West Peoria
Fire Protection District

“It is with deep regret and great sadness that the West Peoria Fire Department announces that retired West Peoria Fire Chief Robert Stecher passed away on 1/11/15 at his home with family at his side following a brief illness.  Stecher served 25 years as fire chief, from July of 1987 until July 2012. He was appointed as a Trustee for the West Peoria Fire Protection District in April of 2012, and continued in that position until his passing. Stecher’s career spanned over 44 years with the West Peoria Fire Department.Bob Stecher was appointed a trainee in May of 1970 and worked his way through the ranks of firefighter, engineer, captain and assistant chief prior to becoming the fire chief. He was also one of the first emergency medical technicians on the department and was an active EMT throughout his career. 

Stecher was active in many fire-related organizations, including the Central Illinois Fire Investigators Association, Peoria County Fire Association, Peoria County Fire Chiefs Association, Illinois Fire Chiefs Association, Illinois Firefighters Association, and International Association of Arson Investigators, Inc.

Stecher received numerous awards and accommodations over his years, including Fire Chief Emeritus as awarded by the Illinois Association of Fire Chiefs, American Red Cross Heartland Heroes Award, Hometown Hero Award presented by Gov. Jim Edgar, West Peoria’s Emergency Medical Technician of the Year Award and Firefighter of the Year Award.

         Stecher, the longest-serving fire chief in West Peoria’s history, was 63 years old. He leaves behind his wife Carol, three children and five grandchildren.”
He gave of his time and energy, both physical and emotional, for the well being of others.  We will certainly miss his guidance, knowledge and dedication to the fire service, but most of all we will miss his friendship.  Bob was a great leader and mentor, but also a good friend.  His passing leaves a hole in our hearts," stated West Peoria Fire Chief Terry Schadt,
"Bob embodied the volunteer spirit with dedication in serving his community, neighbors, family, and friends," stated West Peoria Fire Protection District President Joel Van Ness. "He would often leave family dinners and events--birthdays, Christmas parties--to respond to the fire house.""He freely volunteered his time, after (or interrupting) a full day's work at his family business and would spend countless hours answering the call on a moment's notice," stated Van Ness.    Stecher was a third generation owner of Stecher's Automotive, Inc. 

Funeral Arrangements
Firefighter walk-through at the visitation will be Friday, January 16, 2015 at 6:45 p.m. with line up at 6:30 p.m. in the parish hall.  Firefighters are asked to report to the parish hall upon arrival at the church.  Visitation will be from 3 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.at St. Ann's Church, 1010 Louisa St., Peoria, IL 61605
Departments wishing to send apparatus for the funeral, the funeral will be Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 9:00 a.m..   Funeral procession will be from St. Ann's Church and will take the following route: West on Antoinette, North on Western Avenue, West on Moss Avenue, North on Waverly (past the West Peoria fire house where there will be a missing man formation), East on Heading Avenue to St. Joseph Cemetery, 2105 N Heading Avenue, West Peoria, IL 61604.  

Link to Wright and Salmon webpage for obituary: http://www.wrightandsalmon.com
Link to Peoria Journal Star article: http://www.pjstar.com/article/20150111/NEWS/150119909/1995/NEWS
Link to article on Stecher's retirement as fire chief

Following article from the West Peoria Residents' Association West Peoria News

New WPFD Chief Named

On July 1,2012, a new chief took charge of the West Peoria Fire Department. Terry Schadt is now in the top spot at the department, replacing Robert Stecher. Stecher retired on June 30 and now serves on the Board of Trustees for the Fire Protection District.

Schadt joined the WPFD in March 1980. He has served as first assistant chief since 2004. With Schadt’s promotion to chief, other officers have also moved up in rank. Jim Stecher moves to first assistant chief, and Bob Harris has been promoted from captain to second assistant chief. Engineer Dan Wilson has filled the open captain position, joining Mark Stecher, Dan Kerns and Rob Stecher.

“I’m honored to be chosen as the new chief to continue leading this outstanding department,” said Schadt. “I look forward to working with the officers, firefighters and the Ladies Auxiliary to serve the community.”

West Peoria residents will have a chance to meet Schadt and other members of the WPFD at the department’s annual Family Day on September 16 from noon until 3 p.m. Bring the whole family to learn about fire safety, take rides on a fire truck and more. Family Day will mark the first day for Hog Roast ticket sales. The Hog Roast will be held October 21 and is the single largest fundraiser for the volunteer department each year. Keep and eye out for firefighters selling tickets, and look for more information in the October issue of the West Peoria News.

The beginning of summer has been busy for the West Peoria Fire Department. In May, the WPFD responded to 44 calls. There was one structure fire, one vehicle fire and three calls for mutual aid to other local fire departments. The total number of calls went up slightly in June, with 46 total responses. No structure fires were reported that month, but firefighters did respond to one hazardous materials call and 33 emergency medical response calls.


