ROCK COMMUNITY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
By: Bill Haggard
The Rock Community Fire Protection District started in 1941 as the Rock Community Volunteer Fire Association by a group of citizen volunteers who saw the need for fire protection in their community.
The first fire station was located in the basement of Arnold Auto Repair. For 18 years, the Gangloff family provided a place to house the fire trucks and other equipment. Fire Station #1 on Jeffco Boulevard in Arnold was constructed in 1959. The building saw additions and renovations in 1966, 1977, 1987 and 1997. A new roof structure was added to the building in 2001. Fire Station #2 on Main Street in Imperial opened in 1971 and had a bunkroom added in 1977. Station #2 did not have 24-hour staff until 1977. Station #2 has been replaced by a newer facility on the west side of Interstate 55 at 1020 Main Street. Station #3, located at Lonedell Road and Tomahawk Drive was opened in 1987. Following renovations and the addition of a bunkroom, firefighters moved into the station in January of 2009. On July 10, 2009, Station #4 was dedicated at the intersection of Elm and Miller Road. On August 29, 2007, Station #5 was opened at 3749 Telegraph Road in Arnold and in the summer of 2008, district headquarters were moved from Station #1 to Station #5. The Station #5 site also includes a full service 3-bay maintenance facility.
The Rock Community Fire Protection District was established as a tax supported fire district. Prior to its formation, the fire department sold fire tags to support the operations of the department. The first employee of the fire district was Joseph Mayer who served as the District Fire Marshal and Code Official. Initially, the fire district relied on volunteers to respond to assist on fire calls. Other full-time employees answered a “fire phone” and served as dispatchers. In July of 1973, the district began 24-hour coverage as firefighters began staying at the fire stations 24 hours a day.
In 1975, the fire district bought the “Jaws of Life” with a donation from the Arnold Jaycees. In 1979, the district residents voted for the establishment of paramedic service and the district hired six paramedics to provide advanced life support service. In 1984, the district refurbished a 1966 Mack pumper and added a 55’ Tele-Squrt aerial device to give the district and Jefferson County the first ladder truck. In 2009, the fire district received a SAFER grant of $900,000.00 to hire 9 additional firefighters and in 2008, the fire district received a grant to purchase a live burn trailer which is available to any Jefferson County fire agency.
The following men served as Fire Chief of the Rock Community Volunteer Fire Association: Sylvester “Wes” Gangloff, Lester Meese and Joe Wingbermuehle. Chief Wingbermuehle became first Fire Chief of the Rock Community Fire Protection District and served a combined total of 32 years. The following men have also served as District Fire Chief: Ron Fiala, Bill McCredie, Tom Roettger and the current Fire Chief Matt Mayer.
Today, the Rock Community Fire Protection District has 73 full-time employees. The district has 42 shift firefighters and paramedics commanded by 3 Battalion Chiefs and 15 Company Officers. The Fire Prevention Bureau consists of a Fire Marshal, 3 inspectors and an office manager. The Fire Chief is supported by an Assistant Chief, two Deputy Chiefs, a P.I.E.R. Officer, a district mechanic and two office personnel. The fire district maintains training levels for all firefighters that meet or exceed national fire service standards.
Fire district apparatus and equipment include – Station #1: Rescue Ladder and a Zodiac rescue boat; Station #2: Rescue Ladder and rescue jet boat; Station #3: Rescue Pumper and a mini-pumper; Station #4: Rescue Pumper and Station #5: Heavy Rescue Pumper and a Zodiac rescue boat.
The Rock Community Fire Protection District is privileged to serve the residents, businesses, shoppers and those commuting through the community on a daily basis. The fire district does not take their responsibility lightly. Our job is to prevent fire, save lives and protect property.