By: Bill Haggard
1951, fire protection in Herculaneum
was provided by the St. Joe Lead Company and consisted of six two-wheeled hose
carts situated throughout the town. This type of fire protection proved
inadequate when on Christmas Day 1947, a fire completely destroyed the Herculaneum Public School building. For the next
four years, different groups talked about the formation of an organized fire
department for the town. However, it was not until May of 1951, that a group of
12 men from the Herculaneum Veterans of Foreign
Wars Post 5168 organized the Herculaneum
Volunteer Fire Department.
General Monarch pumper was purchased from the Lang & Manning Company with
funds obtained from the VFW and door-to-door contributions. The fire truck had
previously seen service in Kirkwood, Missouri, and would serve the town of Herculaneum until 1957. Having secured the
department’s first fire truck, the members began their firefighter training
under the tutelage of Festus Fire Chief Herb Besand. Lynn Johnston was elected
as the first Fire Chief and Tom Robart was elected President of the fire
department. On August 3, 1951, the Herculaneum
Fire Department answered their first call when they responded to a garage fire
on Curved Street.
“fire house” was an old corn crib on the St. Joe Lead Company property. In
1952, the basement of an old Assembly of God Church on Broad Street was converted to a fire
house. This building would continue to serve as the fire house until 1971. Also
in 1952, the fire department began the practice of selling fire tags to
residents and businesses wanting fire protection. Beginning in 1953, the fire
department purchased an E& J inhalator/resuscitator and began the practice
of responding to various emergency medical calls.
In May 1953,
Joe Thornborrow was elected Fire Chief and he would serve until May of 1954,
when Lynn Johnston was re-elected as chief.
In December of 1954, Chief Johnston resigned due to the fact that he
moved to the outskirts of town and could no longer here the fire siren. Tom
Robart was given the duties of fire chief and served until May of 1955, when
Casey Haggard was elected as fire chief. Chief Haggard did not seek re-election
in 1956 due to employment commitments and Tom Robart was elected as Fire Chief
in May of 1956. Chief Robart would remain in that position until his retirement
in December of 1981.
21, 1957, the fire department took delivery of a new 1957 Ford Central 500 GPM
pumper. The department also added a 1951 Dodge panel delivery truck to
transport the department’s inhalator/resuscitator equipment and other accessory
equipment. In 1966, a second 500 GPM pumper built by Towers Fire Apparatus on a
1966 GMC chassis was purchased by the fire department.
In August of
1970, ground was broken for the construction of a new fire station located next
to the original firehouse on Broad
Street. Working evening and weekends for the next
eight months, the department members built the new fire station. The new building
was dedicated on March 14, 1971. For their efforts, the Herculaneum
Fire Department was selected as the Volunteer Fire Department of the Year by
the Fire Fighters Association of Missouri, at
the 1973 FFAM Convention in Hermann,
In 1972, the
town of Herculaneum incorporated and worked out
an agreement with the Herculaneum Volunteer Fire
Department to provide fire protection service to the new city. This contract arrangement with the
city ended the practice of selling fire tags and continues to this date. In 1974, a Chevrolet Step Van was added to
the department fleet to serve as an emergency/equipment truck. The fire
department also added a 1953 Willys Jeep that was converted to a brush vehicle.
In 1980, the
fire department took delivery of a 750 GPM Ford front mount pumper built by
Towers Fire Apparatus. On December 31, 1981, Chief Tom Robart retired after 25
˝ years as fire chief. Bill Haggard was appointed Fire Chief and remains in
that position to this date. In 1989, the fire department purchased a 1989 Ford
1000 GPM pumper built by American Eagle Fire Apparatus Company.
In the 1990s
and early 2000s, the Herculaneum
Fire Department added a pumper/rescue, a rescue truck, a 50’ Tele-Squrt and a
brush truck. All of these vehicles had previously seen service in other fire
departments and have since been taken out of service by the Herculaneum Fire Department.
2007, the Herculaneum
Fire Department hired its first and only full-time firefighter. With the
exception of this paid firefighter, the department remains an all-volunteer
fire department with no member receiving any type of compensation.
In 2008, the
Fire Department dedicated a new fire station located at 151 Riverview Plaza Drive. In recognition
of its fire service efforts and community involvement, the Herculaneum Fire
Department was named the 2008 Career/Career with Volunteers Fire Department of
the Year by the Fire Fighters Association of Missouri at the FFAM Convention in
of 2009, the fire department purchased a 2009 Ford F-550 Rosenbauer-Central
States rescue/brush apparatus. In 2012, the Herculaneum Fire Department took
delivery of a Rosenbauer Commander 1500 GPM
rescue/pumper. In July 2018, the fire department took delivery of a Coast Guard
rescue boat through a donation from the Riverview Commerce Park group.
retired as Fire Chief on December 31, 2017 after 35 years. Chris Baker served
as interim Fire Chief until Kevin Baker was elected Fire Chief in June 2018.
Herculaneum Fire Department currently has 18 members with a command staff of
one fire chief, one assistant chief, one captain and one lieutenant. Through
the years, 141 men and women have served with the fire department. The Herculaneum Fire Department has a long,
proud history of service to the Herculaneum community.