The Wheeling Fire Department was founded in 1896, 2 years after the formal incorporation of the Village of Wheeling. At the time, most of the buildings and sidewalks in the community were constructed of wood. Lighting was provided by kerosene lamps and heating was provided by wood or coal burning stoves.

Fire Prevention Code
The first fire prevention code of the community dealt with the required method of storing bulk kerosene, as well as the proper method of disposing of coal ash.
Firefighters work together to put a large fire

Early Operations

The Fire Department began as a volunteer organization under the direction of Fire Chief Christ Uetz, who served until 1898. In the first few years, the Fire Department provided very basic fire suppression services by forming a bucket brigade. In 1904, the first piece of fire apparatus was purchased - a hand pulled, manual pumper. This piece of equipment is currently being refurbished and will eventually be on display at Fire Station 24 (499 South Milwaukee Avenue).

Important Times & Milestones

  • From 1896 through 1959, the Fire Department was comprised of all volunteer personnel.
  • In 1960, the Village began paying each member of the Fire Department one dollar for each call they made and personnel became known as "Paid-on-Call".
  • In 1969, Bernhardt Koeppen became the first full-time Fire Chief employed by the Village and soon additional full-time personnel were added to meet the growing demands for service.
  • In 1972, the Fire Department, in conjunction with 5 other area fire departments, joined with Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Illinois to create the nation's first recognized "Paramedic" program.
  • In 1994, the Fire Department, in conjunction with the Buffalo Grove Fire Department and the Long Grove Fire Protection District, jointly constructed the Combined Area Fire Training (CAFT) Facility.  Since its construction, the Lincolnshire-Riverwoods Fire Protection District and the Deerfield-Bannockburn Fire Protection District have also joined.  Unified fire training exercises are conducted on-site monthly.
  • In the late 1990's, the Fire Department participated in a cardiac research study associated with St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, IL.  Paramedics where trained in the use of 12-lead cardiac monitors for field use  (traditionally limited to hospital settings), as well as the use of blood-drawn cardiac tests.  As a result of this study, 12-lead cardiac monitor usage has become the international standard now in use, as well as the use of blood-drawn cardiac tests now part of emergency room standard protocols for possible cardiac patients.
A vehicle responds to a plane crash
FD Training

Fire Stations

A new headquarters Fire Station was opened in 1980 at 255 West Dundee Road. This station was downsized in 2010 and reopened as Fire Station 42.  It is currently shared with the Wheeling Police Department. A second Fire Station (Fire Station 23) was opened in 1978 to address growth on the west side of the community. A new headquarters Fire Station 24 opened in August 2010 at 499 South Milwaukee Avenue to address an even distribution of emergency calls throughout the Community and to provide residents with an average response time of less than five (5) minutes.

Current Operations

Today, the department is comprised of 53 full-time personnel and responds to approximately 4,800 calls for service annually, and protects approximately 10 square miles.