The Crete Township Fire Protection District has a proud history of serving our community. The men and women of the Crete Township Fire Protection District are here to serve you. From our frontline Firefighters to our highly skilled Paramedics, we are prepared to serve you. We are committed to providing the highest levels of service possible.
Our emergency personnel is trained to respond to all emergencies such as medical calls, reported structure fires, car fires, vehicle accidents, vehicle extrications, swift water rescue, dive operations, trench rescue, confined space, hazardous material incidents, and much more. Every member of the Crete Township Fire Protection District is a licensed Emergency Medical Technician EMT-B or Paramedic EMT-P. Emergency Medical Service accounts for over 83% of our workload.
The Crete Township Fire Protection District has 46 POC/part-time members that provide fire protection to a population just shy of 10,000. Outside of our fire district, we also provide mutual aid to 10 other fire departments within the Will County/MABAS 27 area. The Crete Township Fire Protection District answers nearly 1300 emergency calls annually out of 3 strategically located fire stations.
On top of these duties, the men and women of the Crete Township Fire Protection District also host and participate in Fire Prevention Activities, MDA, Angels on Assignment and Saint Baldrick fundraisers. Crete Township Fire Protection District also shares their knowledge by offering classes on Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR. CPR classes are held every quarter getting over 15 students per class.
Yearly Call Volume Handled
The District will focus its efforts on responding rapidly to emergencies, providing appropriate intervention and providing the community education in fire prevention and basic emergency medical care.
Professionalism, dedication, commitment, respect, loyalty, pride, honesty, and integrity are all values of every member of the Crete Township Fire Protection District.
"I take great pride that I have been chosen to lead the Crete Township Fire Protection District." - Jeff Panega, Fire Chief
After some serious fires in Crete, a voluntary fire department was established in 1889. Crete’s fire department responded to all fires in the village of Crete and Crete Township. By 1952, a third of all calls were in the township, and they were known as “courtesy calls.”
In 1949, the Crete Fire Department purchased a Ward La France truck and it became a standing order that the truck was not to leave the village residents that paid for it through village taxes. This would leave the rural area unprotected. It was suggested that the rural area form a fire protection district.
It was on November 21, 1952, that the first meeting, for the purpose of getting information relative to fire protection districts, as made possible by Illinois law, took place. The meeting was called by Chief Herbert Hothan and continue under the leadership of a committee appointed to acquaint rural residents of the advantages and disadvantages of a fire protection district. The men appointed were Marvin Piepenbrink, Walter Seggebruch, and Elmer Behrens.
Nothing came of the forming of a fire district and the committee disbanded. In September, 1953, a new committee was formed comprised of Dr. Robert Galvin, Dee Sumter, Dr. E.W. Zagers, Carl Engblom, and August Schaffroth. This committee again was to review the lack of fire protection and the formation of a district. No interest was apparent and the committee dissolved.
On January 15, 1954, a disaster happened in Crete. The home of the Lawrence Homeier family burned. The home was located on the south end of town in the Enterprise subdivision and outside of the village limits. There was no water system to the subdivision and the only water available was in the cisterns.
The Crete Fire Department was called, but Crete’s lone pumper, the Ward La France truck, did not respond. Steger was called and arrived in minutes. But nothing could be done at that point to save the Homeier home. All that could be done was to save the neighboring houses. Much bitterness arose in the community of the fire.
On February 13, 1954, a meeting was called by Assistant Supervisor George Warren with rural fire protection as the topic. Crete residents came to the meeting along with some residents from the area southwest of Steger (today known as Steger Estates), who were all concerned about steps to be taken to gain some measure of fire protection.
At this meeting, an attorney with experience with fire districts spoke to those in attendance. Many were impressed with his comments and revised their views of the matter. A five-man equipment committee was appointed to study the need or necessity of fire protection and the fire protection equipment needed.
The committee adopted the following policies to follow in establishing a fire protection district:
No. 1. We propose the purchase and maintenance of a separate fire truck to be located at Lincoln Fields and manned by volunteers.
No. 2. We recommend a rural type fire truck according to the specifications of the Illinois Inspection Bureau. At the present time, it appears that a Fire Department could be in operation by early Fall.
