The St. Charles Fire Department has a Long Legacy of Service

Honoring Fire Prevention Week Oct. 6-12, this month’s 185th Anniversary article takes a look back at the history of the St. Charles Fire Department.

  • 1842: A fire destroyed several three-story buildings on First Street and Main Street, including the St. Charles Patriot newspaper building.
  • March 18, 1842: First fire department organized in St. Charles, the LaFayette Fire Company. For the next ten years, the LaFayette Fire Company consisted of a bucket brigade of volunteers who fought fires by passing filled buckets from the Fox River down a line.
  • 1852: Upgraded to a hand-pulled hose cart and a four-wheel pumping engine that came from Chicago.
  • 1870: Their equipment deteriorated and they eventually had to get rid of the hand pumper, essentially leaving only a bucket brigade once again.
  • 1871: A dry goods store fire destroyed all of the buildings along the south side of East Main Street from the Osgood Building to the river (except the Osgood Building itself).
  • 1884: A fire destroyed two buildings including a hardware store.
  • 1885: A fire destroyed the interior of the Farnsworth Mansion.
  • 1886: After a series of fires over the previous two years, including the destruction of one of the oldest buildings in town, the debate for fire safety intensified.The City Council authorized the purchase of fire protection tools.
  • 1887: Three more downtown buildings were destroyed by fire. Pressure from citizens resulted in Mayor Rockwell appointing a committee to study fire protection in the City. New equipment and housing for the Fire Company soon followed.
  • 1888: The LaFayette Fire Company became the St. Charles Fire Department by municipal ordinance.
  • 1893: The first Fire Station was constructed on the west side of First Avenue.

We are grateful for our professional and capable Fire Department and all they do to keep St. Charles safe.