berkel, Tom Mitchell, and George Harper.


1963: Déjà vu all over again. The fire scene of 1929 was repeated on April 17th when the Casey block burned again. The fire started between Monk's Grocery Store (Ennis Appliance) and the Casey building. Gordon Monk lived upstairs and his wife and child barely got out of the building in time. All the buildings from the railroad tracks to Schallenberg's Barber Shop were destroyed. All of the buildings across Main Street lost their storefront windows.


1966: January 23rd, a suspicious fire started in Ed Young's Feed Store (Hoffman's Garage). On February 18th another incendiary fire destroyed WH Powell Lumber Company (Tom's Automotive) along with two homes. The fire could be seen from Pacific and Washington. Later that year, the Kiwanis Club donated $1,000 to purchase a rescue truck, boat and motor. A used 1954 Dodge panel truck was purchased along with a 16' boat and 9½ horsepower Evinrude motor.Bob Berkel was elected Chief and served through 1969.


1967: In September, due to financial difficulties, Lonedell residents asked St. Clair to take over fire protection again. A 1946 Ford fire truck and an International tanker (which was later scrapped out) had use of the Lonedell fire house. (The Ford later got a "heart" transplant with a new Chevy engine) Also during 1967, an International pumper with a 750 gpm pump and 500 gallons of water was purchased from Towers Fire Apparatus of Freeburg, IL, for $21,000. We had 4 Scott Air-Packs (two on the rescue and two on the International pumper). You only used them for a rescue. We had an air cascade, but no compressor to refill the tanks.


1968: March 5, St. Clair High School (now the Junior High) burned. Most of the men and equipment were on the scene of a large brush fire out of town. The school fire was originally reported as a brush fire, but units found smoke coming from the front of the building. The fire originated in the Girl's Locker Room ceiling. 13 soda-acid fire extinguishers were found in the rubble.


1970: A new brush jeep was purchased from Towers Fire Apparatus to replace the 1954 Willys. Dale Sullivan was elected Chief and served through 1972.


1972: A new rescue truck was built by Steelweld for a cost of $9,300 and a used Ford fire truck purchased from Fenton Fire District for $5,000.


1973: On December 27th the election was held to form the St. Clair Fire Protection District. By a vote of 280 Yes to 47 No, the incorporation was approved. Dale Sullivan, Robert Berkel, and Homer Fisher were elected as the 1st Board of Directors. The 1954 Dodge rescue sold for $200.


1974: January 8, the Circuit Court swore in the Board members. Now that we were a District, this would be the last year for the fire department picnic. We operated on $12,000 in 1974.


1975: A White-Western Star chassis was purchased and Towers Fire Apparatus built a new 750 gpm pumper-tanker with 1250 gallons of water. It cost $62,189 (we paid cash). The truck created quite a stir when it arrived with bright red wheels. Also a new alerting system through the Franklin County Sheriff's Office was put in place. Franklin/Gasconade Firefighters Association established a district numbering scheme. St. Clair was assigned number 3. Three digit numbers were used, with officers being numbered 300 - 310. Gary Dunn was elected Chief and served through 1977.


1976: The 1957 GMC pumper was involved in an accident on Parkway Drive (Dave Berkel and Kevin Zumwalt) and was totaled out (although Degel said it could be repaired). Salvage from the truck brought $5,900.Land was purchased for $35,000 for Station 1.


1977: This year saw two new pieces of apparatus. Our 1st Pierce Fire Apparatus was purchased. It was on a C8000 Ford "Cincinnati Cab" with a 1000 gpm pump and 750 gallons of water. We also got a "slime green" 5/4 brush truck from the Conservation Commission (the tank is still in use on 8328 today). A Hurst "Jaws of Life" rescue tool was purchased from John Rodkay (a St. Louis firefighter).Two of the larger fires were the Chronicle Building (Parker's Video) on September 11 and the Coonhound Corral (Frisco & Mill Hill) on November 20. Both were determined to be incendiary.


1978: A new boat, motor and trailer were purchased in November. Charlie Baker was elected Chief and served through 1982.


1979: Thursday, February 8, JC George's Saw Mill burned. The weather was bitterly cold and the closest hydrant was frozen. The 1953 GMC sat on the hydrant in a certain members front yard all night, while he slept like a baby and didn't know anything about it until the next morning (which is rather interesting, since the GMC had no muffler). As soon as the hose was uncoupled, it froze and had to be hauled back to the fire house be thawed out. A second Pierce C8000 was delivered. It has a 1000 gpm pump and 750 gallons of water. It "mysteriously" acquired red wheels after delivery. Land for a new engine house in Lonedell was purchased for $3,350. When recording it with Franklin County, it had to be given a subdivision name; somehow "Red Wheels Acre" seemed appropriate. The 1946 Ford that we acquired during the Lonedell merger was sold to Kimberling City Fire Department for $1,000. This allowed us to purchase a second brush truck from the Conservation Commission to be assigned to Station 2.


