The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Slightly more than 65 years ago the town of La Harpe had just an average fire department with fire protection limited to the city limits. Today the La Harpe Fire Protection District, organized on December 2, 1950 under the state fire district law, has 3 fire stations and 52 volunteer firemen.
Prior to the formation of the Fire Protection District, the adjacent territory was without fire protection for the La Harpe Fire Department could not answer calls outside the city limits because of insurance regulations.
The La Harpe Fire Protection District today inlcudes all of La Harpe Township, all of Fountain Green Township except a few farms along the east edge, the northern part of Blandinsville township in McDonough Co, two thirds of Terre Haute Township in Henderson Co, some of Durham Township and some of Pilot Grove Township.
The trustee's in 1950 were M.F. Kern, La Harpe Township President, Richard Howell of La Harpe as secretary and Lowell Painter, Terre Haute Township. The trustees appointed Wendell Helmers as treasurer of the La Harpe Fire Protection District and Leland (Mike) White as District Fire Marshall.
Mike served as District Fire Marshall until 1959, and then trustees appointed Dean Beals. Dean served until 1969, and then the trustees appointed Dean "Dutch" Patterson. Joe Kurtz worked as custodian for many years.
Starting with a two-bay station, two trucks and 30 volunteer firemen, La Harpe District expanded with construction of a station in Terre Haute, 6 miles to the north in 1956, manned currently by 10 volunteer firefighters.
In 1970 a two bay station was built in Fountain Green, 7 miles south of La Harpe, which is currently manned by 13 volunteer firefighters.
The first fire station in La Harpe has been expanded with the addition of 3 bays, which house five trucks, equipment van and 1 rescue truck. Firefighters volunteered the labor for the construction of 2 meeting rooms at the station.
In the last 10 years the 1000 Gal. tankers in Terre Haute and Fountain Green have been replaced by 2000 Gal. tankers. The 1000 Gal. tanker in La Harpe will be replaced with a 2000 Gal. tanker in the fall of 2015. These additions give the district 9500 Gal. of water on wheels with 3 of 4 pumpers carrying 1000 Gal. each and have dump capability.
All trucks are equipped with radios with the base station located at the La Harpe station. The Terre Haute and Fountain Green stations both have a 15,000 gallon water supply.
The district has mutual aid agreements with all of McDonough County, all of Hancock County, Stronghurst, Lime-Tioga and Loraine. The District is also a member of MABAS Mutual Aid District 55 and an Associate Member of MABAS 44. The La Harpe Fire Protection District encompasses approximately 105 square miles.
The bell which served as the first alarm whenever a fire occurred is now located at the La Harpe station. It was purchased by the city of La Harpe in 1906 from McNeely and CO Bell Foundery, West Troy, NY. The cost of the bell was $321.41 and weighs 1000 pounds.
Terry Housewright served the district as District Fire Marshall for 2 years after "Dutch" Patterson retired. Greg Smith served 1 year and Roger Jackson served 2 times for a total of 13 years. Max Quivey was Co-Fire Marshall with Roger during his first term. Jerry Brown is the current La Harpe Fire Protection District Fire Marshall and has served for 12 years. Jerry's wife, Pam, is the granddaughter of the late "Mike" White, La Harpe's first LFPD Fire Marshall.
Present Trustees are Ron Mellinger, President, Steve Painter, Secretary, and Tom Hasten. Kasey Livingston is the current Treasurer. Barb Berlet served as District Treasurer for many years retiring in 2013.
The LFPD is always striving to serve the district to the best of their ability. They try to stay up to date with all training and equipment. There are many enthusiastic young people on the current roster, ensuring that La Harpe Protection District will be here to serve for many years to come.