Signed, Rural Fire Committee: Arthur Koelling, William Haines, Fred Langebartels, Robert Lykken, and George Warren.
On February 22, Dr. Walter U. Miller, spokesman for the Crete businessmen and professional people, asked the village board to reconsider their rural fire protection policy and allow the rural group a 90-day period of time to set their own plans in action. The village board voted to allow 60 days.
Boundaries were set for the rural fire protection district. The area was bounded on the west by Western Avenue, to the easy by the Indiana state line, and to the south by Washington Township. On the north, the boundary ran along the south side of Exchange Street to Crete Road, northeast on Crete Road to Richton Road, east to Cottage Grove Avenue, then north again to the south side of Steger Road, continuing east to the state line.
After the election to form a Crete Township Fire Protection District was approved, the Crete Township Fire Department was formed. At the first meeting of the fire department, George Piepenbrink was appointed the first fire chief and Bud Stockton the assistant chief. Piepenbrink had served as fire captain with the Steger Fire Department prior to moving to Crete.
The fire protection district was divided into six areas, each having a captain and volunteer firefighters for the area. Area captains were Frank Cassara, Rufus Batterman, Joseph Mallek, Lawrence Most, Marvin Piepenbrink, and Harvey Lattz. George Piepenbrink, as fire chief, was to train the volunteers from all six areas.
Being a volunteer department, six wives became dispatchers. They received the calls at their homes and, in turn, called their list of volunteers to respond to the fire.
The firefighters formed an association with William Haines as president, Leroy Hartman, secretary; Tony Renzi, vice president; and William O’Brien, custodian. Arthur Koelling was treasurer for both the protection district and the association. The association would raise money for equipment for the department.
On September 25, 1954, the department purchased an R-172 International truck from Wilke & Rehn of Beecher with a loan of $3,000 from the First State Bank of Beecher and money loaned from individuals of the newly-formed department. The truck had a 750-gallon tank with a front mount 500-gallon-per-minute pump. The truck became known as “old 151.”
Within six-eight months, the chief had a department of 20 reliable volunteer firemen. In January 1955, a Crete Township Fire Auxiliary was formed to aid the firemen in raising funds for equipment. Over the years, their fundraiser's included the Harvest Fair, selling coupon books, and Bunco parties. The Auxiliary also support the firemen at fires, serving coffee and doughnuts during long fire calls.
Soon after organizing, the Crete Township Fire Department became a member of the Illinois Firemen’s Association and the Wilco Chief’s Association.
Several landowners along Goodenow Road, objecting to being taxed for a fire protection district, presented a petition to withdraw from the fire department after they learned they would be provided fire protection by the Beecher Fire Department.
It was in March, 1955, that action was taken by Judge Cowing allowing the petitioners to sign an agreement which allowed them to withdraw from the district. Some of the property has been petitioned back into the district by new owners, but some still lies outside the Crete Township Fire Protection District and Beecher’s Fire Department.
In 1957, the firemen raised funds from their annual picnic and purchased a second pumper, an 1,800 gallon tanker, and additional equipment. The truck, a 1938 Chevrolet, was purchased from the Steger Fire Department. It was used as a stand-by truck during fire calls and was a lightweight truck for fighting grass and brush fires.
In 1958, a 1,000-gallon capacity portable tank and a portable pump were purchased. Since there are no water hydrants in the township, the water in the tanker is pumped into the canvas tank for water to fight the fires while the firemen refill their tanker from their water source.
In 1960, the firemen bought a one-acre plot of land on Dixie Highway across from the race track from Herman A. Trolenberg and began plans to construct a four-stall barn to store their fire equipment. The firehouse was built by R & G Carlson Construction Company of Steger at a cost of $39,000.
By the late 1960’s, the fire department began receiving emergency calls other than field or structure fires, namely falls and illnesses. They felt it was necessary to provide services for these calls.
The law stated that they could do no more than transport patients unless they became an ambulance district. Any medical assistance would require paramedics or EMT’s onboard the ambulance.
In 1978, the first ambulance was purchased for inhalator calls. The ambulance was purchased with Revenue Sharing Funds through the Crete Township Board of Trustees.
