Fire Department History

The Fire Department, known as the “Bucket Brigade” when it was organized in 1903. remained that until 1918 when a 500 gallon a minute pumper was purchased. Since 1903 when the first volunteer fire department was organized to serve Hillside, our community’s fire protection services have witnessed and responded to many technological and social changes. Although we are still a small community of 9500, since World War II we have grown considerably and today are faced with protecting not only our residents but also the thousands of people who work, shop, and go to school in Hillside and the many businesses and firms which have located here in recent years.

Hillside has had a combination full-time/volunteer fire department since 1968 when the first three full-time firemen were hired to augment the volunteer personnel, who were headed by a full-time Fire Chief- Additional changes occurred until we reached today’s level in 1974 with 15 full-time and approximately 18 volunteer personnel. Full-time firemen are on-duty at the fire station around the-clock, seven days a week. To provide back-up support and additional manpower when necessary, Hillside has a mutual-aid agreement with six other neighboring communities. Known as Battalion 7, these communities are Bellwood, Berkeley, Broadview, Maywood, Melrose Park, and Westchester.

The Fire Department’s equipment includes three pumpers, one aerial ladder truck, and an ambulance. The main fire station is located on Wolf Road at Washington Street, with an auxiliary station in the Village Hall. In addition to performing normal fire suppression and fire prevention activities, the Department also provides emergency ambulance service. All full-time personnel and most of the volunteers have been trained as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s), through the Illinois trauma care system.

Since the Department believes the best way to fight a fire is to prevent it from occurring in the first place, the Department inspects all commercial, industrial, and multi-family buildings once a year, provides home inspections upon request, checks plans on new construction, and conducts public information programs.