Formation of Department
After the appointed trustees began their terms it was time to get started forming the Fire Department.
The proposed budget for the fiscal year ending 1957 was $23,085. Included in that budget was money for a deposit on land owned by the Illinois Iron and Bolt Company. This property was located at Spring Street and Green Street.
This was instrumental for the district because the equipment was still housed at the Village. The Village was still responsible for expenses of the district until tax monies were received by the district. The Trustees appointed Earl Schartow as the chief who was also the chief of the Village Volunteer Fire Department at that time.
However, when assuming something as large as a Fire Department, there are many issues to consider. The district decided to rent space from the Village for housing the fire equipment until the stations were built. They also agreed to pay the Village $1,500 for all the various pieces of fire equipment that the Village-owned.
Maps had to be updated and Chief Schartow proposed higher pay for his men. The firemen were paid every six months.
Chief Schartow also proposed buying a new engine. In 1958 a bid was awarded to American LaFrance for $21,777.55 to be paid over five years.
New Fire Stations
A bond referendum was to be set for May 10, 1958, for the amount of $100,000 for two new fire stations. However, there is no record as to how this bond was received.
The bond was issued for $102,000 in April of 1959 and work began to accept bids for construction on the stations. Clinton Peters, Sr. was appointed to Treasurer due to the death of Mr. Schroeder.
Donations & Fundraising
In June of 1959, the part-time firemen donated the boats and trailers to the district. The firemen held fundraisers and spaghetti dinners to raise money for equipment.
On Sunday, April 24, 1960, the dedication of the two new fire stations was held. The VFW donated a flag and ceremonies were held at Station One on Spring Street.
Throughout the leadership of Chief Earl Schartow, many new pieces of equipment were purchased. Every month (according to Trustee minutes) the chief came to the board meetings with requisitions for equipment and ideas to enhance the Fire Department.
Most of the time he was granted these requests. He sent his men to training seminars and classes. In 1959 a Mack fire engine was purchased for $22,212.40.
Changes in Leadership
Things were really starting to progress with regards to money coming into the district. This must have been an exciting time with all the changes going on.
One unexpected change that took place was the retirement of Chief Earl Schartow on July 8, 1960. Nothing was noted as to why, but he wrote a letter of resignation and presented it to the Board of Trustees.
The Board of Trustees appointed Richard C. Paul as chief for the fiscal year of 1960. This was still a part-time position.
In 1961 two walk-in vans were bought with one housed at each station. The emergency equipment was kept on the engines at the time and was transferred to the vans. These vans were used to carry first aid supplies and emergency equipment.
Chief Richard Paul
By 1962 the Trustees voted that Chief Richard Paul be appointed to another one year term as a full-time employee. He was paid $6,500 a year based on a 44 hour work week. He continued sending himself and other officers to fire classes and Universities to learn as much as possible about technological advancements in the fire service.
It was known throughout the area that the Carpentersville Fire Department was an aggressive department with good firemen.
On August 16, 1965, three people were hired as the full-time firemen. David Pearson, James Crotty and Jerry Dziewior. They were paid $450 a month. The number of full-time men was at four, with the majority of the members being “volunteer.”
Fire prevention and education were being done in the schools and at the stations. A pension fund was established for the full-time employees, fire inspections were being conducted and the community continued to grow. Certain homeowners that were not in the district asked to be annexed into the district.
Chief Richard Paul entered into an agreement with Elgin Fire Chief Van de Voorde on a mutual aid proposal that would allow Elgin and Carpentersville to assist each other when needed. Soon after other Villages and Townships entered into similar agreements with Elgin and Carpentersville. These included:
- East Dundee
- Hanover Park
- Pingree Grove
- South Elgin
By 1969 the administrative workload had increased tremendously. The chief was swamped with clerical work. He made a request to hire a secretary and on September 8, 1969, Mrs. Phyllis Bruggeman started with the Fire Department.
She worked four hours a day at $2.25 an hour. Captain John Pearson was quoted as saying that,
Phyllis was the backbone of the department for many years. If you needed to know anything, you went to Phyllis. Phyllis served as secretary to four Chiefs, was a trustee on the Board, a dispatcher and a mother figure to a lot of firemen.
Phyllis spent many of her lunch hours with the firemen and told stories along with them. She retired in October 1995 after nearly 27 years of dedicated service.
The decade of the ’70s brought many acquisitions. In 1971 two new emergency vans were purchased at the price of $5,544. Firefighters worked to convert them to ambulances.
An offer to the Oak Park Fire Department for a ladder truck was made for $6,000. The truck was a 1942 American LaFrance and was purchased in August.
Fuel at Station 2
Vehicles received fuel from various gas stations throughout town. Nevertheless, a couple of these stations went out of business. Chief Paul requested a 1000 gallon tank and pump be put in at station 2.
