The Independence Fire Department is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year. On February 6, 1843, Richard Ridgeway Rees, James McGill, Anthony Cosgrave, Benjamin Franklin Wallace and thirty-six other volunteers incorporated the Independence Fire Company. The volunteers utilized a man-powered wooden engine and buckets of water to put out fires. The fire department transitioned from a volunteer to professional paid department in August 1894.
“175 years ago, members of this community were volunteering to protect their fellow citizens, tradesmen selling their wares, and pioneers beginning their harrowing journey across the plains,” Mayor Eileen Weir said. “The men and women who serve in our fire department today continue this same selfless sacrifice, putting their safety on the line to protect our homes, property and history. We are proud to celebrate their tradition of excellence and honor the sacrifice they make every day.”
Today there are 165 firefighters in 10 fire stations across the city. In 2016, the department responded to more than 20,000 calls, roughly 450 of which were fires.
“We are honored to serve the citizens of this community and look forward to celebrating the storied history of this department with everyone this year,” Independence Fire Chief Doug Short said. “For 175 years we have celebrated as one community, one family, and one department. We look to continue this tradition for decades to come.”
The 76ers, a historic preservation group created to support the restoration of historic fire trucks and equipment for the Independence Fire Department, will be selling special shirts celebrating the 175th anniversary. Proceeds will be used to restore and maintain their historic efforts. To learn more, visit their Facebook page at: http://bit.ly/76ersFB.