ST. JOSEPH, Ill., (WCIA) — When there’s an emergency, first responders are normally the first ones at your doorstep. In Our Town St. Joseph, some of their firefighters are celebrating a big milestone this year.
Can you picture 1948 75 years ago? The London Summer Olympics were going on and Scrabble was being created. Here in Central Illinois, the St. Joseph-Stanton Fire Protection District was forming and getting ready to keep people safe.
“I believe we started running fire calls in May of 1948,” Josh Reese, the current fire chief, said.
Those calls didn’t stop there for the district. This year, they’re celebrating 75 years.
“75 years of all the men and women that have come before that volunteered their time to help others in their community,” Reese said. “We want to celebrate those people and what they’ve done for the community.”
The first station stood where Village Hall is today. The second was on Route 150, and today’s right next door to the Subway near that same spot.
“It’s volunteers that leave their dinner tables with their families or leave their jobs to come and take care of fires in town or accidents or medical calls in town,” Reese added.
The department is reflecting on where it came from with its first fire truck, and where it’s going with updated gear.
“We have bigger equipment, more equipment, we have tankers to haul water to our rural fires.” Reese described.
He knows things are different.
“The materials burn a lot faster so stuff like that has changed,” he said. “They didn’t wear air packs to go in fires. We all obviously wear air packs now to go in fires.”
The 33 volunteers on staff use that gear and run about 430 calls a year. Reese is proud of where the department is going and knows to stay optimistic even further into the future.
Back in November, the station added an ambulance in town as well. That truck has helped increase response times for emergencies.