1980: On June 3, a $965,000 bond issue for 2 new engine houses was narrowly approved with 256 For and 112 Against (we won by just 6 votes). Farmers and Merchants Bank and the Bank of Sullivan bought all of the bonds and a building committee was established consisting of the Board: Dale Sullivan, Bob Berkel, Homer Fisher: and the four Chiefs Charlie Baker, Ed Berkel, Dave Berkel and Bob Alumbaugh. On July 20th, 2 new jeeps were purchased from DiSalvo for $15,401.


1981: In April, Westward Construction of Sullivan was awarded the contract. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on the next Sunday and construction was begun at the end of April. The Louisville L9000 Pierce pumper was purchased this year.


1982: January 6th, the last Outlook building on Highway K burned. Station 2 was delivered on March 13, with Station 1 the following week on March 20. Both buildings were dedicated on June 13, with Deputy Chief Bob Palmer of Mehlville Fire District serving as the master of ceremonies. On March 15th, Homer Fisher resigned from the Board for health reasons and Bob Alumbaugh was appointed to take his place. Two new brush trucks were purchased for $38,324.


1983: The "old" fire house was sold to the Ambulance District for $35,000 in September. Ed Berkel became Chief and served through 1986.


1986: The Emergency Numbering System was started in the District with the help of several volunteers. On October 2nd, countywide 911 was established.


1987: A Pierce rescue truck was purchased for Station 1 (it was on display in the Pierce display at the IAFC meeting in St. Louis). An aircraft crash/foam truck was purchased from St. Charles Fire Department for $1. It was a 1960 International built by Central Fire Truck Company. It was originally owned by McDonnell Douglas Fire Department. It carried 750 gallons of water and 75 gallons of foam concentrate. In another "good buy" for $1, we purchased the High Ridge super tanker. It had a twin-stick Ford tractor and 5000 gallons of water. Nolan Sanders was elected Chief and served through 1989.


1988: The spring of this year was very dry and two large brush fires occurred. The first on March 22, on Snowdrift Lane which burned some 302 acres. Just two weeks later on April 5th, 293 acres burned on Turkey Ridge. During the summer of 1988, the 1922 Model T Ford returned home from the Harrisonville Volunteer Fire Department.


1989: A "new" GMC Brigadier tractor was purchased for $12,500 for the Super Tanker. On Memorial Day weekend, May 25th, historic Hibbard Hardware burned.


1990: Looking to the future the District purchased property on Highway K at Virginia Mines Road and off the North Service Road west of Highway 47. Dave Berkel was elected Chief and served until 1991.


1991: The restoration of the Model T was completed in March. Its first parade was the FFAM Convention in Washington on April 27th. December saw the untimely passing of Board member Bob Berkel. Ed Berkel was appointed to fill the vacancy. Kirby Banderman was elected Chief and served through 1997.


1993: A new Pierce Dash pumper tanker was delivered on January 22nd at a cost of $198,000. It has a 1,500 gpm pump and 1,000 gallon tank.


1994: The 1960 International Foam Truck was retired due to a broken pump and no parts available. It was traded to Hoffman's Towing in exchange for tow bills. Two churches burned this year. Moselle Missionary Baptist Church in March and the Christian Church in May. Station 3 was constructed during the year. The Building Committee consisted of Board Members, Dale Sullivan, Bob Alumbaugh and Ed Berkel, Chief Kirby Banderman and Craig Butenhoff, Bill Fuller, Larry Hagedorn, Larry Pruitt, and Jerry Reed. The building was designed by Robert Horn & Associates of Washington and constructed by Gratzer Brothers Contracting.


1995; We joined Central County Emergency 911 in May of this year. This saw the change to the 4-digit numbers that we use today. (The "8300" series). A new Dodge brush truck was purchased for $35,000 to replace one of the Chevy brush trucks that turned over. Craig Butenhoff was elected to the Board to replace Bob Alumbaugh who retired and moved out of the area.


1996: The 1973 White pumper-tanker was refurbished as a tanker by SEMO Tank of Perryville, MO.


1997: The 1972 rescue truck was sold to Lakebrink Concrete for $2,850. A 1997 Chevrolet Rescue with aluminum body was purchased from Precision Fire Apparatus of Osage Beach for Station 2. A new pumper for Station 2 - a Pierce 1,000 gpm was delivered in January at a cost of $213,000. Eric Hinson was elected to the Board of Directors.


