THE EARLY DAYS OF THE HOFFMAN ESTATES FIRE DEPARTMENT

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

The Hoffman Estates Homeowners Association was the only governing body during the early years of the village. The homeowners who joined paid a small amount for membership and the village was divided into blocks that had a representative on the Homeowners Association Board.

Their Safety Committee held a meeting on December 6, 1956 with the intention of establishing a volunteer fire department. Volunteers came forward and that night a brigade was formed. The Roselle Fire Department had weekly training for the men and the volunteers obtained a long-term lease from the Home Owners Association for a barn at 640 Illinois Blvd. The barn was one of the barns on the Hammerstein property that served as the Community Center for Hoffman Estates. The volunteers converted the barn into a fire station by installing heat, sewers, facilities, concrete flooring and electricity. It was the beginning of fire protection for the village.

It wouldn’t be until April 3, 1958 that the Hoffman Estates Fire Protection District was created. It took a special Hoffman Estates Fire Department Campaign that began on Sept. 6 and ran through Sept. 14, 1957 to put forth the need for our own fire department and asked homeowners to donate $25 to help raise funds for a fire house and new equipment. Contributors received a red poster to place in the front window. It read “We Contributed to the Hoffman Estates Fire Department Campaign Fund”.

Unfortunately, a tragic fire started on the evening of Dec. 3, 1958. The fire of the historic barn and the other barns and out buildings raged for close to 2 hours. The volunteer fire department valiantly fought the flames but other fire departments were also called to fight the huge fire. They came from Roselle, Palatine and Mount Prospect. Once it was struck out, the firefighters remained throughout the next day to make sure none of the embers would flame up again.

The wind had carried vast showers of sparks onto the homes along Evanston Street, Flagstaff Lane and Forest Park Lane. Residents said it was almost like daylight several blocks from the fire. The neighbors brought hot strong coffee to the firemen. They were so afraid the fire would spread to their homes. The fire engulfed all of the other barns and the large silo.

They were completely destroyed. Due to the valiant efforts of the Hoffman Estates volunteer firemen, the barn that had become their new fire station that spring had been saved. The fire equipment had been pulled from the barn and water was constantly being directed onto the fire station to prevent it from going up in flames.

Thanks to Art Hagstrom, (now deceased) a Hoffman Estates resident, for taking fantastic pictures of the fire and the heroic efforts of the firemen as they fought to save the Hoffman Estates Home Owners Association Community Center and our first fire station.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Historian
Eagle2064@comcast.net

Photos are used, courtesy of the Hoffman Estates Museum.  

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