MT. ZION, Ill. (WCIA) – In a town of just about 6,000, Mt. Zion is full of history. Especially with the Mt. Zion fire protection district.
“Back when the town was forming and the early parts of the last century, there was no organized fire protection. It was just up to the town residents to form a bucket brigade or whatever they could do to help out their neighbors at the time,” Mark Wright, fire chief, said.
After several big fires, well known business men in the community decided it was time to form a fire department. In the 1920’s they opened the first fire house.
It’s since grown to the well known fire protection district they have now, and inside is a rich family history of its own.
“Fire service in general throughout the world is rich in families, fathers, sons, daughters. You know, it doesn’t take a lot usually to get the offspring or younger members to get involved in it, because they see the excitement in the trucks rolling out and the lights and sirens,” Wright said.
While Mark is the current fire chief for Mt. Zion, the Wright family being involved in firefighting didn’t start with him.
“The lineage of the Wrights being in the fire service started with my grandfather. I don’t know the exact years he served, but that passed on to his children,” Mark said. “So, my father Donald C. Wright was the fire chief here for 43 years prior to me taking over.”
And it’s not ending with him either. His son, Alex Wright, has been with the department for almost 8 years now.
“Family heritage, 100% family heritage. It’s one of the greatest jobs in the world. I wouldn’t trade a second of it. Especially, being able to work alongside my dad and my grandfather. It’s just unmatched,” Alex said.
One day, Alex said, he wants to keep the tradition alive in Our Town Mt. Zion.
“That would be the greatest thing that could ever happen, in my opinion, is just to get to continue the family heritage and just make sure the last name is always in the building,” Alex said.
Mark said the department is full of great men and women protecting Mt. Zion. Even after the building caught fire, the fire department continued to help the community while they rebuilt.
Which is why the symbol for the department is a Phoenix rising from the ashes.