After sixty-nine years of operating as a volunteer fire department, the Herculaneum Fire Department in Jefferson County will become a city-owned fire department on January 1, 2021. The City of Herculaneum Board of Alderman voted in November of 2020 to purchase all assets of the fire department and take over control of the operation of the department.
The idea of a volunteer fire department became a hot topic of discussion after a Christmas Day 1947 fire destroyed the town’s public-school building. At that time, there was no organized fire department in town. The local St. Joseph Lead Company’s fire brigade responded to the fire, but their efforts were in vain as the fire was out of control upon their arrival.
For the next four years, several groups discussed the possibility of organizing a volunteer fire department, but none of the groups brought their discussions to fruition. In May of 1951, a group of twelve members of the Herculaneum VFW Post #5168 organized a volunteer fire department and incorporated with the State of Missouri as a private corporation. Using post funds and donations collected from a door-to-door campaign, the men purchased a used 1931 General Monarch pumper that had previously served the Kirkwood Fire Department. For the next three months, the men trained on basic firefighting techniques and skills under Festus Fire Chief Herb Besand. The 1931 General Pumper continued to serve the fire department until a new 1957 Central Ford pumper was purchased. Continue Reading →