February 4, 1869. That's the day the Cedar Rapids Fire Department was established.  Less than a month later, Cedar Rapids' first Silsby Steamer Engine and the first hose, 500-feet of it, was delivered to the city. The total cost was $6,000. Cedar Rapids officially had its first fire protection, done exclusively on a volunteer basis. Firefighters wouldn't get paid until June of 1894.

The Cedar Rapids Fire Department has dealt with all types of fires and other emergencies in the 150 years since and began doing CPR and advanced first aid in 1977. They respond to medical calls throughout the city because they can reach any location in under four minutes.

The video below shows some of the department's history. It begins with the 'Rookie Greeting,' which has been on the walls of fire stations for decades. That is followed by a narrated photographic history, and finally, footage of one of the most destructive fires in the city's history... the 1947 Coe College Sinclair Chapel Fire.

You can see additional historic Cedar Rapids Fire Department photos HERE.

Cedar Rapids will celebrate the fire department's 150th Anniversary Saturday, June 15 with an Open House at the Central Fire station, featuring tours and more. Get the details HERE.

Now's also a great time to thank every man and woman who has served the city during the department's 150-year history in Cedar Rapids, and remember the seven people who lost their lives in the line of duty:

  • Kevin Sterenchuk: March 27, 2000 (Cardiac arrest)
  • Melvin Goebel: May 20, 1976 (River rescue practice)
  • Robert Simon: May 20, 1976 (River rescue practice)
  • Louis Kraut: March 30, 1934 (Truck/car accident)
  • Manual Vlach: December 30, 1927 (Lumber yard fire)
  • George Nelson: August 29, 1927 (Collision of two fire trucks)
  • Charles Smith: July 30, 1890 (BCR&N Railroad Roundhouse)

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