Forest Park Fire Department


The land now known as Forest Park has been home to many people from the Pottawattamie Native Americans to the European settlers who established the framework of the early village. In the early 1800’s the area was loosely known as Oak Ridge and was home to just a few settlers. It was with the arrival of the railroad and its workforce in 1856 that the first settlements were formed. It was in 1884 when the town adopted the more official name of Harlem due to the birthplace of one of its earliest settlers, John Henry Quick. The name Harlem would prevail until April 17th 1907 when Forest Park was established.

In 1896, as the village grew, and with the memory of the Great Chicago Fire fresh on their minds, the residents of then Harlem established a volunteer fire department. Seven members made up the initial Harlem Fire Department work force: J. Pries (Chief), R. Herman, C. Diederich, A Jacobs, J. Wagner, Wm. Sher, and E. Kotzl.

In 1924 the fire department purchased an Ahrens-Fox Fire Engine thus making the transition from horse drawn carts to mechanized fire protection.

Forest Park’s first ambulance was commissioned in 1968 and in 1989 began offering Advanced Life Support care. In fact, as of 2001 all applicants to the fire department are required to be licensed Paramedics.

On February 19th 1980, the fire fighters of Forest Park voted to join the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois and formed Local 2753.

In 2003 all Forest Park paid on call and volunteer fire fighters doffed their turn-out gear for the last time and all members are now full time.