DE SOTO FIRE DEPARTMENT
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
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
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
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.