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Firefighter Chili at the Licking Rural Fire Department Supper and Auction

Submitted Photo
By Christy Porter,
Managing Editor

  The Licking Rural Fire Department Chili Supper and Auction will be held March 2nd from 4 – 8 p.m. at Fox Fire Station; $6 includes Firefighter Chili or Vegetable Soup, Drinks and Dessert.
  The chili supper has been the main fundraiser for the department since the 1990’s. The last few years, they have also held the auction; donations for the auction are appreciated and welcome. The items can include services, smaller household items, items that are easily transportable and easy to store. Everyone is invited to attend with an appetite for the food and an eagerness to bid on auction items. New this year will be applications available for 911 reflective address signs. “If we can’t find you! We can’t help you!”
  The volunteer department provides multiple services for the community. Its medical assistance includes ambulance, lift assists, accidents and landing zone assists for air ambulance. Their fire assistance includes natural cover fires, vehicle fires and structure fires.
  “We’re called, we try to go,” says Kent Sturgeon, LRFD Board President. This is regardless of the type of assistance that may be required.
  Area rural fire departments participate in mutual aid assistance among departments. When a call is received for assistance by Licking, the Raymondville Fire Department also receives the call and responds if necessary. When the situation warrants, Houston may be called in, as well as other outlying departments.
  The fire department also participates in school education programs, especially during Fire Safety Week, which is held the first week of October. The pre-school students take a field trip to the fire station. The older students get a visit from firefighters via a fire truck at the school.
  Firefighters are 100% volunteer participants – they receive no compensation except knowing that they are helping others and their community.
  Even with air tanks, masks and suits, the firefighters are exposed to the obvious dangers and also toxins from burning materials, which may fill the air and coat the equipment and protection gear. One might call the volunteer fire department a “dangerous hobby.”
  Volunteer firefighters undergo continuous training. There is also a four person junior program. The firefighters have a training class every other week, unless there are unpreventable circumstances. There are basic firefighter classes, which if there is an interest, anyone could attend. Volunteers are welcome as a lack of time due to full-time jobs, etc., sometimes limits the ability to respond or to respond in a timely matter. If interested in volunteering, they will do a background check. Applications are available at Hatch Insurance.
  Currently there are three professional firefighters that also serve as volunteers. Approximately three volunteers maintain classification 1 & 2 firefighter status. The department at full staff is 15 firefighters not counting the three professionals.
  Because it’s volunteer, assistance during the daytime hours due to daytime jobs are a struggle; three may be able to respond immediately. During evening and nighttime hours, 5 – 10 volunteers may respond.
  A board of local citizens governs the fire department, which is funded with membership fees, fundraisers and occasional grants. Membership fees contribute approximately $15,000 toward the ongoing expenses of the fire department, with fundraisers adding additional necessary funding. While many fire departments are tax based, the Licking Fire Department is not. A necessity in “time of need” program, the presence of a local fire department is also a positive in businesses and families locating to the Licking area.
  Says Sturgeon, “The City of Licking is very generous in support of the fire department with expenses and facilities, however there is still a truck payment and a rescue equipment payment.”
  The Licking Rural Fire Department also has a very supportive 24-hour auxiliary. While it is mostly the wives of the firefighters, others may contribute. The auxiliary is there to support the firefighters in whatever way they can. They definitely assist with the fundraisers, but also provide hands on help by taking food, coffee and water to the firefighters while they are out on a call, especially those that require more extended time and effort.
  The facility was once located in the rock building on Green Street; two trucks were kept in a heated environment, the rest were not. This can be critical in time response during the cold winter months. In 2002 the new fire station was built. This facility has seven bays, five in the front and two in the rear; it houses eight trucks.
  Membership is highly recommended; the dues for individual households are $35 a year payable in September but you may join at anytime.
  “The fire department will respond when they are called,” says Sturgeon. “Members are not billed for the services. However if you are not a member, you will be billed for the time spent on the call, with a $500 minimum. State statutes govern this policy.” In this type of situation you don’t want to be the one who thought it would never happen to them.
  The fire department now has two 1000 gallon pumpers; one 2500 gallon pumper, one 1200 gallon tanker, one 1200 Army surplus all-wheel-drive tanker and a 900 gallon all-wheel-drive Unimog, the last two being suitable for use with natural cover fires. Randy Wilson is the chief engineer for LRFD.
  Fire chiefs over the years have included Nolan Hutcheson, 1939 – 1942; Roy Williams, 1942 - 1954; Arthur Johnson, 1954 – 1972; Jim Oligschlaeger, 1972 – 1999; Kent Sturgeon, 1999 – 2008; Steve Cooper, 2008 – 2009 and Jimmy Sherrill, 2009 – Present. Earl Hesse is also believed to have been a fire chief at one time; records were not always maintained over the years, so others may have been omitted.
  In 2018 the Licking Rural Fire Department received and responded to 136 calls for some type of assistance. The number is down from previous years of 150 – 175 calls.
Archive Photo
 History of Rural Volunteer Fire Department
  Before public water was available, a Rural Volunteer Fire Department was organized Jan. 3, 1921 with 25 members enrolled. The firemen were a bucket brigade, using the hand pumps scattered throughout town. The rock pump house on Green Street, located beside the present firehouse, was the first firehouse.   
  The firemen each had a trailer hitch on their vehicle to which they attached a hose and ladder trailer constructed by Frank Caton.
  An article in The Licking News edition of Aug. 6, 1959 published the plans to organize a Rural Fire Department that would work in conjunction with the City of Licking in expanded limited services to rural residents within an eight-mile radius of Licking. Applications were being made available, but membership would be contingent on location and road conditions of applicants.
  The department evolved in 1959 when it received a Willys Jeep with water tank from the Missouri Department of Conservation. They also got an Army Chevrolet 4 x 4 that had a 300-gallon water tank. The fleet continued to expand and change.

  History of Licking Volunteer Fire Department
  The Licking Volunteer Fire Department was organized in 1940, after Licking got its first deep well and laid water lines in 1939. The City of Licking bought a truck with fenders but no cab as an upgrade from the hose and ladder trailer. City workers built a wooden hose bed and the truck equipment boxes on the side of the truck bed; it still had an open cab. Ozark ingenuity provided what was necessary.
  In October of 1958, the City of Licking got their first modern pumper, a Ford F-600 purchased from a local dealership. A new fire truck was then purchased from Central Fire Truck Co. in St. Louis; it was ordered white in color and it came in red. The fire truck was accepted as received, as “the color had little to do with putting out fires.”

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