“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Bloomington in McLean County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Bloomington Fire Department

Dedicated to Our Community, Our Profession, and Each Other.

Bloomington Fire Department Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, September 28, 2020
1. Bloomington Fire Department Marker
Inscription.  The Bloomington Fire Department was established by City Council ordinance on December 27, 1855 as a result of a devastating fire that destroyed much of a downtown city block. The city's first fire apparatus - a hand pumper known as Prairie Bird - arrived a short time later. By 1860, the BFD consisted of 160 volunteer members distributed among three fire companies - Prairie Bird, McLean and Young America. The department's first steam engine was purchased in 1867 and assigned to the Young America fire company. To ensure that the new steam engine was stoked and ready to quickly respond to fires, the City Council passed an ordinance on June 19, 1868 resulting in the hiring of three full-time members to supplement the volunteers. The year also saw the rebuilding of the station house at 104 North East Street which included a new bell from England used to summon members. A second steam engine was purchased in 1871 and assigned to the Prairie Bird fire company. On October 9, 1871, Prairie Bird and their new steam engine set a land speed record when they were rushed by train to help fight the Great Chicago Fire. The first horses to pull the heavy steam
Bloomington Fire Department Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, September 28, 2020
2. Bloomington Fire Department Marker
Marker is located at Miller Park
engines were acquired in 1868. Operating from two stations, the department became fully paid in 1888.

On June 19, 1900, the department responded to a wind-driven fire at the Model Laundry on East Monroe Street. For the next eight hours - hampered by low water pressure and outdated Bloomington fire equipment - members of the Bloomington, Peoria and Springfield fire departments battled the fire which destroyed much of the downtown business district. In the aftermath of the fire, four new fire stations - including a new Central Station on East Front Street with the bell purchased in 1868 - were constructed and two new steam engines were purchased. Horses were gradually replaced by motorized fire engines beginning in 1911. The last horses were retired to Forest Park in 1920.

The department took over ambulance duties in 1953 from the police department using a converted panel truck. Considered state-of-the-art for the time, the department's first ambulance was no match for today's paramedic - staffed mobile intensive care units.

Today the Bloomington Fire Department is an all hazards organization whose highly-trained members proudly respond to fires, emergency medical incidents, automobile accidents, aircraft emergencies and hazardous materials releases.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Heroes.
Supplemental plaque image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, September 28, 2020
3. Supplemental plaque
Above the marker
40° 28.258′ N, 89° 0.111′ W. Marker is in Bloomington, Illinois, in McLean County. Marker can be reached from South Morris Avenue. Marker is located at Miller Park, near the war memorial. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1020 S Morris Avenue, Bloomington IL 61701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Bloomington Fire Fighters IAFF Local #49 (here, next to this marker); Rhodes Mill Stones (within shouting distance of this marker); Train Whistle Monument (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Dome (approx. ¼ mile away); Miller Park's Segregated Beaches (approx. 0.3 miles away); John M. Scott (approx. 0.6 miles away); Plane Crash Memorial (approx. 0.6 miles away); Angeline Strode Turner Lamon (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bloomington.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 26, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 26, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 41 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on December 26, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.
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Mar. 1, 2021