The Washington Fire Department is rich in its history and character. Learn about how it all began, or get to know our team and capabilities.
EMS – We respond to numerous calls for service, the most frequent being emergency medical calls. We staff two full-time ambulances at the Advanced Life Support Level. In the event that call volume exceeds our ability to provide staff and resources, the department relies on neighboring agencies to provide back up support to the community.
Fire – Fire responses are handled by our volunteer firefighters. Our firefighters go through extensive training, requiring a Basic Operations Firefighter course that complies with the Office of the State Fire Marshall. They are also trained in Hazardous Materials Response and hold either a CPR, EMR, or EMT-B/P license. The firefighters respond to the station when called to duty from their home or work to handle fires, search and rescue, and assistance on EMS calls.
America’s volunteer fire service has faithfully served our nation for more than 300 years. Volunteer firefighters serve their communities with dedication and enthusiasm. Volunteer firefighters save local communities approximately $37 billion each year – money that can be reinvested to improve local infrastructure, social programs, and minimize the tax burden. Seventy-three percent of all fire departments in America are volunteer; accounting for over 800,000 volunteer firefighters across the United States.
The Washington Fire Department & Rescue Squad, Inc. (WFD) is an excellent local example of the volunteer fire service in America. Available records indicate the history of the Washington Fire Company began in 1879 when Ben Tobias was the town’s first Fire Chief. The first fire station was located on the south side of the square where a parking lot is now located. In 1953, the Washington Fire Department moved into a new station, located on the corner of N. Main and W. Jefferson. The volunteer fireman also provided rescue service in the 1950’s.
“The first fire station was located on the south side of the square where a parking lot is now located.”
In 1961, a group of ten men formed the rescue squad as a separate volunteer unit. The duties of the rescue squad included responding to resuscitator and inhalator calls, now referred to as emergency medical calls. The rescue squad was housed in a separate building until 1967 when the equipment was moved to the fire station. The squad also remained a separate volunteer organization until 1968 when the City Council approved the rescue squad to become part of the Washington Fire Department. After the two local funeral homes that provided ambulance service indicated they would no longer provide the service, the rescue squad purchased their first ambulance with the assistance of a federal and state grant, with the City providing matching funding. The members of the rescue squad provided emergency care and transportation to our citizens and eventually became certified Emergency Medical Technicians.
In 1981, the Washington Volunteer Fire Department & Rescue Squad, Incorporated (WFD) was formed to provide fire, rescue, and emergency medical services to the City of Washington, Central Fire Protection District, and Pleasant View Fire Protection District. The organization moved to its current new fire station in 1996. The membership of the WFD is made up of 25 volunteer firefighters, some of whom are also emergency medical technicians, 7 full time and approximately 15 part time paramedics. In 2008, the WFD hired its first full time Fire Chief.
Currently, the WFD responds to approximately 1,366 calls for service per year. Emergency medical calls make up approximately 80% of the responses (close to national average), with the remainder being various fire calls, auto accidents, false alarms, CO responses, and other various calls for service. The department operates one staffed paramedic ambulance 24/7 to answer initial medical responses, with additional medical calls being handled by our volunteer EMT’s and off-duty paramedics, if available. Fire responses are handled by our volunteer firefighters, who go thru extensive training, including Illinois State Fire Marshal Basic Operations Firefighter certification at a minimum.
“Fire responses are handled by our volunteer firefighters, who go through extensive training, including Illinois State Fire Marshal Basic Operations Firefighter certification at a minimum.”
As previously mentioned, volunteer fire departments across the nation save billions of taxpayer dollars each year. The estimated savings to the community served by the WFD is estimated to be over $2 million dollars per year compared to costs if the department was staffed full time with career firefighters. While the department has undergone some significant changes in recent years, i.e. providing a full time paramedic ambulance 24/7 and the addition of a full time Chief; the department has been able to continue to keep up with the community’s growth without the addition of career personnel.
In order to maintain this level of service and keep the financial burden to the community to a minimum, the department is continuing its effort to recruit and retain our volunteers. The department is always looking for individuals willing to step up and serve and currently is more in need of individuals available during weekday hours. Currently a few of the local Washington businesses, including Lindy’s, the City of Washington, and SCBA, Inc., allow employees to respond to calls during the day enhancing the department’s ability to respond. Other local employers have a history of allowing their employees to respond during the work day and this has always been greatly appreciated by the department.
If you are an individual that lives or works in the area served by the Washington Fire Department and are interested in joining or receiving information, please contact the department at 444-4650. The WFD is looking for ordinary people willing to provide extraordinary service to the community.
Our personnel range from full time paramedics through volunteer firefighters on call to serve the city of Washington, Central Fire Protection District, and Pleasant View Fire Protection District 24/7. No matter their status, everyone here has chosen to serve the community.