By: Bill Haggard


The City of De Soto was incorporated in 1869. At that time, in the event of a fire, the local citizens and businessmen would join together to handle the emergency. It was not until 1880 that the De Soto City Council voted and approved the establishment of an organized volunteer fire department. Thus the De Soto Fire Department was born.


The task of forming and running the fire department was left to the town marshal. In 1893, the City of DeSoto purchased its first new fire apparatus, a hand drawn ladder cart built by a local blacksmith shop. The cart carried hand tools such as axes, pike poles, pry bars, ropes, ladders and buckets.  This ladder cart is still owned by the fire department in 2011. The blacksmith shop that built the town’s first apparatus also allowed the fire department to use a small portion of the shop at 413 South Second Street as the fire station. The city eventually bought and remodeled the building into a city hall, police station and fire station.  The fire department remained there until 1986 when it was relocated to the present location at 114 North Second Street.


In April of 1918, the city purchased its first motorized apparatus, a Ford Central pumper. Ford Central pumpers were also purchased in 1928 and 1935. The 1935 pumper is now owned by Todd Mahn, whose father D. J. Mahn had served with the fire department. Mr. Mahn has returned the 1935 pumper to an operational pumper. The fire department’s first apparatus were all painted red until 1946, when the department began ordering white trucks with red wheels. In 1973, the color was changed again to the yellow color used today.


While the De Soto Fire Department has always handled emergencies inside the city limits, the department originally handled emergencies outside the city limits in the rural areas. In the 1950s, what is now the De Soto Rural Fire Protection District began handling those emergencies.


In 1999, the De Soto Fire Department experienced its only line of duty death when Captain Al Ducheck passed away from a heart attack suffered while working a motor vehicle accident with rescue alarm.


In 2000, the City of De Soto purchased its first aerial apparatus, a 105 foot aerial stick and in 2004, the city achieved an ISO rating of Class 4.


The De Soto Fire Department has mainly consisted of volunteer firefighters through most of its history. There had been a few part-time personnel and personnel from other departments in dual roles.  In 2006, the city took the next step and started staffing the fire department with full-time personnel.  In November of 2008, the city hired its fourth full-time firefighter.  While having the full-time staff is a huge benefit, the fire department still relies heavily on its volunteer staff.


Although this is only a brief history of the De Soto Fire Department, its shows a long, proud history of service to the community and surrounding area by too many individuals to list here.