West Peoria
Fire Protection District

WPFD History


West Peoria Fire Department (WPFD)

By Jeff Adkins-Dutro (WPFD Firefighter)


Before 1939, the city of Peoria Fire Department served the needs of neighboring West Peoria. As West Peoria's population grew, however, it became difficult for the city of Peoria to respond quickly to the increasing number of calls.

In the 1930s a group of West Peorians formed a committee to research the possibility of forming a fire department in West Peoria. The committee found a statute allowing for the formation of fire protection districts. A special election was held in 1939, and the West Peoria Fire Protection District was formed.

Volunteers built West Peoria's first firehouse with materials acquired at cost. In the early days, someone lived at the firehouse in order to answer the telephone. The resident would notify the firemen of a call by activating the siren that stood atop a pole next to the building. When that person wasn't available, the calls were routed to a neighbor who would summon the volunteers.

In the early 1940s, when the district did not have enough money to purchase all of the necessary fire-fighting equipment, the volunteers set out to raise money. One event that proved to be successful was the Firemen's Ball—an annual event that was originally held at Calvin Coolidge School.   The Firemen's Ball is no longer an annual fund-raising event, but that tradition has been replaced by the firefighter association's Annual Hog Roast.

By the 1960s, an increase in automobile traffic led West Peoria to add rescue services for accident victims. In the 1970s, the trustees and the fire chief made the decision to provide the citizens of West Peoria with emergency responders at no cost. Volunteers were trained to become EMTs (emergency medical technicians), and ambulance services began in 1975.  Due to the increasing costs of offering ambulance service, all ambulance calls are now charged appropriately for the services rendered

Since its initial construction, the West Peoria Firehouse has been extended outward and upward in order to house additional vehicles and to provide for additional training and services. The volunteers of the West Peoria Fire Department still spend many hours maintaining the district's ambulance, rescue squad, and three fire trucks.

The volunteers of the West Peoria Fire Department train on Wednesday evenings and on Sundays. When there is a call in West Peoria, the siren still sounds. However, now the signal is sent from the Peoria County Fire Dispatch rather than from a firehouse resident. The signal triggers the Firefighters' and EMTs' pagers, the siren sounds, and from all over West Peoria the flashing blue lights on the cars of volunteers can be seen as these firefighters race to the firehouse. The volunteers of the West Peoria Fire Department, led by long-time Chief Robert Stecher, proudly carry on the West Peoria Fire Protection District's long-standing tradition of offering quality fire, rescue, and ambulance services to the citizens of West Peoria and, when necessary, to surrounding fire protection districts. 

This article was originally displayed on www.historicpeoria.com, a website sponsored by Bradley University English Department.

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