By Randy Pierce
With a response averaging more than one-and-a-half calls every day, the annual report released recently by the Fairview Fire Department characterizes what a very busy year was for its members in 2021.
That report indicated the department which operates out of two locations in Fairview Heights, 10045 Bunkum Road and 214 Ashland Avenue, answered 607 calls during the calendar year that concluded December 31 with 18 of these involving structure fires and 37 of them described as rescue calls which included four extrications of people trapped in vehicles.
A total of 44 of the responses concerned hazardous conditions while there were 80 defined as service calls. There were 213 false alarms which while they were not valid still required action on the part of the department.
Two calls came in about storm damage and the Fairview Fire Department was summoned 96 times for providing what is called mutual aid to other agencies in need of assistance. Of these, 16 necessitated the usage of the Fairview Fire Department’s mobile ventilation unit which consists of a large fan mounted on a vehicle that is used to help remove smoke from buildings, most often large commercial structures. For situations that came up inside the Fairview-Caseyville Fire Protection District covered by this department where mutual aid was needed, such help was received by the local department 57 times in 2021.
The ledger concerning how much property was saved by the prompt and efficient response of the Fairview Fire Department was very favorable. The value of the property saved totaled $11,111,475 while that which was lost was comparatively miniscule at $682,496.
The grand total of individual responses by fire fighters from the Fairview department was 3747 of which 1353 were by chiefs while a total of 592.75 hours of Monday night training were devoted by them. Compensation paid to these fire fighters in 2021 was #$32,319.
Anyone age 19 and over interested in joining the Fairview Fire Department can express their interest on its Facebook page or visit one of the chiefs at either of the aforementioned locations between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The City of Fairview Heights is actually covered by more than one fire district but the one bearing the name Fairview is responsible for the majority of the territory within the municipality’s boundaries including its highly-valued retail business core.
The far west end of Fairview Heights, for example, is served by the French Village Fire Department and a portion of the northern section by the Hollywood Heights department.
Volunteer fire fighters, who with the Fairview department are compensated on a per-call answered basis, gain valuable training and skills in fire science along with providing indispensable life-saving, property protection service to the residents, churches, schools and businesses in the community.
For the members of this highly respected team, realizing the fulfillment and satisfaction of serving the community in a meaningful way is one of the most outstanding benefits.
The Fairview Fire Department, established in 1933 long before the city was incorporated, provides certification training from basic to advanced levels of fire science at no cost to the participating members along with specialized clothing and gear.
Those joining are considered as probationary fire fighters for their first year of membership during which they are taught the fundamentals and attend classes to become state certified.
For anyone considering this but not certain they wish to pursue it, a visit to either fire station during the aforementioned opening times is encouraged so any questions they may have can be answered.
This department, which functions totally independently of the city, is so named because when it was established as the Great Depression wound down in the 1930s, the region of northern St. Clair County served by it, consisting of farms, a few homes and just a handful of small locally-owned businesses, not defined by any specific boundaries, was then known only as a loosely organized area called “Fairview.”
The first Fairview Fire Department station was located on St. Clair Road just south of Old Lincoln Trail. Early in the 21st century, the department’s modern station on Bunkum Road was opened and in 2014, its station on Lincoln Highway just west of Joseph Drive was shut down and a new state-of-the-art expanded facility opened on Ashland Avenue.
There are three full-time officers on duty from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. weekdays for the department including Chief Bryan Doyle, Assistant Chief Jim Huelsman and Deputy Chief Justin Loepker. The rest of the time, both stations are unstaffed except during training and for special events.
According to its mission statement, “The Fairview Fire Department is dedicated to the saving of life and property through training and education. Our members strive to provide the highest levels of fire suppression, fire prevention, code administration and hazard mitigation to our community in a most cost-effective manner.”
The Fairview Fire Department, according to an ordinance set up by the Caseyville-Fairview Fire Protection District, which collects a tax to help support its operations, may have a total of 60 members. Those serving in this capacity must live within 10 minutes of either of the two fire stations and do not necessarily have to reside within the boundaries of the city limits of Fairview Heights.