On June 25, 1873, Liberty Fire Co. No. 1 was
organized. The fire company when formed had little
equipment for fire-fighting, and the methods in use
seem to us almost as crude as the early bucket-
brigades, but Liberty Fire Co. from its beginning
was composed of "fire eaters" to whom a fire was a
challenge to be met with every ounce of their energy.
This is the spirit which makes a handful of poorly
equipped volunteers the superiors of a fully outfitted
paid organization without the love of fire-fighting.
If this spirit had not been almost traditional in
Peru's fire department, Peru would probably have
gone on having disastrous fires. As it is. Liberty
Fire Co. has been consistently a source of service
to the community, not only the city of Peru, but
a number of other municpalities in the vicinity.
The first equipment purchased was a hand-pump-
er of the "back breaker" type. This was kept in the
Old City Hall, and was hand drawn. When a fire was
discovered, someone would run to the City Hall and
ring the bell. At the first clang the members of the
department would rush to the station and pull the
pumper to the scene of the fire as fast as they could.
In 1885 a "steam pumper," known as a "Silsby
engine," replaced the hand machine. A number of
large cisterns located at strategic points about the
town supplied the water for fire-fighting. The water
to fill these was pumped from the river.
In September, 1890, a contract for a new fire
station was let to Sperber & Koehler, and in the
following year the new building was ready, and the
engine was moved from the City Hall. A bond issue
for the construction of a "water works" was passed
on March 7, 1891, and by December fire hydrants
were installed and ready for use. The city bought a
hose wagon in January, 1892, and by the middle of
the following May a fire alarm system was installed.
For many years the city owned one team of
horses, which pulled the fire engine. When the fire
bell rang there would be a mad race amongst the
teamsters who were anywhere near, each driver try-
ing to get to the station first, in order to hitch his
team to the hose cart.
Two conventions of the Illinois State Firemen's
Association have been held in Peru, in January of
1896, and in January of 1911- Mr. J. W. Henshaw,
of Liberty Fire Co., was the first president of the
The charter members of the Liberty Fire Co.
No. 1 were:
Bart Denny, Marshall
G. B. Denny
C. P. Grasmick
Jas. D. King
C. W. Woodhead
John G. Beyer
Wm. B. Day, Jr.
Thos. R. Prendergast
m. g. rosgen
R. C. Hattenhauer