From the Cape Girardeau Public Library archive of stories by the Southeast Missourian General Histories

Headlines Reveal History:

12-7-1904 Chief R.W.Stehr puts firefighters through practice drill. 

6-1-1908 Council appointments for city fire department. 

11-13-1908 Gamewell fire alarm boxes are placed at Main & Themis, Broadway & Fountain, Broadway & Pacific, Sprigg & Merriwether, Frederick & Good Hope, and Spanish & William. 

12-29-1908 New fire wagon arrives by boat from St. Louis . 

5-1-1909 Team of horses for fire department purchased in St. Louis by Aldermen Alex Vasterling and Joe Wilson. 

5-4-1909 Barney Kraft is named chief. 

5-18-1909 Charles Hawn is appointed first assistant fire chief at $50 and Lee Albert second assistant at $40 per month. 

5-25-1909 New fire engine horses are harnessed for first time. 

6-7-1909 New Firefighting apparatus is given first test: team of greys responded to signals and made run of six blocks in 10 minutes after receiving alarm. 

8-22-1909 Alex, one of big horses of fire department, got away this morning and enjoyed romp on Independence . 

9-15-1909 Fire Department horses are weighed--Alex 1,325, gain of 63 pounds; Joe, 1,323, loss of 38 pounds, since they were installed in their new home. 

2-21-1912 Firemen give masquerade ball for purpose of securing boots and coats. 

4-15-1913 George D. French and Martin Oberheide are selected as salaried firemen. 

9-19-1913 Big Ben, barred rock rooster, mascot at city fire station, is trampled to death by Alex, horse which helps haul fire wagon. 

4-22-1914 City Council adds another man to fire dept. to handle horses. 

5-13-1914 City fire wagon is undergoing repairs 

1-16-1915 Wooden pole has been installed for city firemen to slide to lower floor from their bunks and men are practicing fancy slides. 

3-15-1916  Cape ’s biggest fire in business section. Call for new fire fighting equipment. 

4-18-1916 Special election for $15,000 bonds for modern fire equipment lost. 

5-23-1916 Another election; carried. 

12-7-1916 New motor fire engine arrives. 

12-20-1916 New hook & ladder truck breaks. 

1-1-1917 New equipment gets first real test at fire. 

4-7-1920 Jumbo, fire engine, is stuck in mud on North Henderson answering alarm. 

2-2-1922 Gas masks for firefighters are provided by city. 

5-1-1922 George French succeeds Fred Meyers as fire chief. 

10-17-1923 R. C. McCarty, service-car driver, succeeds Ira Collins as member of fire department. 

12-3-1924 Citizen of Marble City Heights suburb is fined on charge of driving auto over fire hose. 

2-26-1925 City Council buys new fire truck, $5,400. 

4-18-1925 Members of Cape police and fire departments, who, 6 weeks ago, ordered uniforms from itinerant salesman, are still waiting for suits. 

5-1-1925 Cape’s new fire truck is on display at Harris Motor Co. 

9-22-1931 Petition is presented urging City Council to promptly give Cape adequate fire protection; Council takes immediate steps. 

11-26-1931 City firemen give dance at Community Clubhouse for funds to purchase equipment. 

12-10-1931 Firemen spent first night in new annex last week. 

1-2-1932 Cost of building annex to fire department building, also improvements to old structure, is $5,389.27. 

2-10-1932 City’s new $10,500 American-LaFrance fire truck arrives. 

2-20-1932 Formal opening of new addition to fire department and new truck is held today and tomorrow. 

4-3-1932 Inhalator is installed on new fire truck. 

8-8-1932 Harry Rabe and Roy Smith are injured when fire truck crashes into motor truck. 

8-3-1933 Drill tower at fire department headquarters is finished. 

8-16-1933 SEMO firefighters hold 4th annual convention here. Roy Smith of Cape department is presented with medal for saving girl’s life. 

6-29-1936 Carl Lewis is added to department. 

11-14-1940 Carl Lewis is appointed temporary chief succeeding late R. J. Kammer. 

12-16-1940 Carl Lewis is appointed chief of Department. 

12-29-1940 New fire truck, built in Cape , except chassis, has been placed at station for use. 

1-24-1942 Leland Albert, who trained first fire dept. horses, died 1-5-42 in Arkansas . 

6-13-1942 Louis Hellmeyer, Rose Street , is appointed to fire department by City Commissioner Philip H. Steck. 

9-23-1942 Fire truck, constructed according to Chief Carl Lewis and City Commissioner Philip Steck, has been placed in service. 

8-1-1943 Fire department takes on war job of preparing meals for prisoners in City jail. 

9-27-1950 G.M.C. 750 gallon pumper received; old one sold for $2,500. 

7-28-1951 Fire Station No. 2, $30,000 structure on Independence , holds public inspection. 

2-2-1951 New fire alarm system installed at Central department. 

9-17-1951 New Fire Station No. 3, Emerald Street, north side, formally opened. 

Casey Ransom recalls he was on city fire wagon when electric wire accident killed two fine gray horses drawing pumper. 

2-1-1954 City Council, in heated session, agrees to give hearing to three ousted firemen. 

10-2-1954 Fire Department has grown from volunteers to force of 30 men. 

3-2-1955 George French, fire chief, retires after 24 years service to department; succeeded by Harry Rabe. 

1-15-1959 Fire department starts registration of invalids to improve chances of rescue. 

7-17-1959 Good general history 

1-1-1960 Police department transfers from Independence-Frederick location, leaving fire department in charge of building. 

7-19-1960 City Council burns $165,000 retire fire station bonds. 

8-23-1960 Firemen request ordinance increasing pay on length-of-service basis. Rejected by City Council 8-30-60. 

9-24-1960 Firemen petition for initiative election for length-of-service pay. 

8-7-1961 Special mayor’s Finance Committee recommends salary increases for city employees. 

9-1-1961 City Council orders salary hike for city employees--includes length-of-service schedule for police and firemen. 

11-7-1961 Firemen withdraw suit for length-of-service pay. 

4-17-1963 Police and fire department seek pension plan. 

2-25-1964 City Council turns down firemen’s request for $20 per month pay increase. 

3-20-1964 Police and firemen campaign for retirement plan. Election on issue fails 4-7-64. 

5-6-1964 Firemen are busy readying new $22,000 fire truck for service. 

11-3-1964 Firemen again ask for salary increase. 

8-8-1966 Trucks replace horses - General History 

10-5-1980 Department second to none - General History 

2-15-1981  Cape has new fire house - new headquarters - Station 1 at Sprigg & Independence

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  • 1 South Sprigg Street Cape Girardeau, MO 63703
  • Telephone 573.339.6330
  • Email [email protected]