History of the Hanover Park Fire Department
On Palm Sunday 1928, a fire at the house of William H. Meyer showcased the need for an area fire department. An organizational meeting to form the Ontarioville Volunteer Fire Department was held April 3, 1928. $282 had been collected from the community and nearby farmers to aid in its establishment. Art Schlueter, the department’s first Fire Chief, was given authorization to spend $125 to purchase a 60-gallon two-wheeled soda acid cart from the Maywood Fire Department. This cart, designated as No. 1, responded to calls for help as fast as firemen could pull it.
The department purchased its first motorized apparatus in 1930. The unit was equipped with a water tank and a portable gas powered pump and was funded completely through department fund raising activities. Still having no dedicated firehouse, the equipment was stored at a local warehouse.
In 1933, it was determined each family would be assessed $2 to fund the small department. Using this assessment, the department was able to purchase a third apparatus in 1942.
Throughout the 1940s the area experienced heavy growth and demand for service continued to climb. Additional apparatus, as well as implementation of a fire department based ambulance service, were added. Equipment was housed and meetings were conducted at Schlueters Garage on Lake Street, making it the first official fire station.
In 1951, annual dues were raised from $2 to $5 to purchase insurance coverage for both equipment and personnel. A monthly bulletin, which reported news about the fire department and the residents of the community, was established. By the end of 1952 total paid up subscriptions increased to 83, up from the previous high of 54 in 1951.
Cost of services continued to increase. In 1957, the subscription program was abandoned and the department formed a governmental taxing body known as the Ontarioville Fire Protection District. Under this system, the district was able to levy taxes against property owners of the area to establish and maintain a fire department. The Ontarioville Volunteer Firemen’s Association was formed specifically to help raise funds above and beyond what the tax levy generated. This Association had 27 members who worked as volunteer firemen. Frank DeVusser was the Fire Chief. Volunteer firefighters included:
|Nick Henrici- Assistant Chief
|Lyman Mangum- Captain
|Monroe Becker- Lieutenant
|Alfred Tucker- Secretary
|Robert Ries- Treasurer
|Donald Lange- Engineer
Frank DeVusser retired in1968 and William Gresher was appointed Chief. As the department continued to grow, plans were made to construct a dedicated fire station at 1661 Maple Avenue.
The new station was completed in 1969 and contained a large hall for the volunteer fire department to hold fundraisers as well as train their members.
In 1973 a sleeper program was instituted, which allowed firemen to staff the station twenty-four hours a day and decrease response times.
Prior to 1974, ambulance service was provided by firefighters trained in advanced first-aid or as Emergency Medical Technicians. However, new federal and state laws permitted Paramedics to begin providing Advanced Life Support care to the victims of sudden illness and injury. This new program trained Emergency Medical Technicians to administer intravenous solutions, emergency medications and provide invasive airway management techniques similar to those used in hospital emergency rooms. The program administered by Sherman Hospital in Elgin and managed by the District was one of the first of its kind in the area as well as the state. Volunteer members trained extensively to this service level and provided assistance not only to the residents of the fire district but to the Bartlett/Countryside Fire Protection District as well until 1980.
In 1976, as industrial parks in and around the area began to take shape, the department added its first aerial apparatus. In that same year, the department began construction of Fire Station #2 located at 5500 County Farm Rd. (Stearns and County Farm Rd).
Service demands continued to increase. The district began hiring its first full-time firefighters in 1982. Chief Gresher was hired to begin the transition and start construction on the Fire Station located at 3855 County Farm Rd. This station was established to cover the south side of the district. Emergency equipment was then readily available south of the Chicago Central and Pacific Railroad tracks.
In addition to Chief Gresher, several new firefighter/paramedics were hired and assigned to 24 hours on / 48 hours off shifts. Personnel were responsible for initial response to an incident with secondary response provided by on-call volunteers.
Chief Gresher retired in 1994 and Chief Lockhart filled in for the interim until retired Lieutenant Art Stoike, formerly of the Schaumburg Fire Department, was hired as Fire Chief a year later. Chief Stoike led the department until his retirement in1999 and was replaced with long time Assistant Chief Richard Parker.
In July 2000, due to overwhelming financial problems brought on by tax caps, the district merged into municipal governance under the Village of Hanover Park. Since that time, huge improvements have been made including upgrading aging apparatus, fire station improvements, enhanced training, and additional full-time personnel.
Chief Parker retired in 2002 and Craig A. Haigh of King, North Carolina was hired to lead the department. Chief Haigh brought experience in the management of volunteer, combination and career departments, as well as a vast knowledge of fire based EMS operations. Under Chief Haigh’s leadership, the department has continued to grow and enhance service.
Currently, the department responds to over 3,000 emergency incidents annually, with approximately 70% being Rescue and Emergency Medical Services in nature. Additionally, the department is active with MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System) Division XII providing fire and EMS assistance, as well as hazardous materials incident response to surrounding communities located in Cook, DuPage, and Kane Counties.