History Of The Crestwood Fire Department

In 1929, shortly after Crestwood became a Village, it was decided to form a volunteer fire department. The department had only a few volunteer firefighters and the department used a Model “A” Ford with buckets hanging from the side and a ladder. The truck was housed in a barn on the property of Mr. Felores 4352 Midlothian Turnpike. The fire truck was built by Mr. Felores who was also named Chief. The department operated for about two years, but due to the shortage of monies in the village to purchase needed equipment it was decided that they would contract out this service to Midlothian.

During this time until 1961, the Midlothian fire department served the Village of Crestwood with fire protection. From 1950 thru 1957, Crestwood paid the village of Midlothian $150.00 per year for fire protection. In 1957 the fee was raised to $250.00 per year. After the annexation of the Playfield subdivision in February, 1959 the village officials were informed by the Midlothian fire department that the village should plan on providing their own fire protection.

On August 18, 1960 ordinance No. 168 providing for the establishment and maintenance of a village fire department for Crestwood was adopted. Due to lack of funding for equipment and a lack of personnel Crestwood went back to Midlothian for fire protection for a fee of $1000.00 per month.

On July 20, 1961 Charles Kelly was appointed Chief and credited with being the first Chief of the department. On August 16, 1961 Crestwood was able to purchase engine 51; a 1942 Ford with a front mounted 500 GPM pump, squad 52; a 1941 Ford rescue wagon and additional firefighting gear from Columbus Manor Fire Protection District for $1.00 each. Columbus Manor was incorporated into Oak Lawn’s fire department. The vehicles were housed at 14025 Kostner, at the time known as Crestwood Village Hall and now known as the Civic Center.

On October 18, 1962, $500.00 in earnest money was paid for the purchase of a carpenter’s shop at 13840 S. Cicero with plans to use the premises for a future fire station. May, 1963 Chief Charles Kelly resigned and the firefighters were asked to elect a new chief. Jack Polensky Sr. became the second Chief of the department at a salary of $55.00 per year. The firefighters were granted permission to canvass residents for donations a practice still used today to purchase a 1947 International with a 500 GPM pump from Tinley Park, IL. An emergency alarm system was installed in Midlothian’s police dispatch center to notify firefighters when needed.

August, 1963 firefighters installed a 10’x12’ door in the purchased carpenter’s shop, which is now the current fire station and village hall. Firefighters also constructed a hose tower, which is used to hang and dry fire hose in a smaller space. This was needed to dry large amounts of hose that are used during a fire. This prevents mildew, and dry rot or decay of the fire hose.

The Women’s Auxiliary donated $500.00 to purchase the fire department’s first two-way radio. In November 1963, fire bells were installed in the homes of the firemen to enable a quicker response to the calls. The bells were hooked up to the telephone line and when activated, would wake up the entire house. This practice is no longer used anymore because the families of the firefighters would move out.

On, May 1, 1964 the Crestwood Volunteer fire department officially went into service. In March 1965, the fire department long before today’s paramedics launched its inhalator service to the residents. A Lyteport inhalator unit was donated by the Women’s Auxiliary for this new mission. This equipment would allow firefighters to help people in respiratory distress. This was the first type of emergency medical services provided to the village.

In 1965, Chief Polensky resigned and William hemmer was appointed the third chief of the department. In 1966, with the proceeds from a dance Rescue Squad 55 was purchased by the combined efforts of the Women’s Auxiliary and Firefighter’s Association.

In November 1966, The Village purchased its first new fire apparatus engine 52 was renamed later 2313. A new class “A” Seagrave engine with a 1000 GPM pump. With the expansion of fire apparatus a new addition to the fire station was started in 1967.

December 1967, all donations and dance proceeds were used to purchase inhalator Squad 56. The Women’s Auxiliary donated the money to equip it and it was put in service February, 1968.

December 1970 the Village purchased Engine 51 renamed later 2303. It was a new class “A” Seagrave engine with a 1250 GPM.

August 1972, Chief Hemmer resigned and Chief Ambrose “Jerry” Kolasinski was named the 4th Chief of the department.

The fire departments in the area were organized into districts an Crestwood with nine other towns were District 2, renamed later by the state to Mabas 22. The idea was to put order into what numbers identified the towns and there apparatus and personnel. Crestwood was designated “23” and all officers on the department would have the last numbers of “0” or “1”. The chief’s of each department would be “00” so Crestwood’s chief is 2300. All engines would end in “3” (2313, 2323), trucks “4” (2314), squads “5” and ambulances were “2” with low numbers meaning Advanced Life Support (ALS) and higher numbers Basic Life Support (BLS).