On October 10, 1895, a group of concerned citizens met at the Proviso Land Association office to discuss fire protection. The discussion was followed by a presentation to the Village of Maywood Board, and the result was the founding of the Maywood Fire Department. William Dickey was appointed Chief and three hand-drawn hose-carts were purchased to help protect the community. The hose-carts were stationed in sheds at three locations: 5th Avenue and Madison, 5th Avenue and St. Charles Road, and 19th Avenue and St. Charles Road.
In the early days of the Village, when a report of a fire came to the Department's attention, a loud whistle was blown at the pumping station, which sounded the alarm. Volunteers would run to the hose sheds where the Chief would give them information. Chief Dickey served until 1904, when Frank Gustavision, a grocer, was named as his replacement. Chief Gustavision served as chief until the department appointed a full-time fire chief in 1911.
Chief John Kronenbitter was the appointed chief when the Village built its first fire station at 511 St. Charles Road (shown to the right). The Chief lived in the station with his family. Maywood's fire fighting capacity improved when the Village purchased a two-team horse-drawn wagon to transport fire-fighting equipment. The horses were kept at the fire station and cared for by the Chief.
In 1919, Maywood bought its first motorized hose truck, an American LaFrance. One year later, the department added a centrifugal pump. When there was a fire, the Water Department engineer would rev up the pumps to increase the water pressure in the mains. This method of drawing water was used until 1925 when the village purchased an Ahrens Fox Piston Pumper. The Village then decided to have a few paid men stationed at the firehouse to run the equipment at all times.
The Village of Maywood Fire Department became a small paid department in 1928; however, many volunteers remained on call to respond to fires. In 1929, the Village purchased the town’s first ladder truck, which was put into service and manned at the fire station. Three years later, in 1932, the Maywood Fire Department became a full-time paid department.
E.D. Humperville became the Chief in 1935 and served in the position for the next 11 years. During his tenure, the old American LaFrance became inoperable and the City of Chicago loaned the Village one of its pumpers. After four years, Chicago requested the return of its pumper, whichs forced the department to purchase a new American LaFrance engine, nicknamed the “War Baby” because it was purchased during World War II and was rather loud. Reportedly, the engine made so much noise while it was driving people could hardly hear the sirens.
In 1946, D.C. Smith was appointed as Humperville’s replacement. Chief Smith wasted no time in updating the Department with the newest equipment available at the time. Within eleven years, American LaFrance built and sold the Fire Department three fire engines and one truck. In 1958, a new fire station was built at 1220 S. 17th Avenue (shown to the left). The addition of the 17th Avenue station meant that Maywood was better served with stations at both the north and south ends of town. Chief Smith retired in 1958 and Henry Behke assumed his position and served for 10 years.
A total of five Fire Chiefs followed Chief Smith and served between the years of 1968 and 1973.
The Maywood Fire Department purchased its last American LaFrance in 1972. That purchase was accompanied by the acquisition of two Pierce Engines and one Pierce Truck. The engines and truck were not painted the traditional red color, instead, they were a bright lime green. The new equipment quickly proved their worth. The years 1973 to 1985 marked the busiest period for fires in Village's history. During this time, it was not uncommon for the firemen to respond to multiple fires in the same day.
In February 1981, the current Maywood Station No. 1 was rebuilt at 700 St. Charles Road (shown above). The new structure was designed to accommodate the larger vehicles as well as the specialty vehicles the department would soon acquire. In 1997, Chief Hoffman purchased the Department’s current fleet of vehicles, all of which were manufactured by Darley.
The Department's assets currently consist of two fire stations, three engines (two in service with one back-up), one truck, one rescue squad, one fire investigation vehicle, a Division-20 HazMat vehicle, and three ambulances (two in service with one back-up). Department personnel currently consists of three captains, two lieutenants, and 37 firefighters all under the supervision of Chief John Cadagin.