Fire Fighters Association of Missouri
Archive | September, 2021

The Era of the Fire Horse

Hidden within the history of the United States, there is a wealth of information concerning the fire service and its prolific history and traditions. Over the years there has been a substantial change in firefighting equipment, techniques, and procedures. Each of these changes has affected fire department operations and in some cases substantially impacted its organizational structure and culture. An important historical change in the fire service came about in the 1800s with the use of steam-powered fire pumps. Transitioning from traditional man-powered hand pumps to steam provided greater water flow capability for extended periods and better fire streams with more reach. The new fire steamers also required less manpower to “man the pump”. A drawback was the weight of the steam pumper and the ability to get it quickly to the fire scene. At first, pulled to the scene by manpower, still requiring a significant number of firefighters/citizen volunteers, it was quickly determined that a new way of transporting this cumbersome and heavy apparatus needed to be developed. This ushered in the era of the noble fire horse or the institution of horse-drawn fire apparatus. This unique period of horse-drawn fire apparatus only spanned a brief period of about 60 years, from around 1860 to 1920. Though this era was short-lived in fire service history, it had a significant impact on operational and cultural changes that shaped the future of the fire service. Replaced in the early 1900s with motorized fire apparatus, the days of the fire horse and the traditions created by that period are still uniquely present in some form today. 

The addition of steam-operated fire apparatus and the accompanying horses to pull them brought several changes. Less manpower or firefighters were required to produce needed water flows and get the apparatus to the scene. However, this equipment created a need for full-time personnel to keep the steam boilers that powered the pump properly maintained and the horses cared for and ready. This brought about a shift to fewer volunteers and assigned working shifts as volunteers or the addition of the first paid personnel to oversee the boilers, engines, and horses.

We could spend quite a bit of time reviewing how the steamers maintained a hot boiler to be able to get up to steam quickly and safely, but let us just say that this caused innovation and re-design of fire stations with a variety of ways in which to preheat boilers and light fireboxes. It also required the addition of trained and qualified engineers to maintain and operate the steam boiler and pump. This was another creation of specialization in the fire service. But let us continue our focus on the means of transporting the new fire steamers, the fire horse.

Example of a horse-drawn fire department steam pumper.

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Pilot Grove Area FPD Open House

The Pilot Grove Fire Fighters held an open house on August 21, 2021, for their new station at 612 College St. (Hwy 135) in Pilot Grove. This new station was made possible by an interest-free loan from the USDA REDLG program in conjunction with COMO Connect. Their board members: Corey ten Bensel, John Schuster and Gene Eulinger along with Representative Tim Taylor and Mayor Dennis Knipp were present to oversee the dedication.

NVFC Autumn Update

Greetings everyone. The phrase hot off the press has a new meaning in the past few weeks of August. The NVFC has been very active for the past eight weeks. Interim Chief Executive Officer Sarah Lee has kept a high focus on moving all programs forward and securing project grants. The Executive Board set a goal for the Council of 27,000 individual members in 2021. 

This was recently achieved at 27,354 and still counting. This is an increase of over 1,100 compared to one year ago. While all states are members if they pay the annual $500 state dues, it is individual membership and grants which sustain the NVFC operations.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has awarded NVFC another $50,000 contract in promoting pipeline safety. For the fourth year, Motorola Foundation has awarded $25,000 in training efforts. Academy Sports/Brooks running shoes have raised $25,000 for NVFC through sales of firefighter-themed running shoes. Josh Cellars has announced a donation of $150,000 from the sale of limited-edition NVFC branded Reserve Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon. There have been numerous individual supporters with various activity gifts to NVFC. The latest was Marc Warren raising $4,000 for behavioral health initiatives through a 100-mile bicycle ride through the Great Allegheny Passage. Continue Reading →

Deputy Chief Ken Prichard Retires

Deputy Chief Ken Prichard has announced his retirement effective September 10, 2021. Deputy Chief Prichard began his career as a volunteer in 1970 with the Robertsville Fire Protection District. Kenny was an integral participant in merging the two fire districts, forming what we know today as the Pacific Fire Protection District. After the merger was complete, Kenny transitioned to full-time on September 3, 1992. After 50 years of service, we are not only losing a wonderful friend and mentor but his many years of knowledge and experience. Please help me congratulate Deputy Chief Ken Prichard and wish him well on the next phase of his life!
— Chief Sagehorn

Fruitland Area Fire Protection District Update

Fruitland Area Fire Protection District held a badge pinning ceremony to celebrate their first three full-time captains in department history. The fire department had been a volunteer department since 1977 and in April of 2017 voters approved the district to go to a combination District. Since then we have slowly secured staffing and in July 2021 the department promoted Collin Cummings, Tyler Brugger and Ben Whited to the rank of captain.

Collin Cummings, Tyler Brugger and Ben Whited have been promoted to the rank of captain.






Fruitland Area Fire Protection District recently donated $10,001.44 to Midwest Children’s Burn Camp. We usually donate to the burn camp every year with a boot drive but with Covid last year we were unable to do so. We were unsure how well a boot drive would go over this year with covid still lingering around but our community blew us away with their generosity. In just 2 days we raised over $10,000. 100% of the profit goes towards sending children who have been burned in a fire to the camp to meet other children who are going through the same struggles.

Fruitland Area Fire Protection District recently donated to Midwest Children’s Burn Camp.


Warrensburg FF Program Grads

In March of 2021, the Warrensburg Fire Department hosted their first Firefighter I and II program in over two years. The class was comprised of members of the Warrensburg Fire Department, Johnson County Fire Protection District, Johnson County Fire Protection District #2, and Higginsville Fire Protection District. As of this month, all students have completed their coursework and practical skills testing. Each student will soon complete the state written examination. They have balanced their family and work-life while attending. Despite the hectic schedules, they performed with excellent resolve and a high-grade point average. On behalf of the Warrensburg Fire Department, we are proud of your accomplishment and look forward to seeing each of your careers grow. Congratulations!

Recognizing Excellence

Missouri State Fair Volunteer Fire Department Awards

From the Pen of the Chief

Dear first responders, regarding the roller coaster times we had, I would like to attempt to express to you the absolute and complete admiration and respect I have for your work, your service, and the time you gave to volunteer so the Missouri State Fair could function. And thank you to all the generous donations from districts and departments allowing the fire department to use their equipment and supplies. Without you, the Missouri State Fair Volunteer Fire Department would never happen.

You, the firefighters, are not only putting yourself at risk, but you are doing so to help those who can’t help themselves and those who desperately need it. This is something unprecedented in our nation’s history and despite the uncertainty in these times, you have stepped up and proven to be courageous, selfless, and honorable. Remember the first general meeting when I mentioned history? We made it every day because the Missouri State Fair Volunteer Fire Department is one-of-a-kind. So be proud.

Some people are on the doors of death and those who’ve never felt worse in their lives, but they can have solace and comfort in knowing you are there helping them survive and get through this in any way you can. No matter how big or small a job you have at any point, it is a job that the world can never thank you enough for. I feel very lucky to be part of the same nation and perhaps even the same community as people like you who strive to better our world. Continue to be amazing and noble, the world wouldn’t be the same without you.

And finally to the members that were rookies, thank you. I hope it was an enjoyable time and I hope that the fair will do the same thing it did for me 26 years ago. We will see your smiling faces for years to come. I hope the questions I asked were accomplished and you made some of your own, I hope I did an ok job as your chief.

Again to all that made the Missouri State Fair Volunteer Fire Department a big success, thank you. We are a team and an even bigger family.