History of Crystal Lake Fire Rescue

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Original TwelveIn December of 1913, the Village Board of North Crystal Lake passed an ordinance to create a volunteer fire department. It was felt that the village needs an organized fire department that would hold regular meetings, fire drills and work together in times of emergency.

“The Herald believes that there will be no difficulty in securing such men, and is confident that the establishment of such a department was a wise move on the part of the board.”

Source: Crystal Lake Herald

On April 21, 1914 the citizens of North Crystal Lake (formerly the village of Nunda) and Crystal Lake voted for the fifth time to unite the two towns into one.

On May 7, 1914 the new Village board appointed Paul Bertram as the Fire Marshal to hire and organize the fire department. He was paid a salary of $50.00 per year. On Monday morning, his first fire in his new position broke out in the stockyards.

In June of 1914, the trustees gave Fire Marshall Bertram approval to staff a volunteer fire department and to buy equipment necessary to have an “up-to-date fire department”. Twenty- five individuals applied to join the department, twelve were hired:

Fire Marshall Paul E. Bertram
Assistant Fire Marshall Paul F. Rosenthal – Chemical Pipeman

Walter McCollum - Driver
Roy Farrell - Pipeman
Ed Schroeder - Plugman
Ed P. Esch – Pipeman
Harry Ober - Pipeman

Joseph Ober – Hook and Ladders
John Heisler – Plugman
LaVerne Lockwood - Pipeman
Paul Roselle – Hook and Ladders
 A. E. Danielson - Chemical Engineer

July of 1914, the board approved to buy real bargain on a fire truck from the Harder Auto Truck Company of Chicago. The truck is priced at $4,500.00; it was built for a town in Wisconsin, which paid a deposit of $1,200. Before it was delivered to Wisconsin, the vehicle was forfeited because of lack of payments. The Village of Crystal Lake was able to purchase the truck for the bargain price of $3,300.00. The Harder is a two-ton truck, with a 72 horse power engine, an 80 gallon chemical fire extinguisher tank, and 150 feet of chemical hose.  The truck was built to carry 12 men and was equipped with ladders, axes, lanterns, wall scaling poles, two nozzles, electric search light, gong, electric siren and two three gallon fire extinguishers.

On July 21, 1914 the new fire truck responded to its first fire at the farm of Henry McMillan near Terra Cotta at 9:40 AM.

Fire Marshal Paul Bertram resigned on March 1, 1918 to become the Deputy Fire Marshal for the State of Illinois.