When the Gong Rings
A Fire History of Charleston, Illinois
FIRE LOG 1973       


Charleston City Employees Graduate from Emergency Medical Technician Ambulance class of 1973.
Several doctors and Ken Gagnon, Trauma Coordinator taught the class which graduated January 3, 1973. This class included Charleston firemen: Richard Craig, Eugene Hackett and Melvin Taylor and Charleston i policeman: Jack Turner, Randall Grigg and ' Robert Hudson. This training represented over 120 hours of classroom and clinical training and was difficult. This small class was representative of what was to come for the CFD. It wouldn't be long until all new-Charleston firemen and most of the older ones would have to receive EMT and even more advanced training, when the Charleston Fire Department would take over ambulance service for the city. I know that my dad was very proud of attaining this difficult certificate. He was always involved with training and would soon after this attain Basic Fire Instructor Certification to get all firemen certified. All this started way back in 1959 when Charleston finally acquiring modern equipment. He was the leader of the CFD in modernization. In 1973, many things happened to the Charleston area, including the non-fire-protected areas.


January 9, EIU would sponsor a mock disaster drill, but would have a little excitement. Dynamite was found in Lantz Gym. A possible real disaster was averted. Six sticks of dynamite were found about 11:45 A.M., Sunday. A group of Eastern students found five of the sticks in a paper bag lying in bushes between a parking lot and the tennis courts directly east of Lantz Gym. The sixth stick was found a short distance from the sack, the spokesman said. directly east of Lantz Gym. The sixth stick was found a short distance from the sack, the spokesman said.  

The Emmett Kelly, Jr. Circus was allowed to perform in the gym in the afternoon after a search found no more dynamite. No detonating caps were ever found with the explosives. Eastern Security Chief John Pauley conducted the investigation.

Henry Taitt Fire Brings Rural Fire Protection Problem to a Head

Captain Melvin Taylor was on-duty when an alarm came in about a fire (just starting) at the Henry Taitt residence on S. 4th St. When arriving near the house, Taylor knew that it was out of the city limits. He stopped the trucks and refused to help fight the fire. Charleston Police had determined that no "life endangerment" was involved, but desired to help the Taitts by using a fire extinguisher from their police car. This did not help. In 1959, the City of Charleston made a ruling stating that they could not send Charleston fire equipment out of the city limits to fight fires in non-fire-district areas. This included men and equipment. This was the result of rural residents making the decision that they didn't want the added taxes of having fire protection. The decision was made in meetings held in 1959. Several houses and much property had burned in the country up until this time. Even when CFD equipment and men responded to country fires, chances of saving property was slim. City equipment was not designed for country fires. It didn't carry enough water. Insurance raters demanded that Charleston have a minimum amount of pumping capability from its trucks at all times. With arrival of the quad and the Howe in the 1950's, finally Charleston Fire Department met this minimum. Insurance rates went down for Charleston property owners, but the trucks had to paid for by higher property taxes. Country people, in un-protected areas had to pay higher insurance rates, with no protection.

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