The Peardale-Chicago Park Fire Protection District traces its roots to the Peardale Volunteer Fire Department which was formed in 1954. At that time a group of concerned citizens met in the back room of what was then the Peardale Market and it was decided to form the Peardale Volunteer Fire Department to protect the citizens of Peardale.
Subsequent meetings were held at the Peardale Farm Center at the corner of Peardale Road and the Colfax Highway. Ida Hatton donated a piece of property on which was constructed a 2-bay garage and kitchen. The first fire engine was a 1937 Chevrolet flatbed truck donated by Art Ring. The Jacuzzi Brothers donated a Berkeley pump and hose reel. Ed Cochrane was elected Fire Chief and the department was in business.
Chicago Park citizens inquired about joining the department and in 1960 the department became the Peardale-Chicago Park Volunteer Fire Department with the caveat that Chicago Park would have to be in smaller letters on the doors of the fire engines. The original station in Chicago Park was a single bay metal garage located behind the Chicago Park store. The building was a surplus shed from the Empire Mine. Jack Mills, the owner of the store and long-time volunteer, allowed the building to be erected on his property and also installed a siren on top of the store to summon the volunteers in the event of an emergency.
Funding for the volunteer fire department was accomplished by firefighters and auxiliary members going door to door on a yearly basis soliciting donations. The suggested donation was $5.00 per year. The firefighters also held a buck stew in the fall and a pancake breakfast in the springtime. The budget for the first year of the fire department was $1,000.00.
In 1964 the Volunteer Fire department decided to form a Fire Protection District. A special election was held and the citizens voted to tax themselves and form the Fire District. In the same election, a five-member board of directors was elected consisting of Chester Ramey, Theodore Clark, Herman Jones, Bruce McDonald and Gordon Henry.
In 1970 the district built an addition to the Peardale Station, turning the original engine bays into a meeting room and adding three additional engine bays on the back of the building. A three-bay station in Chicago Park was built in 1980 on land donated by St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. An addition, consisting of office space, living quarters and a shop were completed in 2004.
The Fire district hired its first full-time firefighter in 1991 and added a second firefighter in 1998.
In, 2010, emergency telephones were installed at Station 57 and Station 257 that automatically dial 911 when the receiver is picked up. These phones are accessible 24/7, with signage in front of each fire station visible from Highway 174. They’re available for use in case a citizen needs to report an emergency and either does not have a cell phone or cell phone signal.
The Board decided to have the phones installed following an after-hours incident at Station 57, in which a board member happened to be at the station at the same time a resident drove up in need of medical assistance. The board member called for emergency services but was put on hold. The 911 phones were paid for out of the district general fund.
The department currently operates with two full-time firefighters, summer seasonal firefighters as the district budget allows and several paid call volunteers.