Welcome First Responders

To The 26th Jeffco Fire Engine Rally

September 28, 2019

Herculaneum City Park
Joachim Avenue and Hwy. 61/67
Herculaneum, Missouri


History of the Jeffco Fire Engine Rally

In 1994, a group of Jefferson County firefighters organized the first Jeffco Fire Engine Rally to be held in Jefferson County. The organizing group consisted of Dennis Turner, Frank Umbdenstock, Jim Matzker, Bill Haggard, Mike Matzker, Randy Hoselton, Rudy Rangel, Greg Breher, Dan Skaggs, Bob Tucker, Gary Boyer, Joe Williams and Horace Dutton.

From the inception, the intent of the rally was to bring together the county firefighters and fire departments for a day of fun, camaraderie and competition. The rally was also designed to educate the general public about the fire service in Jefferson County.

The first Jeffco Fire Engine Rally was held at the Herculaneum Fairgrounds on September 17, 1994, in Herculaneum, Missouri. The rally began with a parade of fire apparatus and emergency vehicles through Festus and on to Herculaneum. Longtime Festus Fire Department Fire Chief Herb Besand led the parade as the first Grand Marshal. At the rally, the attendees were able to get a close-up look at the various types of fire apparatus and emergency equipment. Several vendor booths were on-site and firefighters from various fire departments squared off against each other in three firefighter competitions. During the afternoon, demonstrations were presented by the Rock Community Fire Protection District and the Festus Fire Department.
With each successive rally, the participation from the county departments was enhanced as departments in neighboring counties and western Illinois began to participate. Each year the number of apparatus in the parade increased and the number of people attending the rally also increased. With each passing year, new ideas were incorporated. A fire safety house was added to show the children in attendance how to dial 911 and escape a home fire. A Dalmatian drill team, a Dalmatian pet show and a fire safety clown were all added to the rally’s event schedule. Each rally has also featured two or three demonstrations for the public. Demonstrations have included auto extrication, propane fire extinguishment, trench collapse rescue, search and rescue dogs, high angle rescue, hazardous materials procedures, water shuttle operations, foam demonstrations, fire extinguisher use, structural firefighting and a mass casualty incident.

In 2001, the annual Jefferson County Fire Fighters Association awards were presented for the first time. Awards were presented in the following categories: Fire Department of the Year, Fire Chief of the Year, Firefighter of the Year, Meritorious Action Award, Life Saving – Heroic and Life Saving – Technical. Honorees are chosen by the rally committee from nominations submitted by the county fire departments and firefighters.

Beginning in 2002, a formal memorial service was added to honor and remember individuals associated with the fire service in Jefferson County who had passed away since the last rally. The memorial service has been part of the Opening Ceremony that includes the presentation of flags by a firefighter color guard, performance of the National Anthem, the recognition of the parade Grand Marshal and the Junior Grand Marshal representing the Missouri Burn Camp and the presentation of the Jefferson County Firefighters Awards.