Fire Station I was enlarged with office space, and was dedicated on June 23, 1985, to William Halfeldt, who was the first and only man to die in the line of duty, having passed away in July, 1971. Two plaques were purchased. One was mounted on the new wing of the firehouse and one was given to the Halfeldt family.
In 1972, the firemen placed 300 fire number signs at the driveways of all township residents to identify each place of residence. The signs matched the location on a fire map in the station. The identification signs were purchased from the Reflecto Products Company.
The township was divided into four fire districts for fire phones which, in 1972, were manned by fireman’s wives who served as volunteer dispatchers. They were Charlotte Koelling, Pat Vanderbilt, Lois Claus, and Bernice Dohmeyer.
By 1975, Crete Township joined the Monee Dispatch Service, and ladies were hired as dispatchers and earned $75 per month. In November, 1974, the department purchased a new International 200 4 x 4 truck called Truck #5. They also purchased a 7,500 watt generator with an electric start.
In 1975, the fire department purchased land on the northwest corner of Exchange Street and Klemme Road, on which they erected a second fire station for the purpose of cutting travel time to the eastern part of the township.
The new station was 50 feet wide and 760 feet long with four stalls for equipment, a small office, and a large working area. The Batterman brothers on Bemis Road donated clay and dirt fill for the driveway and parking area; Do-All Excavation was awarded the hauling contract; Norman Electric of Crete brought the electric from across the road to the station; the firemen, themselves, installed the electricity in the building. Ray’s Heating of Beecher installed the heating; and Jerry Lisinski of Willowbrook Estates installed the plumbing.
By 1975, the department’s equipment consisted of five pumpers, two tankers, and an ambulance. The department could respond to structure fires with 6,000 gallons of water. There were 27 firemen on call. The fire station and all firemen were equipped with adequate radio receiving equipment.
On December 15, 1979, the Crete Rural Fire Protection District held a referendum to levy a tax for the purpose of creating an ambulance district. Although it was a light turnout, the referendum was approved, upon the approval; a Mobile Intensive Care (Paramedic) Unit was set up. The Telemetry equipment (a demonstrator system) was purchased from Midwest Bio-Telemetry Systems, Inc., for $9,000.
By 1979, the Crete Township Fire Department had nine Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) and one paramedic. Two more were enrolled in EMT classes and one EMT was enrolled in the Paramedic program.
The district had just entered into a mutual aid agreement with the fire departments from the villages of Crete, Park Forest South (now University Park), and Steger to provide Paramedics to the Crete Township Fire Department during emergency situations with Crete Township providing the Mobile Intensive Care Units(MICU’s).
In 1982, the department received $9,500 from Revenue Sharing Funds and purchased a Lucas Rescue Tool, used to extricate auto accident victims from their cars and a hose dryer for Station II.
Property owners west of Station II, Genevieve Meyer, Sandra Jean Jorden, and Nancy Ann Jefferson, donated to the department approximately .7 acres in February 1994, to make a second entrance to the firehouse, this one from Exchange Street.
Until 1995, the three trustees for the fire department board were appointed by Will County Judges. Today, they are elected to the trustee position and serve a three-[removed]year term.
In 1997, Station II was rebuilt and enlarged for additional space and firemen’s quarters. Although still a volunteer fire department, two paramedic firefighters were hired Monday-Friday who are on call with a volunteer or paid-on-call man during daytime hours, while Crete Township volunteers are at their regular jobs. Crete Township volunteers cover weekends.
Today, the fire department has two fire stations, eleven pieces of fire apparatus, and two ambulances, 30 paid-on-call volunteer firemen, six paid Paramedics working 24/48’s and a long list of part-time men and women who fill in from other departments on their time off. All firemen carry pagers and all officers have radios and Nextel phones. All fire and ambulance calls are now related to the department through the 9-1-1 emergency system.
The following have served as fire chief of Crete Township Fire Protection District: George Piepenbrink from 1954-56, Anthony Renzi from 1956-61, Norman Stuenkel from 1961-66, Orville Harms from 1966-72, Wayne Most from 1972-87, Don Muehring from 1987-98, Jerry Meyer from 1998-2006, and Jeff Panega from 2006-present.