Black Jack's First Pumper
Black Jack's first fire truck would later be known as an American classic. Built by General Fire Apparatus in St. Louis, Missouri, the 1929 REO Speedwagon was the elite fire apparatus of its day. Equipped with a 268 REO Gold Crown Engine, it is one of only 18 General Fire Apparatus Trucks registered today. The truck is now fully restored and owned by Mr. Anthony Motta, of Kansas City, Mo. This photo was taken by Mr. Motta after the restoration of the truck.
Black Jack Fire Protection District began in 1929 as the Black Jack Fire Prevention Organization. It was formed as a result of a fire at the Schladerbach house on what is now Mehl Avenue. Since there was no fire department for that area, they requested help from neighboring Florissant Valley Volunteer Fire Department. But by the time they arrived, the house was a total loss. Within days, community leaders in Black Jack got together and formed what would later become the Black Jack Fire Protection District. John E. Wohldmann spearheaded construction of a new firehouse behind Hartwig's Saloon and General Store at the intersection of what is now Old Halls Ferry Road and Parker Road. The new firehouse would cost $1097.
By the 1950s, the population of the area was growing and so was the need for up-to-date fire equipment. The voters of the area approved the formation of a Fire Protection District and levied a tax to build a new firehouse and purchase new equipment. A new firehouse was built just to the north of the original one. It opened in 1956. It would serve as the district's headquarters and its house 1 for the next 50 years. Throughout the years, it was home to pumpers, rescue squads, ladder trucks, and Battalion Chiefs.
As the district continued to grow, the need for an additional house was apparent. In 1967, house 2 was built in the north end of the district on Old Jamestown Road. It originally housed a pumper and tanker. It stood until it was replaced with a new house 44 years later.
Although land for a third engine house was purchased in the late 1960s, there wasn't enough growth or revenue to build and staff another firehouse until after the turn of the century. When voters approved a $12 million bond issue, house 3 was built. It opened in 2006. The ladder company and Battalion Chiefs, who were stationed at house 1, moved out to the new house. House 3 also became the new administration building. That move left a pumper at house 1. Since then, house 1 was replaced in 2008 and a new house 2 opened in 2010.