With the department’s new Rosenbauer Ladder Truck parked behind them, Ste. Genevieve Fire Department Chief Ken Steiger, Assistant Chief Mick Schwent, Mayor Paul Hassler and State Fire Marshal J. Tim Bean spoke about the importance of volunteer fire departments and the strides the Ste. Genevieve department has made at a 125th anniversary celebration at the fire house on October 13.
Schwent, who served as fire chief from 1998 to 2015, gave a summary of the history of firefighting in the city. The department was established in 1894 but records of fire related history have been found back to the early 1800’s.
The trucks, equipment and firehouse were available for the public to tour. Demonstrations of a ladder truck rescue and extrication were given after the ceremonies.
The ceremony began with a Welcome of the crowd by Chief Steiger followed by a moment of silence to honor former firefighters, especially Stanley Schwent Sr. and David Grass Jr., both of whom died in the line of duty.
“It takes a lot of cooperation on many levels to be successful,” Steiger said, after welcoming the crowd. “One of the most important working relationships we have is with the city. I believe right now we have a very good relationship with our city.” Mayor Hassler agreed the relationship was good. He said he fears citizens often take volunteer efforts by the firefighters and others for granted.
Fire Marshal Bean also spoke on the importance of the volunteer fire departments and the difficulties in finding volunteer staff. Bean also commended the department on the progress made over the years.
The ceremonies ended with a couple of special service awards and thoughts from Chief Steiger on the direction the department is heading for the future.