History of the Millstadt Union Fire Department

The first Union Fire Company was founded in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin in 1736, the first organized Fire Company in the American colonies.  The Union Fire Company became Engine No. 8 when the Philadelphia Fire Department was established as a paid force in 1871.

The same year the Union Fire Company of Centreville was organized, led by Charles Jacobus, Leonard Kropp, and P.F. Breidecker.  Val Brenfleck was appointed President at the organizational meeting.  George Leiber was voted in as President and and Chief, holding this office for three years.  The Millstadt Union Fire Department is the oldest existing Volunteer Fire Department in Illinois.  We are a 100% Volunteer Fire Department.  Other volunteer organizations were formed earlier, but have since disbanded or became paid departments.

The community first derived its name from the overall designation of the area as Centreville Precinct, St. Clair County, in the early 18th century.  The name Centreville remained attached to the small community until 1880.  There were originally two Centreville’s in Illinois and the Post Office changed the name of this community to Millstadt with the appointment of the first Postmaster, George Kuntz, in 1843.  It took until 1880 for the Board of Trustees to conform to the change.

The fire company started out with hand-operated equipment, such as hand pumpers, which the men pulled to the fire.  Hose reels on wheels were also carted to the fires as well as the old leather fire buckets.

A special meeting was called on April 29, 1920 to discuss ways of raising money to purchase an auto fire engine.  A motion was made that the department petition the Village Board for such a vehicle.  The request was granted and by June the Auto Engine Donation Committee had solicited $1,700.  On July 1, 1920 the committee paid $2,474 on the auto engine, owing $900.  The department took their vehicle over to Columbia for a demonstration, because their city’s department was interested in purchasing one for itself.

Reducing the loan was an ongoing activity.  The department’s first Masked Ball was held on January 22, 1922, with the proceeds being $465.17.  Any member not serving at the ball was fined 50 cents (The department once fined members for not showing up at funerals of department members).

The Millstadt Commercial Club helped out on the next purchase, a chemical truck from Mertz Motor Company, in 1924.  In 1925 the department supported the installation of water works in Millstadt to enhance fire fighting capability.  That year a motion was passed to purchase a pumper and the department joined the Illinois Firemen Association.  In 1928 the Millstadt Rural Fire District was created.

In subsequent years the department built a fire hall with a bell, acquiring a siren, and continued adding needed equipment.  Firefighters received training in civil defense in the 1950’s and added a portable generator to their emergency equipment.  As the Millstadt community grew, the fire department kept pace with the needs of the people it served.

A new engine house was long deemed necessary and the first step was taken in 1977 when the property south of the existing engine house (now Ambulance Building) was purchased.  The current fire house was completed in 1978 and dedicated on October 28, 1979.  Robert Stumpf was Fire Chief.  A large amount of work on the new fire house was accomplished by the volunteer firemen themselves and Millstadt contractors who donated their services.  The bell from the original fire house has a place of honor in the new building.  Other displays reflect the heritage of the department.

The history of the Millstadt Union Fire Department is built on the concept of service to the community.  The community, in return, whole-heartedly supports its volunteer firefighters.  This combination has resulted in a professional firefighting company able to deal with emergency situations within the district.