An ordinance was adopted in January 1971 with regards to having commissioners for the fire district and that was adopted. The first three commissioners were Mr. Edwin Alberts, Mr. Arthur Pringle and the Reverend Glenn Mensing.
Ambulance Service & Dispatching
In March of 1971 legislation was being pushed by the Illinois Department of Public Health to make ambulance service available solely through the Fire Department.
When one of the emergency vans went to a call, they did not necessarily transport the patient. The officer would determine if a private ambulance could be used. If they rendered the call a life or death situation, the Fire Department would transport.
Dispatching was performed by the Police Department throughout these times, although it was becoming a burden to them. The district decided to require the first responding fireman to the station to take the radio. They hired dispatchers to come in during the day to dispatch calls.
Pictured: Larry Campbell, Charles Wagner and Steve Zaccard
Acquiring More Apparatuses
An accident that involved Truck 99 resulted in a total loss. A used ladder truck was needed until the new Pirsch arrived. They purchased a 1942 truck from Philadelphia, the engine blew.
A flatbed truck was used to finish the trip back to Carpentersville. Once back in town they took an engine from “Old Engine 93” and put it in the truck. This truck was used until the delivery of the Pirsch in 1975.
July of 1973 bids were taken for a 100-foot ladder truck. Bids were received from seven companies and three made the last cut. These were Peter Pirsch and Sons, Mack Trucks and Ward La France Corporation. Peter Pirsch was awarded the contract for $96,208. This aerial ladder truck was in service until March of 2000.
Ambulance Service Changes
A very important time in the district’s future was about to surface. A special election was to be held to determine if the ambulance service should be the sole responsibility of the district.
Mr. True of Northwest Ambulance Service came to a Board meeting because he was concerned that this action would put ambulance companies out of business. On May 23, 1972, a canvass of voters turned down this referendum 1201 against 817 for the ambulance service.
Emergency Medical Technicians
Also in 1972, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) became a reality. EMT’s were trained in first aid and first responder aspects. In 1973, Jack Epperson became a paramedic through McHenry Hospital, and Sherman Hospital held their first paramedic class in 1974.
Sherman became a resource hospital in 1975. It should be known that Carpentersville was the first town in this area to have an ambulance staffed with paramedics.
Carpentersville would answer paramedic calls to neighboring towns. The paramedics that Carpentersville had at the time were graduates of Sherman Hospital’s first paramedic class in 1974.
In June of 1973, some problems began to arise. A well-liked, level headed Trustee by the name of Kazmir Palac retired. At that time the Dundee Township Board of Auditors were responsible for appointing a new Fire District Trustee.
A man named James Evans was appointed. As a Trustee, he was concerned with the dealings of the Fire District. He questioned some of the practices of the Fire District and made no secret of his opposition toward Carpentersville’s involvement in emergency care and transport of patients.
He would no longer allow firefighters to go with the ambulance to the hospital. This did not sit well with the Fire District as they felt that Trustee Evans was trying to keep them from providing ambulance service and emergency medical aid. He went so far as to ask the Village to take over the Fire District.
This was not successful, but history shows this was not the last attempt.
Considering these problems the district held a referendum on whether Trustees should be appointed or elected. On February 9, 1974, the voters decided to have Trustees elected. After a couple more years of waiting, another vote to see if the residents wanted the district to provide sole ambulance service was held on October 15, 1977.
A special tax of one-quarter of 1% on an assessment of one hundred dollars maximum was requested. The referendum passed 591 for and 377 against. The resolution passed. Chief Paul was quoted as saying
The prime responsibility of the fire service is to save life and property, and to prevent human suffering.
In 1979 the district decided to sign a contract with Quadcom. The Board of Directors consisted of one official from the neighboring towns of East Dundee, West Dundee and Rutland Dundee, but there was no representative from Carpentersville. The district Trustees had felt they could dispatch more efficiently with their own dispatch center and posted an add for communication specialist/fireman.
On January 11, 1984, Richard J. Paul, was hired as a communications specialist. Quadcom still had the dispatching until May of 1984. Captain Zaccard and Rick Paul were in charge of purchasing the computers, telephones and necessary hardware to get things operational.
In February of 1985, a recruit training class for new dispatchers began and lasted until April. Those that passed were placed on a list and waited to be hired. Rick Paul was thoroughly trained and experienced in emergency dispatching.
Chief Paul had Rick do the hiring and training of dispatchers. They needed to take both written and practical tests. Drills also were held to keep them up to date and sharpen their skills once they were hired.
With the advanced technology in the mid-’80s, a couple of programs were implemented in the Fire Department. The Medi-Alarm system was put in place.
This consisted of a remote control with a base unit that could automatically dial the Fire Department for people with physical difficulties who were unable to get to the telephone. It would give the address of the person needing help through a computer programmed voice device.
This system received rave reviews from the public as well as state and local government officials. AT&T stated that this program was the first in the nation to be used in the private sector. Public relations at the time were very important to the district because of the wary public perception with the Fire Department dispatching their own calls.
