By: Bill Haggard


A concerned group of citizens of the Hillsboro area met in the spring of 1949 to discuss the lack of fire protection in the Hillsboro area. Structure fires and brush fires had plagued the area and there was no organized fire protection for the citizens. On April 25, 1949, a group of citizens met at the Jefferson County Courthouse and voted to officially form the Hillsboro Community Volunteer Fire Association. The following individuals were elected to the first board of the association – President: E. M. Williams, Vice-President: O.B. Wulff, Recording Secretary: Clarence Wagner, Financial Secretary: Theodore Hurtgen, Treasurer: Dwight Schubel and Sergeant at Arms: Ed Lippert. Trustees included Theodore Hurtgen, Sr, George Huskey and William Scott.


The first Fire Chief of the Hillsboro Community Volunteer Fire Association was Richard “Dick” King, Sr., who would go on to serve some 37 years in various positions with the association and later the Hillsboro Fire Protection District.


Throughout 1949, the association planned for a building and the purchase of a fire truck. The association decided to sell fire tags and receive donations to support the fire department. In August of 1949, a proposal was brought to the table by the Joachim Masonic Lodge to donate land west of the county courthouse on what is now Main Street in Hillsboro. The trustees approved the donation and began developing plans for the first firehouse. At the October 1949 meeting, the completed plans for a firehouse were presented with an estimated cost of $3500.00. As funds became available, the firehouse would be constructed. Several citizens began pooling their money to purchase the first fire truck.  In July of 1950, the association purchased their first fire truck and by 1951, enough funds had been received to complete the firehouse.


The Hillsboro Community Volunteer Fire Association continued as a fire tag supported department for many years to come. By 1965, the volunteer fire association was operating on a budget of approximately $3,600.00 a year obtained through donations and the sale of fire tags.


In 1974, the volunteer association decided it was time to enhance the fire protection in the area and form a fire protection district. By a vote of the citizens, the Hillsboro Fire Protection District was established.  During the same time frame, a new firehouse was constructed on 5th Street in Hillsboro. The building continues to serve as Station #1 and District Headquarters. In the 1990s, an addition was constructed to the fire station to accommodate offices and bunk rooms in anticipation of hiring full-time firefighters for 24 hour shifts. The first paid firefighter was hired in the early 1980s. The Hillsboro Fire Protection District continued to use the original firehouse to store equipment and a brush truck until 2005.


In the mid to late 1970s, Richard J. King, Jr., the son of the first fire chief, took the helm at the Hillsboro Fire Protection District. Chief King remained as Fire Chief until his retirement on January 31, 2011. Chief King had 50 years of service with the original association and the fire district. Chief King led many projects to enhance fire protection for the Hillsboro area including the addition of paid staff, the purchase of new apparatus and the addition of a second engine house on State Road B west of Hillsboro.


The following individuals have also served as the Hillsboro Fire Chief - Jack Koch, Martin Spiller, Lonnie Sellers, Walter Bonnarens and David Besand.


Today, the Hillsboro Fire Protection District is led by Fire Chief Dave Scott. Chief Scott began his career with the Hillsboro Fire Protection District as a volunteer firefighter in the mid-1980s. Chief Scott was hired as the district’s Fire Marshal in 1989 and quickly rose through the ranks serving as Captain, Deputy Chief and Assistant Chief. Chief Scott was instrumental in the establishment of the Fire Prevention Bureau for Hillsboro and has extensive knowledge in the operations of the district. He was promoted to the rank of Fire Chief in 2011 following the retirement of Chief King.


In 2011, the Hillsboro Fire Protection District consists of two engine houses, a fleet of 8 emergency vehicles and cutting edge firefighting equipment. The district currently employs 10 full-time personnel and has a dedicated staff of 20 volunteer firefighters. The projected budget for the fire district is $800,000.00, a far cry from the early days of selling fire tags and receiving donations.  The fire district is deeply involved in fire prevention and community service. The Hillsboro Fire Protection District enjoys continued support and looks forward to what the future holds.