Nine decades of firefighting:Saratoga Fire Dept. celebrates 90 years of service


In the Saratoga Fire Department’s 90 years of existence lies a rich history.

The department, founded March 15, 1923, started off with noting more than 27 volunteers and a $10 donation from the Saratoga mayor at the time, M.B. McKillip.

Now, the department has grown to six vehicles, 31 volunteers and nine decades of service to Saratoga and the Platte Valley.

The current force felt it was only right to honor the fire department with a celebration dedicated to its history and advancement throughout the years, said fire chief Randy Sikes.

“I think that it is kind of cool that it’s been here for 90 years,” he said.

To recognize the services the department has offered for 90 years, firefighters will open the fire station to the public while serving hamburgers, hot dogs, dessert and other refreshments starting at about 11 a.m. Saturday.

“We have a new generation of firefighters coming up that are very eager and willing to step up to the plate and get the training,” said Saratoga Mayor John Zeiger, who served on the volunteer fire department at various times in the 70s and 90s.

The development of the fire department was interesting to see throughout the years, said Don Herold, who served 47 years on the fire department before retiring in 1999.

Among those changes were the advancement of communications, acquiring better vehicles and the addition of younger firefighters.

“You don’t notice things changing until you stop to think about it,” he said. “And there are a lot of changes that took place.”

Herold said, when he started back in 1952, the Saratoga Volunteer Fire Department had fewer trucks and about five telephones used to call firefighters to an incident.

Since then those trucks were replaced with more and newer ones, and the telephones replaced with beepers.

“We got pagers later, you know, going into the modern world,” he said. “We advanced a little bit all the time.”

Herold said he also remembers the addition of younger personnel.

“It got to the point where younger guys started to take ahold of things,” he said. “It was time for us older guys to get out and let the younger ones come in.”

Herold said he liked seeing the fire department develop in the years he served on the volunteer-based force.

“The trucks are faster, the firemen are better trained. It is a lot more efficient,” he said.

Herold said, in the 1960s, firefighters would train at least once a week. Weekly training is something the Saratoga Volunteer Fire Department continues to do.

Sikes said the current force of 31 firefighters gets together every Wednesday for training.

“Every Wednesday we are doing something,” Sikes said.

However, firefighters on the force leave from time to time for special training session.

Zeiger said the town is fortunate to have a volunteer fire department with good skills, specifically mentioning the department’s response times to emergencies.

“For a volunteer organization, the response time is very phenomenal,” Zeiger said.

None of what the fire department does would be possible without the employers, who let their employees respond to emergencies when the need rises.

“If they didn’t allow those firefighters to respond, we wouldn’t have a volunteer fire department, or not as good of one,” Zeiger said. “The business owners have to take a lot of credit for the success of the fire department as well.”

A rich history

The Saratoga Volunteer Fire Department was founded March 15, 1923 with 27 volunteers and Earl DePue assuming the position as fire chief. The first fireman’s ball took place March 6, 1924 on St. Patrick’s Day.

On Aug. 25, 1977, the fire department’s 53rd year of existence, held an open house, which more than 100 people attended. Six years later, on Sept. 1, 1983, the fire department expanded with a new truck, additions to the fire house.


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