HISTORY OF THE ADDISON FIRE DEPARTMENT (1925-1991)
Written by Retired Chief Timothy F. Duetschle
The Addison Fire Department was organized on March 17th, 1925 and assumed the name of “The Volunteer Fire Department of the Village of Addison, DuPage County, Illinois”. At the first meeting the Constitution was read and accepted. Sixteen men signed their names to it. The first paragraph reads as follows:
“The Association shall be known as The Volunteer Fire Department of the Village of Addison, DuPage County, Illinois and shall consist of hose carts with not less than 400 feet of hose on each cart and shall consist of not less than 12 active members. Equipment shall be kept in Engine House, fit and ready at all times for practical service, and at least one hook and ladder company with not less than six active members and having necessary good hooks and ladders”.
At the first meeting Ed Garvie was elected Chief of the fire department and monthly meetings were scheduled for the first Tuesday of each month.
During the first ten years the Volunteer Fire Department of the Village of Addison was directed by Chief Gavie, and financed by the Village of Addison. During those first ten years the name of the fire department was changed to the Addison Volunteer Fire Department (1927), and the first fire engine was purchased, a Peter Pirsch 500 gpm Special (1929). When the new engine was delivered it was voted to buy a pair of goggles for the driver. Also, the rural area was to be served by the fire department (1931) and the Addison Volunteer Fire Department voted to join the Illinois Firemen’s Association (1933). At that same meeting “it was voted that Ed Ortman ring the bell for the next meeting”.
Louis Heinrich was the second Fire Chief of the Addison Volunteer Fire Department (1935). During his reign as Fire Chief it was voted to purchase a windshield without hinges for the fire engine (1937) and “after discussion on the subject it was moved and second to install a windshield wiper on the said windshield”.
A.W. Kruse was elected Chief in 1937. He served for one year as the third Chief of the Addison Fire Department. Ed Garvie was re-elected as Chief in 1938. During that same year a siren was purchased to replace the bell and the first fire department picture was taken. At the 1938 November meeting, “it was voted to loan our beer steins to the Elmhurst Fire Department”. In 1939 the basic fire limits of the fire department were set. It was also established to require people outside of the Village of Addison to have their insurance policy on file at the fire department. During the 1940 April meeting, “it was voted and approved to join the West Suburban Firemen’s Association. And Ed Ortman was to purchase some Tannic Acid Jelly”. (Used to treat burns)
Martin Moeller was elected fourth Chief of the fire department (1941) and would serve as such for the next 13 years. In the early part of 1942 a tank truck was built by the firemen and put into service. Auxiliary firemen were appointed and at a special meeting on February 3rd, 1942 it was agreed to use the fire siren for air raids and black outs. The following year (1943) a fire house was bought for $4,500.00.
It is important to mention that until this time the fire department existed on money received thru bingo games, raffles and annual dances. The Village Hall was the fire station and the Village of Addison bought and owned all the equipment. From 1944 until 1960 the fire department made enough money through the rental of the fire station and weekly dances to purchase a new fire station (1950) and to buy all new equipment for the Addison Rural Fire District #1. In 1960 the Addison Volunteer Fire Department owned the fire station and the Addison Rural Fire District #1 owned most of the equipment. The Village of Addison had title to only several trucks.
From 1944 to 1960 the Addison Volunteer Fire Department changed drastically. In 1945 as agreement was made to organize the “Addison Rural Community Fire Department”. The Village Fire Department shall be separate from the Rural Fire Department. On June 1st, 1947 the Rural Fire Department formed the Addison Fire Protection District #1. In October, 1950, a new fire station #1 was built on the Lake Street site. (133 E. Lake)The station was built by the firemen and owned by the volunteer firemen.
Herman Kolvitz was elected Chief in 1954 and served until 1956 when Ted Haberstich was elected Chief. At the October 14th, 1957 meeting Mike Puntillo was accepted as a fireman. On April 12th, 1960 the Addison Fire Protection District #1 bought all the Village fire equipment and agreed to protect all the residents of the Village of Addison. One governing body now owned all the fire equipment of the Addison Volunteer Fire Department and the Addison Fire Protection District #1. At this time it was agreed to call the entire department by the name of “The Addison Fire Department”.
For the next five years there were two Fire Chiefs and two separate fire departments operating under one governing body. There were bitter arguments, fights and total chaos until 1964 when it was realized by the Trustees of the fire district that one and only one fire chief can exist. In December of 1964 Michael S. Puntillo was appointed Fire Chief. A position he would keep for the next 22 years.
In March of 1964 a fire district bond issue was passed for $190,000.00 to build the existing fire station #2 in the Addison industrial area and to purchase an 85 foot Snorkel. In February of 1966 the first two full time firemen of the Addison Fire Department were hired. In April 1966 the Addison volunteer firemen sold fire station #1 to the Addison Fire Protection District #1. The fire district now owned all the equipment and property of the Addison Fire Department.
From 1966 to 1970 the Addison Fire Department grew to 23 paid men. The insurance rating bureau gave Addison a class 5 rating. In 1970 the Addison Fire Department moved another step forward and put into operation an emergency ambulance to further its goal of better service to the citizens of Addison.
In 1976 The Addison Fire Department had a tax levy referendum passed by the citizens to provide paramedic ambulance service to the community. Five paramedics were certified that year. By 1980 a third fire station on Swift road was built and occupied by paid firemen. A 24 hour manned dispatch center was operated by 4 radio operators with a computer aided dispatch system. The department had 54 paid men, of which 19 were paramedics, and 7 volunteer firemen. The insurance rating was lowered to a class 4.
In 1982 a 110 foot aerial ladder was delivered and replaced the 85 foot snorkel. Fire Chief Mike S. Puntillo retired on April 19, 1985 after serving 28 years on the fireground. He would return as an elected official of the fire department in December to serve four years as a member of the Board of Trustees. Ralph L. Blust was appointed the eighth Chief of the Addison Fire Department on April 16, 1986. In 1987 two training classrooms were added to Station #2 and all firefighters were trained to state level of firefighter III.
During the next two years a heliport was built, an IBM system 36 computer was installed, a vehicle maintenance bay was constructed, a commissary clothing system was established, and the construction of a new headquarters fire station was started. Equipment added to the department was extensive and included a 16’ boat with a 25 horsepower motor, a hazardous materials trailer, a mass casualty trailer, a maintenance vehicle, a fire engine, an ambulance, and a reserve ladder truck. On October 1, 1989 the new headquarters station for the Addison Fire Protection District was dedicated to Michael S. Puntillo at 10 South Addison road. The new 23,000 square foot facility provides living area for 12 firefighters and office space for 19 persons. It replaced the Lake street fire station built by the volunteers in 1950 and had become a model for fire stations being built in the state for the next few years.
By 1991 Addison received had received an insurance rating of class 3. Vacant land behind Station #2 was leased from the Village of Addison and was developed for a training/burn tower .And all three stations were staffed with full time personnel that operated 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.