SECOND ALARMERS ASSOCIATION
Since 1896, the City of Moline has had a paid fire department. For many years after, the firehouse had been a neighborhood gathering point for gossip, card playing and various forms of socializing. Such was the founding of the Second Alarmers.
Eleven local businessmen who enjoyed visiting with the firemen decided they might put their time to better use by helping at fires. Their duties would not include actually fighting fires, but would center around running for tools, assisting with traffic control, picking up and rolling hose lines, and washing and hanging hose back at the firehouse.
The Second Alarmers became registered with the State of Illinois on February 17, 1952 with a stated purpose of “assisting the Fire Chief in any manner by promoting, creating, and maintaining the best interests of the Moline Fire Department.” This included helping at any second alarm fire.
Back in the ‘50s and 60’s, scrapbooks showed there were more “bad” fires than in recent times. Members of the Second Alarmers worked many long hours, side-by-side, with paid members of the department. In the ‘70s, membership began to wane; not because of interest, but because of fewer and fewer multiple alarm fires.
Noting this, and because of changes in the call-up procedures by the department, then-Chief James Woydziak allowed the Second Alarmers to be called for all general alarm fires. He and our advisor, Captain Charles Davis, arranged for the group to obtain a retired Chevy Suburban and use it as a mobile air cascade system, to replenish firefighters’ breathing air bottles.
That vehicle evolved into a second-generation version, based on a former transit bus. A new air delivery system, spare bottle holders, cabinets, oxygen and first aid equipment were installed. Because the vehicle was heated and air conditioned, it was also operated as a rehab unit for both firemen and displaced fire victims.
Our current vehicle is a former heavy rescue truck that has been modified by members of the Second Alarmers. Added was a high pressure cascade system, more compartments, portable generators, portable lights, light tower, and rehab equipment.
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