From the Cape Girardeau Public Library archive of stories by the Southeast Missourian General Histories

Headlines Reveal History:

12-7-1904 Chief R.W.Stehr puts firefighters through practice drill. 

6-1-1908 Council appointments for city fire department. 

11-13-1908 Gamewell fire alarm boxes are placed at Main & Themis, Broadway & Fountain, Broadway & Pacific, Sprigg & Merriwether, Frederick & Good Hope, and Spanish & William. 

12-29-1908 New fire wagon arrives by boat from St. Louis . 

5-1-1909 Team of horses for fire department purchased in St. Louis by Aldermen Alex Vasterling and Joe Wilson. 

5-4-1909 Barney Kraft is named chief. 

5-18-1909 Charles Hawn is appointed first assistant fire chief at $50 and Lee Albert second assistant at $40 per month. 

5-25-1909 New fire engine horses are harnessed for first time. 

6-7-1909 New Firefighting apparatus is given first test: team of greys responded to signals and made run of six blocks in 10 minutes after receiving alarm. 

8-22-1909 Alex, one of big horses of fire department, got away this morning and enjoyed romp on Independence . 

9-15-1909 Fire Department horses are weighed--Alex 1,325, gain of 63 pounds; Joe, 1,323, loss of 38 pounds, since they were installed in their new home. 

2-21-1912 Firemen give masquerade ball for purpose of securing boots and coats. 

4-15-1913 George D. French and Martin Oberheide are selected as salaried firemen. 

9-19-1913 Big Ben, barred rock rooster, mascot at city fire station, is trampled to death by Alex, horse which helps haul fire wagon. 

4-22-1914 City Council adds another man to fire dept. to handle horses. 

5-13-1914 City fire wagon is undergoing repairs 

1-16-1915 Wooden pole has been installed for city firemen to slide to lower floor from their bunks and men are practicing fancy slides. 

3-15-1916  Cape ’s biggest fire in business section. Call for new fire fighting equipment. 

4-18-1916 Special election for $15,000 bonds for modern fire equipment lost. 

5-23-1916 Another election; carried. 

12-7-1916 New motor fire engine arrives. 

12-20-1916 New hook & ladder truck breaks. 

1-1-1917 New equipment gets first real test at fire. 

4-7-1920 Jumbo, fire engine, is stuck in mud on North Henderson answering alarm. 

2-2-1922 Gas masks for firefighters are provided by city. 

5-1-1922 George French succeeds Fred Meyers as fire chief. 

10-17-1923 R. C. McCarty, service-car driver, succeeds Ira Collins as member of fire department. 

12-3-1924 Citizen of Marble City Heights suburb is fined on charge of driving auto over fire hose. 

2-26-1925 City Council buys new fire truck, $5,400. 

4-18-1925 Members of Cape police and fire departments, who, 6 weeks ago, ordered uniforms from itinerant salesman, are still waiting for suits. 

5-1-1925 Cape’s new fire truck is on display at Harris Motor Co. 

9-22-1931 Petition is presented urging City Council to promptly give Cape adequate fire protection; Council takes immediate steps. 

11-26-1931 City firemen give dance at Community Clubhouse for funds to purchase equipment. 

12-10-1931 Firemen spent first night in new annex last week. 

1-2-1932 Cost of building annex to fire department building, also improvements to old structure, is $5,389.27. 

2-10-1932 City’s new $10,500 American-LaFrance fire truck arrives. 

2-20-1932 Formal opening of new addition to fire department and new truck is held today and tomorrow. 

4-3-1932 Inhalator is installed on new fire truck. 

8-8-1932 Harry Rabe and Roy Smith are injured when fire truck crashes into motor truck. 

8-3-1933 Drill tower at fire department headquarters is finished. 

8-16-1933 SEMO firefighters hold 4th annual convention here. Roy Smith of Cape department is presented with medal for saving girl’s life. 

6-29-1936 Carl Lewis is added to department. 

11-14-1940 Carl Lewis is appointed temporary chief succeeding late R. J. Kammer. 

12-16-1940 Carl Lewis is appointed chief of Department. 

12-29-1940 New fire truck, built in Cape , except chassis, has been placed at station for use. 

1-24-1942 Leland Albert, who trained first fire dept. horses, died 1-5-42 in Arkansas . 

6-13-1942 Louis Hellmeyer, Rose Street , is appointed to fire department by City Commissioner Philip H. Steck. 

9-23-1942 Fire truck, constructed according to Chief Carl Lewis and City Commissioner Philip Steck, has been placed in service. 

8-1-1943 Fire department takes on war job of preparing meals for prisoners in City jail. 

9-27-1950 G.M.C. 750 gallon pumper received; old one sold for $2,500. 

7-28-1951 Fire Station No. 2, $30,000 structure on Independence , holds public inspection. 

2-2-1951 New fire alarm system installed at Central department. 

9-17-1951 New Fire Station No. 3, Emerald Street, north side, formally opened. 

1-10-1952
Casey Ransom recalls he was on city fire wagon when electric wire accident killed two fine gray horses drawing pumper. 

2-1-1954 City Council, in heated session, agrees to give hearing to three ousted firemen. 

10-2-1954 Fire Department has grown from volunteers to force of 30 men. 

3-2-1955 George French, fire chief, retires after 24 years service to department; succeeded by Harry Rabe. 

1-15-1959 Fire department starts registration of invalids to improve chances of rescue. 

7-17-1959 Good general history 

1-1-1960 Police department transfers from Independence-Frederick location, leaving fire department in charge of building. 

7-19-1960 City Council burns $165,000 retire fire station bonds. 

8-23-1960 Firemen request ordinance increasing pay on length-of-service basis. Rejected by City Council 8-30-60. 

9-24-1960 Firemen petition for initiative election for length-of-service pay. 

8-7-1961 Special mayor’s Finance Committee recommends salary increases for city employees. 

9-1-1961 City Council orders salary hike for city employees--includes length-of-service schedule for police and firemen. 

11-7-1961 Firemen withdraw suit for length-of-service pay. 

4-17-1963 Police and fire department seek pension plan. 

2-25-1964 City Council turns down firemen’s request for $20 per month pay increase. 

3-20-1964 Police and firemen campaign for retirement plan. Election on issue fails 4-7-64. 

5-6-1964 Firemen are busy readying new $22,000 fire truck for service. 

11-3-1964 Firemen again ask for salary increase. 

8-8-1966 Trucks replace horses - General History 

10-5-1980 Department second to none - General History 

2-15-1981  Cape has new fire house - new headquarters - Station 1 at Sprigg & Independence


  • Contact Info
  • 1 South Sprigg Street Cape Girardeau, MO 63703
  • Telephone 573.339.6330
  • Email capefire@cityofcape.org