By: Bill Haggard


On November 28, 1952, a group of concerned townspeople met to discuss the formation of a fire department in Antonia. A motion was made to call the organization “The Antonia Community Fire Association” and a decision was made to sell fire tags to help raise money for the purchase of a building and equipment.  By July 1953, through donations and fundraisers such as turkey shoots, picnics and the sale of fire tags, a group of volunteers were able to raise enough funds to purchase the first fire truck. In October of 1953, construction started on a 28’ X 34’ firehouse and on December 24, 1953, the association took delivery of its first fire truck and officially became a fire department.


As time progressed, it was evident that all volunteer fire department could no longer survive on donations, fundraisers and the sale of fire tags. In 1968, enabling legislation was passed by the Missouri Legislature that would allow an area to establish a fire protection district in a second class county. On October 22, 1968, a meeting was held in Jefferson County to review the legal means of forming a fire protection district.


In 1970, the people of the Rock Community area and the High Ridge area went to their voters and established the first fire protection districts in Jefferson County. By 1973, the Antonia Community Fire Association was selling nearly 1,100 fire tags to property owners in our immediate area. However, the area was expanding rapidly with the development of the Village of Jefferson and the Parkton subdivisions and the building of the Spielberg Manufacturing Company. People were moving into the area from St. Louis City and St. Louis County. The new residents were expecting the same fire and emergency services in their new area as they were receiving in the St. Louis area. The Antonia Fire Association was unable to provide this service with our limited volunteer budget.


On January 3, 1974, the first meeting of the volunteer board was held to begin the establishment of a fire protection district. Attorney Jerry Weber was contacted to set the permanent boundaries and to complete the blank application for circulation of signatures of the townspeople. The Circuit Court of Jefferson County was presented with the signed petitions and the court set an election date of April 23, 1974. The volunteer board elected Edward Staat, Ollie Stuckmeyer and Ambrose Wingbermuehle to file for the office of fire district board. The election was held with 175 taxpayers voting in favor and 19 voting in opposition of forming the fire protection district. The first district organizational meeting was held on April 30, 1974, with Edward Staat as President, Ollie Stuckmeyer as Treasurer and Ambrose Wingbermuehle as Secretary.


The revenue from the 30 cent tax levied in 1974 resulted in $39,000.00 for the fire district. Today, the $1.15 tax levy and the half cent sales tax results in $2,279,069.00 annually for the operation of the fire district. In 1974, the district ran 110 emergency calls and in 2010, the fire district ran 1,076 calls.


In April of 1976, Ambrose “Sonny” Wingbermuehle was appointed Fire Chief of the Antonia Fire Protection District. He served as Fire Chief until January 1, 2000, when he retired from the district. John Newsome was appointed as Fire Chief by the Board of Directors and continues to serve in that capacity in 2011.


In 1978, the fire district expanded the original fire station and completely remodeled the exterior of the building. These improvements were completed on property that was leased from the Arthur and Elmer Heligtag families under a 100 year lease. On December 31, 1985, the Heligtag families donated the entire intersection of Old Lemay Ferry Road and Highway M to the fire protection district. On May 20, 1986, the district purchased an additional one acre lot from the Heligtag families on which a district maintenance building was constructed.


Today, the Antonia Fire Protection District has three fire stations with 19 paid personnel, 30 volunteers, 30 search team volunteers and 6 auxiliary personnel.  The district is governed by three elected directors: President Cliff W. Lewis, Treasurer Frances A. Newkirk and Director Preston C. Haglin.