1998: A 1998 Freightliner tractor was purchased for $62,293. The old GMC was sold to John Chapman for $5,000. In another deja vu all over again, Shelly's Sports Cars (St. Clair Theater) burned on January 17th. St. Clair One Stop (S. Commercial & N. Main) burned in April. Jim Alsop was elected Chief.


1999: A new Pierce Sabre 1,000 gpm pumper was purchased for Station 3 at a cost of $242,000. In addition 2 new rescue boats were purchased. A year early, the bonds for Station 1 and 2 were retired in a ceremonial bond burning. Kirby Banderman was elected to the Board of Directors.


2000: One more step toward the future, the Board purchased property on Hwy 47 South from Steve Hoff for $13,000. The property in town off Hwy 47 North was sold to Warrenton Oil for $18,000. May saw the 15th rain on a Sunday morning. During the flood the Dodge brush truck was caught by the rising water and totaled out. A 1-ton Ford was purchased from Gerry Counts Ford to replace it.


2001: A new Pierce pumper-tanker was purchased for $370,823. It was assigned to Station 2 and has a 1,500 gpm pump and 2,000 gallons of water. Station 4 was begun on Hwy 47 South. The building committee consisted of the Board; Craig Butenhoff, Kirby Banderman and Eric Hinson, Chief Jim Alsop; Charlie Baker, Chad Johnmeyer and Marty Strauser. The Architect was Joe Figuereo of Archimages, St. Louis and Lewis & Associates of St. Clair was the general contractor. The voters approved a tax increase of 30¢ to fund day-time staffing and a paid Chief. Danny Gossett was elected to the Board of Directors.


2002: Jim Alsop named as the full-time Chief by the Board on January 21, the first Chief not elected by the members. Assistant Chief Tim Wideman was hired as a part-time paid administrative assistant and Dale Sullivan as a paid maintenance man. Seven firefighters were hired on March 18; Tom Wideman, Pat Patterson, Brad Whitworth, Mike Kelly, Chad Johnmeyer, Zach Fuchs, and Brian Berkel. On April 22, Andy Branscum was added to bring the total number to eight. In July, Tom Wideman and Mike Kelly were promoted to the rank of Captain; our first paid Captains.


2003: Unit 8315 was placed into service in April. The cost of the unit was approximately $348,000. Also in April, Eric Hinson was re-elected for his second 6 year term with the Board of Directors. In August, the Board of Directors promoted Captain Craig Sullivan to Deputy Chief 8304. Also, the Chief Officers promoted Firefighters Todd Walters, Troy Broeker, & Jack Bielefeld to the rank of Captain - 8375, 8376, & 8377 respectively. In September, the first official website of the St. Clair Fire District was unveiled. The creators were Captain Todd Walters, Captain Aaron Aitch, and Victoria & Vincent Ree of Groundworks Software. The untimely passing of Firefighter John Whitworth occurred on October 20th of this year. John was a 22-year member of this organization who was a good friend to many, and his presence will be greatly missed. Our eternal prayers go out to his family and loved ones. In November, the full-time captains and firefighters of this department voted in the IAFF Union Local 2665. On December 9th, the Board of Directors officially appointed Captain Aaron Aitchto Deptuy Chief 8303.


2004: On February 4, the St. Clair Fire Protection District's website, www.scfpd.org, was unveiled to the public. Read the Missourian article of February 4. In March, SCFPD unveiled the Internet web site address on its trucks. See the picture.Read the Missourian article of March 10. Information to follow in the upcoming year.


2006: During the month of August due to restructuring an interim Fire Chief was appointed by the board of directors.  Tim Wideman was promoted to this position.  In addition, to manage the daily full time operations Captain Mike Kelley was promoted to the rank of Battalion Chief.  Deputy Chief Craig Sullivan was given the responsibility and duties of Fire Marshal.  Training Officer Chad Johnmeyer was promoted to fill the vacant position of Captain / Training Officer.  Michael Thiemann who served as the Public Information Officer was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.  


2007: During January Tim Wideman was appointed with full authority and duties of Fire Chief.  Craig Sullivan was promoted and appointed to the position of Assistant Chief.  Assistant Chief Sullivan also retained the position of Fire Marshal.


2008: Starting January 1st, full-time crews were assigned to alternating 24 hour shifts from 6am. Monday to 6am. Saturday at Stations 1 and 2. Due to manpower restrictions, part-time personnel were assigned to shifts as well. Weekend calls are handled by part-time personnel.


2009: The month of March marked another milestone for the district. Chief Wideman was hired full-time and was appointed to Fire Marshal. Chief Wideman and Batalion Chief Kelley were assigned to alternating 24 hour shifts as Shift Commanders. Administration decided that Station 2 was outdated and uninhabitable. Wall structure and coverings were deteriorating from mold and rust. In May, construction began to remodel the interior of the building. Crews were able to move back to the sound, healthy and space friendly Station in July.