This is the article published in The Bellevue Herald Leader April 22, 2021 by David Namanny.
The Bellevue Fire Department is celebrating its Sesquicentennial this year, as the longtime organization was established 150 year ago in 1871.
The first public mention of forming a fire department in Bellevue took place on Nov. 3, 1871 at town council meeting. Leaders approved forming a fire department. Joe Savitz was appointed first Fire Chief. The next mention of the department was Feb. 3, 1872 when approval was given to name it ‘Bellevue Engine and Hose Company Number One.’ In May 1872, approval was given by the town council to purchase Lot 305 on to build a ‘fire house.’
To celebrate the 150th anniversary community-wide, members of the Bellevue Fire Department are planning several events throughout the year, beginning with a Kick-Off celebration on Saturday, June 5 at Cole Park beginning at 3 p.m. Fire truck rides, bounce houses, kiddie waterball fights, music, food and a movie in the park.
On Saturday, July 4, during Heritage Days 2021, the Bellevue Fire Department will be the Grand Marshal for the grand parade. After the parade, a flag raising will take place at Cole Park, followed by a special Sesquicentennial Ceremony. Waterball fights will take place later in the day and the fire department will have display booths at Cole Park for the public.
On Saturday, August 28, the Bellevue Fire Department will host ‘Fire Fighters Day,’ featuring various fire fighter contests and demonstrations, including a leader line, bucket brigade and waterball fights. There will also be a Fire Fighters Cook-off Contest, along with food and refreshment stands. Live music will be part of the event as well.
Throughout the entire year, unique BFD Raffle Tickets will be for sale with the winner to be announced in the fall.
Just prior to Heritage Days, the Bellevue Herald-Leader will be publishing a special commemorative edition containing the history of the Bellevue Fire Department, along with a series of historic photos – all unique content which is not easily found elsewhere.
During the 125th anniversary of the Bellevue Fire Department, the Herald-Leader also published a series of special pages concerning the department’s history.
According to that issue, Bellevue has one of the state’s oldest fire departments, and April 1, 1872 marked the purchase of the organizations first pumper for the town.
It was a long handled affair that volunteers literally dragged to fires. It utilized water from wells and cisterns scattered around Bellevue to fight fires.
This meager fire apparatus was pressed to the limit on Sept. 6, 1888, when the Arensdorf Grocery Store building at Second and Market streets caught fire and flames swept into the alley.
While the two-story wooden structure burned out of control, it was a telephone call to Dubuque that brought help via rail.
One of Dubuque’s steam fire engines was rushed south on a flat rail car to the tracks right in front of the building to extinguish the blaze.
The town never received a bill from either the City of Dubuque or the railroad.
Follow the history of the Bellevue Fire Department all year long in the Bellevue Herald-Leader, as we continue to publish historical vignettes of the longtime organization and reminders of all the celebrations and events planned through 2021.