Bob Stecher Retires as Fire Chief

Long time Fire Chief Robert Stecher retired after 25 years as chief and 42 years as a firefighter.  Stecher will remain active with the department as a trustee of the Fire Protection District.  Terry Schadt was promoted to fire chief effective July 1, 2012.  Jim Stecher was promoted to first assistant chief and Bob Harris to second assistant chief.  First Engineer Dan Wilson was promoted to captain, joining Mark Stecher, Dan Kerns, and Rob Stecher.  

Following article from the West Peoria Residents' Association West Peoria News
Everyone who lives in West Peoria knows the sound of the siren. When we hear the siren blare, it means that a call for help has been dispatched to the West Peoria Fire Department (WPFD). We know that volunteers race to the firehouse to don their gear and head to the scene. Our community can sleep at night knowing that the dedicated men and women answer the sound of that siren to help protect lives and property in West Peoria.
An era is ending for the WPFD this year, as Chief Robert Stecher becomes a trustee for the Fire Protection District. He’s held the top spot at the department for 25 years and been a firefighter for more than 40, answering the call of the siren thousands of times.
“I remember when the Giant Store caught fire over at Madison Park (Shopping Center),” Stecher said. “It was a big fire – my first one.”
It was May 1970 when Stecher joined the fire department. That large store fire came just a few months after Stecher attended his first WPFD drill. Sometimes, things in life come full circle. More than 40 years later, he saw another store burn when Haddad’s caught fire on December 31, 2010.
Stecher advanced through the WPFD ranks quickly, becoming a captain only a few years after he started and rising to an assistant chief’s position in 1977. He credits the leaders who came before him for teaching him the ropes.
“Cooney (Conrad) Best was chief when I started and Hoy (Turner) took over 1977,” he remembers. “Hoy was one of our best instructors. He was really good at teaching.”
Stecher became chief in 1987, and he made sure that he didn’t drop the ball that Turner passed on to him for the training. He takes pride in having maintained that training program and increasing the number of trained WPFD Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) over the years.
“The first EMTs came on the department right around the time I started,” said Stecher. “I became one of the first ones, and by 1973 we had another six or eight. We started the ambulance service in 1977. Today, we have about 18 EMTs.”
Stecher has received numerous honors during his tenure with the department. Those include being named Firefighter of the Year, being named a Heartland Hero by the American Red Cross and being named a Hometown Hero – an award that was presented to him by Governor Jim Edgar. But, when you ask Stecher what he thinks of most when he looks back, it’s not the awards and honors.
“Some calls just stay with you,” he said with a catch in his voice. “Some of them - it’s like they happened yesterday. They don’t go away.” Stecher still thinks about a fire that claimed lives at Saint Joseph’s Home many years ago. He thinks about the fire that cut short the life of Bradley student Danny Dahlquist. He thinks about the people he couldn’t help, despite his best efforts and the heroic actions of the men and women who serve with him.
A desire to help his community propelled Stecher to join the department all those years ago. Today, the department runs more than 400 calls annually. The majority of those calls are for emergency medical response.
“People don’t know how much time is involved. A typical ambulance call takes at least an hour to an hour and a half round-trip, plus you have to do the paperwork,” Stecher said. “The paperwork alone is a big responsibility. We used to fill out a four by six inch card for each call. Now, it’s four to six pages per report.” Add in the twice weekly drills, and the WPFD volunteers can easily spend hundreds of hours each year away from their friends and families.
Stecher takes pride in knowing that the WPFD has become a Stecher family tradition. Stecher’s son, Rob, has earned the rank of captain, having risen from the ranks as a cadet. Each of his brothers has volunteered for the WFPD over the years. Two brothers still serve, with Jim an assistant chief and Mark a captain. Jim’s son, Steven, became a firefighter for the City of Peoria after several years on the West Peoria Fire Department. Now, after more than a quarter of a century, Stecher is hanging up his chief’s helmet for good. A new chief will be named officially in the weeks ahead. Stecher won’t have to keep his bunkers handy anymore. He won’t have to worry about forgetting to silence a WPFD pager when he goes to church. He won’t have to answer the siren’s call during a nice dinner or in the middle of the night. The West Peoria Residents’ Association extends its sincere appreciation to Stecher for his many years of service. We wish him good luck and a good night’s sleep.

Peoria Journal Star article link about Stecher's retirement 

The City of West Peoria is served by the West Peoria Fire Protection District, a special district separate from the City. The Fire Department is staffed by over 40 highly-trained volunteers who provide fire suppression, rescue operations, emergency medical services, fire prevention and are active in community involvement activities. The West Peoria Fire Protection District serves approximatley 5,000 residents in a mostly residential district, covering 1 1/4 square miles. The West Peoria Fire Protection District is a member of MABAS Division 36.

West Peoria Fire Protection District
406 N. Waverly Ave.
West Peoria, IL 61604
 Emergencies Call: 911   

•    Non-emergencies    

Call: 1-800-517-5678    •   Administration  Call: 309-674-6615

The West Peoria Fire Department trains twice a week:

Wednesday Evening 7pm - 9pm

Sunday Morning 10am - Noon

EMS trainings are open to all PAEMS providers, please call ahead

Volunteers are always needed!


If you are interested,

please contact

Chief Terry Schadt


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