One other program that Chief Paul started was a status program. This was a computer-generated data system to track manpower within the district. It was technology and the fire service working hand in hand.
The basis of accurate data depended on the firefighters' cooperation. If a firefighter was to leave town or be somehow unavailable to respond to a call he would be required to inform the dispatcher of his status.
There were three classes of status: gone, slow and sick. These different status classes allowed the Chief to determine how far away from the station a firefighter might be or how long it would take a firefighter to respond.
Chief Paul's Retirement
November 9, 1987, Chief Paul retired after 35 dedicated years of service, 27 years of which he served as Fire Chief. The Chief had many accomplishments during his tenure. Apparatus was updated, specialty tools and equipment were purchased, the dispatching service and Medi-Alarm system were implemented along with many other improvements.
The Chief was rewarded and presented with a gold badge and the district ordered a cornerstone to place in the wall at station one on Spring Street for his many years of service. The Board also let him keep his Chief’s car “rusty bolts and all.”
Pictured: Chief John Helfert and then Lieutenant Steven Guetschow with poster contest winner
The man hired to fill the Chief’s shoes was John Helfert. Chief Helfert had been on the Carpentersville Fire Department in the past, serving as a firefighter and later as a part-time Deputy Chief. He also was Chief of the Algonquin Fire Department for ten years.
One thing that the district Trustees did before hiring Helfert was keep Former Chief Paul on as an advisor to the Board and to Chief Helfert. Chief Helfert wanted to change the present shirts the firemen were wearing. They were dark blue and really hot in the summer. He changed them to light blue, and the “blue shirt firemen” sure appreciated it.
Chief Helfert was also very public education oriented and took pride in the schools' fire education program.
However, Chief Helfert was in poor health for most of his time with the district and was not 100% capable of performing his duties to the best of his ability throughout his tenure as Chief. He requested medical leave on April 29, 1991. After returning for a short time he retired on September 27, 1991.
In the absence of a Chief, the two Captains acted as the authority of the Fire Chief.
Ronald L. Creek
On August 19, 1991, the district Board members interviewed Ronald L. Creek. They hired him to start September 25, 1991. He had previously been with the department for thirteen years as lieutenant and inspector prior to moving out of the area. On his return, Mr. Creek stated that the equipment was the same as when he left.
Blood Pressure Program
Chief Creek implemented a few programs to gain some rapport with the community. He offered free blood pressure checks to the public, and Operation Rescue, which was a door to door survey conducted by the firemen. Information was obtained with regards to the number of people residing in the home, if there any invalids, or any other information about hazards in the home.
This was a good program, but unfortunately, the amount of manpower and data processing it took to maintain these records was too much for the Fire Department current resources. The program was terminated.
New Pumpers, Tanks, & Air Cascade System
Chief Creek also received approval to purchase two new 1250 GPM triple combination pumpers from Alexis. One being a 750-gallon booster tank and the other a 1000 gallon booster tank.
He also purchased a new air cascade system from Air One and updated the SCBAs (self-contained breathing apparatus). The process for getting two new ambulances also was approved.
Carpentersville Firefighters Association
A need for written policy and procedures created the Carpentersville Firefighters Association (CFA). The CFA was voted the bargaining unit for the firefighters after a vote was held and proper paperwork with the state was completed.
This eventually led the Carpentersville Village Board to vote and take over the Carpentersville and Countryside Fire Protection District. This was made possible by the fact that over 50% of the district was in the Carpentersville Village limits. By law, this could happen. This historical event took effect May 1994.
Throughout that year the Village decided to make a change. They hired a Deputy Chief from Mount Prospect by the name of Del Ulreich. He started May 1, 1995.
Chief Ulreich had an open door policy and right from the start talked to the firefighters to get their ideas and thoughts on how to proceed into the future. Changes have been a welcome sight since Chief Ulreich’s hire.
New Radios, Headsets, & Patches
Updating the mapping system, new portable radios and headsets for the engineers were purchased. Three new Fire Department patches were designed and after a vote one was picked.
The painting and sprucing up of both stations were completed and the completion of the day room at Station One took place. A ventilation system was installed at both stations and policies and procedures were updated and implemented.
With all the expansion taking place west of the Fox River, plans needed to be considered for the construction of a third fire station. Chief Ulreich worked hard to get a temporary station in place by the fall of 1996.
80th Anniversary Celebration
1995 also saw the department reach its 80th anniversary. This was celebrated with a parade including 24 pieces of apparatus from 14 different Fire Departments. Civic and social groups also participated.
At Station One there was a puppet show for the kids on fire safety, a fire pole and a smoke safety trailer for the children to go through and play on. Phyllis Bruggeman was the Grand Marshall of the event to cap off her retirement from the department. With 80 years now on the books, the next 80 ought to be just great!