Prior to the founding of the Crete Fire Department, all fires in the Village were fought by a bucket brigade, a group of volunteers who would haul water from one of the three neighborhood cisterns which were the Village’s only water source in the 1880’s. After a series of major fires in the Village, the establishment of an organized Fire Department became a priority. On January 24, 1889 Myron Quackenbush chaired a meeting that laid the groundwork for a Fire Company to protect the lives and property of Village residents. The Constitution bringing the Crete Fire Department into formal existence was adopted on January 31, 1889. Myron Quackenbush, elected as the Village’s first Fire Chief, began the process of selecting and training citizens to serve as volunteer Firefighters. Chief Quackenbush also received approval to procure a bell forged by the McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore, Maryland which was used to alert Department members of a fire within the Village for the next 30 years. This bell is now located in front of our Station 1 on Benton Street. A hand pulled cart which carried water hose was also acquired and became the Department’s first firefighting apparatus. This cart remains part of the Department today and is currently being restored. Shortly thereafter, a horse drawn wagon was purchased to carry hose and ladders to fire scenes.
In 1907, the Department had built a small fire house for the hand and horse drawn equipment. This Firehouse was located just west of the current Village Hall. As additional and more advanced firefighting equipment was acquired, it became necessary to house this equipment in various garages throughout the Village. In 1949 plans for a Municipal Building were realized which included sufficient space to house our fire apparatus. In 1983, a second Fire Station was built to protect the growing population and housing in the Eastern part of the Village.
As the population of the Village grew, so did the need for more advanced prehospital emergency medical care. As early as the 1920’s, the Department provided first aid responses. In the mid 1970’s, four Department members received formal training as Emergency Medical Technicians, and the first “modern” ambulance was put into service. Then in 1980, five Department members completed the necessary training and licensure to become the first certified paramedics for the Village of Crete. Today, most Department members are certified as either Paramedics or Basic Emergency Medical Technicians, in addition to their Firefighting Certifications. Today, the Department has three Mobile Intensive Care Units to provide Advanced Life Support services to our community.
Since 1889, the Crete Fire Department has continuously responded to emergency situations within our Community. In 2022, the Crete Fire Department answered some 2100 emergency calls. While we are no longer the “bucket” brigade of the 1800’s, we owe a great debt to all the Department members who came before us. While the faces have changed over the years, our mission has remained the same…to protect the lives and property of our Community. The Crete Fire Department will celebrate their 135th Anniversary in 2024.