Our area was initially provided fire protection through an informal agreement with the Lockport Township Fire District. In 1958, the Lockport Township Fire District informed Homer Township residents that Lockport could no longer provide fire protection to our area.
Farmers and residents of Homer Township held a special meeting with the Township Board to address this issue. Seeking advice from an attorney, a special election was called to organize the Homer Township Fire Protection District.
Three people were needed to serve as Fire District Trustees for the newly formed District. Chosen by appointment were Harvey S. Ingersoll, William M. Bengston and Theodore Czimer they were sworn in on August 14, 1958.
Property was needed to build our first fire station. A one-acre parcel was offered across the street from the township hall- where Station 1 still stands today. With no monies to buy the property, Donald Waldvogel (a local farmer and an original Homer Township firefighter) gave the Trustees a check in the form of a loan to purchase the property. Now funds were needed to build a fire station and purchase a fire truck. A special election to appropriate a bond for $25,000.00 was held on March 7, 1959 with 282 voters; 216 voted yes, 60 no and 6 spoiled. Construction soon began with the area residents doing a lot of the construction themselves.
On September 28, 1959 a new fire truck was ordered. Knowing that the production to make a vehicle takes time, the volunteers raised money to purchase a used 1942 Army surplus auto-car semi tractor and a 3000 gallon tanker. With many long hours of renovation the fire district had its first (make-shift) fire truck.
Our first fire totally destroyed the Harrington School, (located between Gougar and Farrell Roads), in the area where Homer Township Fire Station 3 now stands. At 12:50 a.m., on April 8, 1960, the alarm for the fire sounded. As the first volunteer firefighters arrived the building was fully involved in fire and began collapsing. All they could do was simply stop the fire from spreading.
When “the District” was established, the volunteer’s notification of a fire call was by luck or chance. After receiving an alert by phone the fire chief would have to activate the siren at the fire station. Farmers working in their fields could not hear the siren over their machinery, so a rotating beacon was installed on the top of the fire station to assist in notifying volunteers of a call. After the purchase of radios, a dispatcher was required to tone out fire calls to the volunteers. Mrs. Hazel Blasing, (whose husband George and two sons were volunteer firemen) volunteered her services, and from her home Hazel dedicated many long hours.
Homer Township Firefighters were among the first paramedics in Will County. Through Silver Cross Hospital, with the help of Dr. Rudman and RN Worst, the paramedic program became a reality in September of 1974. The original class consisted of 20 students, 6 from Homer Township. Half-way through the class, Dr. Rudman advised the students the paramedic program did not yet have state approval. Students were given the option to stop attending or continue hoping the State of Illinois would approve the paramedic program soon. Out of 20 original students, 12 remained in the class. In June of 1975, 6 Homer Township Firefighters became paramedics. In early 1976 a paramedic equipped ambulance was purchased and paramedic service to our residents became a reality.
In 1993 the Homer Township Fire Protection District switched to Orland Central Dispatch Center and computerized dispatching. “The District” realized the need for a new station to provide improved service to the residents in the eastern part of “the District”. The Homer Township Fire Protection District went to the voters and requested a 3 million dollar bond; it was approved, and bonds were issued for the purchase of building and equipping a new fire station. It passed by a landslide and the rebirth of the “District” was underway.
Working with the Will County Forest Preserve District, property for the new station was secured. Partnering with the Forest Preserve District enabled us to save a great deal of money. Working together with other governmental agencies proved to be both beneficial and fiscally responsible. In October of 1995 the Homer Township Fire Protection District opened Station 2 at 16131 South Bell Road. The district purchased a new fire engine, water tanker, ambulance and 100 foot aerial ladder truck. In order to staff this new fire station, the firefighter paramedics voluntarily took a pay cut, and both fire stations were staffed around the clock.
In 1998 the need for another fire station became apparent; our calls to that area had increased along with the response times. We turned to the Township of Homer, also looking for property in that area. Working with the Township we were able to purchase property at a lower price in the requested area. A grant for a new fire station was written by Chiefs Mike Schofield and Bill Bonnar and the Andrew Foundation provided the grant funds to build Station 3 at 16415 151st Street. The new fire station was constructed, with the masonry work donated by Chief Mike Schofield;the station construction cost came in on budget. A new fire engine was purchased for the station.
In 2002 we received a $325,000 FEMA Grant (at the time this was the largest awarded by FEMA to Illinois) used to purchase new air packs and firefighter gear (bunker coats, pants, and boots).
In 2017 The Homer Township Fire Protection District hired our first full time Chief from within the ranks, Chris Locacius. Currently, “the District” provides high level cutting edge service to the area we serve. We continue to work with other governmental agencies to reduce costs and share resources. We continue to seek out and evaluate alternative revenue streams to offset rising expenses through grant funding for equipment and capital expenses and scholarships for education and training of district personnel.
Our goal is to provide the best fire and rescue services to our residents and visitors while maintaining fiscal responsibility and cost effective solutions.