Central County Fire and Rescue has a rich history that spans well over a century. In June of 1904, at a time when the St. Peters population was only about two hundred people, the St. Peters Volunteer Fire Company was founded. The 24 volunteers worked out of a small wooden building and used a hand-pumped fire engine. In 1921, local businesses were asked to “subscribe” to the Fire Company for $1 per month to help fund repairs and expenses. In 1941, the department incorporated as the St. Peters Community Fire Department. In 1971, the department transitioned to become the St. Peters Fire Protection District. The first paid employee was hired in 1978, an Assistant Fire Marshall. By 1991, with four firehouses and thirty-three employees, the district served a population of fifty thousand people over fifty-two square miles.
Meanwhile across town, the St. Charles Township Volunteer Fire Department was founded in 1947 by the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce and funded by $100 donations from six individuals, and later, a $500 donation from the county court. The Chamber eventually promoted and helped organize departments at Orchard Farm, Portage des Sioux, Cottleville and St. Charles. Responsible for covering the unincorporated portions of St. Charles county, the department worked together with the St. Charles Fire Department to operate its two firetrucks out of St. Charles City firehouses; an American LaFrance Pioneer gas powered engine at SCFD firehouse #2 on Boonslick Rd and one of the first American LaFrance Pioneer diesel automatics at firehouse #1 at N. 6th & Clark St.
Two other trucks were housed in privately owned garages, owned by an affluent family in the community. One of the trucks was a homemade International 4×4 housed in a small garage at Lindenwood Ave & Gallaher Ave in the City of St. Charles, which also served as a training site. A fourth truck was housed in a small garage on the property of the caretaker of the St. Charles Golf Course on Friedens Road. At some point in the 1960’s, the department experienced two line-of-duty deaths. Following a fire, the two were loading hose onto a firetruck when the driver had a medical emergency and inadvertently backed over them.
At some point in the early 1970’s the St. Charles Township Volunteer Fire Department transitioned to become the St. Charles Fire Protection District.
1996 – 1998
By 1996, the St. Charles Fire Protection District was still mostly a volunteer department, with a full-time paid fire chief and part-time paid firefighters staffing two of its four firehouses from 8 a.m. to midnight. In 1996, the City of St. Charles was annexing portions of the St. Charles Fire Protection District and the District projected a budget deficit for the first time in its history.
Beginning in 1996, members from both fire districts began discussing the possibility of consolidation and determined that the residents of both fire districts would benefit from one combined fire department. Research continued for two years, culminating in a vote of the residents of both fire districts on April 7, 1998. Six days after that vote passed, Central County Fire and Rescue was officially founded on April 13, 1998, and was named Missouri Fire Department of the Year later that year…setting the example for the consolidation of other fire districts across the nation. Later that year, CCFR hired 27 firefighters, ensuring all six firehouses had a minimum daily staffing of 3-man crews with one Battalion Chief.
Now the largest fire department in St. Charles county and the second largest fire district in the state of Missouri, CCFR is the only career fire district in the state whose coverage area touches both the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, serving a population of over one hundred thousand residents spanning seventy-two square miles.
1998 – 2023
In the 25 years since consolidation, CCFR has been paving the way for neighboring fire districts. CCFR currently has 85 full-time employees, and with an unparalleled retention rate of 94% through retirement, and hundreds of applicants for every position available, it is clear that CCFR has become the premier fire district to work for in the St. Louis region. Working together, we’ve been sound stewards of the resources and funds provided by our residents, which has allowed us to expand our suppression personnel from three-man to four-man engine companies at all six firehouses, ensuring our members are better protected and safer on scene.
We’ve been successful in passing several bond initiatives that have allowed the district to complete the major remodel of three firehouses and the administrative offices as well as build three new firehouses and the first training facility in St. Charles county. This state-of-the-art facility has allowed our members to train safely, right here at home. We’ve replaced aging firetrucks twice over the years, and we’ve continued to provide our members and our community some of the best, most effective firefighting and rescue equipment available.
In 2016, we worked together to successfully pass a tax initiative to improve the level of emergency medical care for our community. This Paramedic-level Advanced Life Support care ensures our residents are receiving the best possible emergency medical care available.
Our investment in developing a comprehensive and progressive training program has allowed many of our members to receive higher education and collegiate degrees. We’ve raised the bar for neighboring districts by training our members to technician-level certifications in the many specialized rescue disciplines that make up the response teams for urban search and rescue and hazardous materials incidents. This is particularly important, considering CCFR provides coverage for three major highways, two of the nations’ largest rivers, two high-traffic rail lines, eleven major pipelines, nearly forty thousand single-family homes, over twelve thousand multi-family buildings, and more than five thousand commercial and industrial occupancies with an assessed valuation that has more than doubled since 1998 to over two billion dollars today.
Our intensive and all-inclusive community risk reduction programs have kept our fire losses at an all-time low for decades. Our public fire education and safety programs were developed by our own members in-house and have been duplicated by other fire departments across the nation.
When other fire departments had to decrease services, we were successful in maintaining our level of services through several challenging economic events, including the housing crash of ’09. In the face of an unprecedented global pandemic, our members continually rose to meet every new challenge and faced the adversity of the unknown head on with courage, stamina, and bravery.
One of the first Community Outreach programs in the region, the CCFR Community Outreach continues to lead the way with innovative ways of Working Together to Support Our Community. We were the first fire department community outreach in the nation to offer an initiative that provides professional mental health services for residents who experience a traumatic event. The many programs and initiatives of the CCFR Community Outreach impact tens of thousands of people right here in our own community every year. We not only established and set the bar for every other community outreach in the nation to follow…we continue to raise it year after year with the many amazing ideas brought forth by our members.
In 2021, in the aftermath of a global pandemic and during a national economic recession, we worked together to successfully pass Proposition F with overwhelming support from our community. This has secured the funding that will provide the pension and post-retirement healthcare our members need…and deserve…well into the future. It has allowed our aging members to retire gracefully at a young enough age to live comfortably in retirement and is ushering in a new generation of younger professional firefighters and paramedics that will take CCFR farther than it’s ever been in the next 25 years.
The Next 25
As we close the chapter on the last twenty-five, the future of our fire district has yet to be written, but it holds much promise and hope for what we will accomplish together. While the future of CCFR and what lies in store for our members and our community in the next 25 years is yet to be determined, there is no doubt that our members will continue to make history and lead from the front.
We have forged the bonds of brotherhood and truly nurtured a culture of family and togetherness through our many shared experiences throughout our rich history. As our community continues to grow and evolve, we look forward to the challenges that will undoubtedly arise…because we know that in facing our challenges together, we will strengthen those bonds and grow closer together as a family. We will relentlessly pursue greatness and ensure that the residents, businesses, and visitors in our community continue to receive the level of care and service from its fire district that they’ve come to expect…and deserve…because they are worth our best.
We are the professional firefighters of Central County Fire and Rescue, committed to the mission of Working Together, Keeping You Safe for the next twenty-five years…and beyond.