The Gerald-Rosebud Fire Protection District is a fully volunteer department that covers parts of Franklin and Gasconade counties. GRFPD runs a variety of emergency calls including building fires, vehicle rescues, water rescue, large area search and rescue, brush/ field fires, EMS/medical emergencies, mutual-aid to surrounding districts, traffic hazards, and much more. Our volunteers are dedicated, committed, and do it for the love of this community. Our department works in tandem with community leaders and other agencies in the area to put the people of these incredible community first and offer the best public relations and emergency services we can offer.
The following is a brief history of the Gerald – Rosebud Fire Department. The information was gathered from a community history book called Gerald Wanderings which was authored in 1976.
The Fire Department was organized by Paul Borror, Clarence Kohring, Oscar Wehmueller, Hugo Schmidt, and Ben Helling as they sat beneath the trees just west of the Finley Drug Store beside the highway. These men witnessed a large fire in Gerald and realized they had nothing to fight it with. A restaurant which stood just south of the highway where Gerald Oil Co. and Mesger’s car wash once were burned to the ground in October 1949. This made a few men think and soon they were well on their way to having a volunteer fire department.
At this time equipment and trucks were hard to come by and money to purchase was very tight. They succeeded in borrowing money to purchase an army surplus truck from Fort Leonard Wood. Soon arrangements had been made for it to be taken to Chicago, Ill. to get the firefighting equipment built on it. Clarence Kohring and Paul Borror made the trip to Chicago. This truck is still owned by the department and is known as “Whitey”.
The first fire call that the Gerald Volunteer Fire Department answered was to the brick building on Main Street where the Beauty Shop is now. It was occupied by a restaurant in the front section and a residence in the rear. Mr. and Mrs. James Bozza were the owners / occupants of the building during this time.
It became necessary to have a place to house the equipment, so the fire department bought a parcel of land from Charles Bartel. At the time of the purchase, Bartel operated a blacksmith shop on the site. The first Fire Hall was built on Fourth Street Facing South. The building was built in 1949 and 1950, and was dedicated in May of 1951. Money was raised to build the building by selling bricks to individuals. Area organizations put on plays and other benefits to raise sufficient funds to pay off the debt they owed. The Fire Hall was built for two purposes; to serve as storage for equipment and for a community gathering hall. The Young People’s Class of Boeuff Church gave two comedy plays entitled “Deacon Dubbs” and “Here Comes Charley” and gave all proceeds to the firemen.
For the past 25 years the fire department has given a picnic on the first Saturday evening in August to make some extra money for paying bills. They operated on the annual fire dues of $5.00 per property up until 1973 and then increased it to $10.00 per property per year. In 1980 the Gerald-Rosebud Fire Protection District was formed and income became based upon property tax assessments.
An enrollment of 45 men were kept on a list as volunteer firefighters. The men were insured in case of accident while fighting a fire. Gerald Fire Department also served the Rosebud area. The current department roster consists of 24 active members.
In June of 1965, all firemen’s cars were equipped with a blue light and identification plates. Badges were given to the firemen after the death of Mrs. J. Hy. Vossbrink. She requested that this be done as a gift. These badges were presented to the men who were firemen at that time and to this day the organization presents the new members with badges.
Through the years additional equipment was purchased, and at present time the department has three pumpers, two tankers, one rescue truck, four brush trucks, 1 boat, one air cascade truck, and “Whitey”.
In the spring of 1975 the fire department began to build Fire House No. 2 on a parcel of land donated to them by the American Legion Post 337. This is a metal building with large doors on each end and a brick trim on the front. It houses part of the equipment, has an office, a meeting room and a large kitchen for the purpose of serving suppers and etc. In 1976 the new Fire Hall No. 2 was finished. An extensive renovation project was undertaken in 2009 to modernize the facility and accommodate growth of the department.
A fire auxiliary was organized in the fall of 1973. The ladies served coffee and food to the firemen when the firemen fought fires for many hours in the cold weather. Their organization was responsible for equipping the kitchen in Station No. 2.
In July 1952, the city council passed an ordinance that required motorists to pull to the curb when the fire siren sounds. The ordinance also prohibited motorists following trucks to fires.
A large fire in July 1975 caused damage to MFA Feed Mill No. 2 warehouse, and the estimated damage figure was $100,000.00. Owensville and Beaufort Fire Departments were called to help fight the fire for nearly three hours while police, county law enforcement officers, and Missouri Highway Patrol closed Highway 50 and rerouted traffic around Gerald.
In the early winter of 1976 another fire caused much concern when a dwelling on Cedar Street burned. It was a windy night and the were numerous large gas tanks which could have caught fire and presented a big problem. Owensville and Beaufort Fire Departments were again called to assist.
In summer of 1976 a new fire truck (Ford chassis) was ordered and delivered. The unit was prepared for mounting of fire equipment and was completed by that fall.
On Sunday August 1, 1976 a Rock Island Freight train passed through Gerald, setting fire to the dry countryside from the Franklin-Gasconade County line east to Leslie. Men, women, girls, boys and firemen – approximately 200 people – fought the fire from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. with garden hoses, rakes, hoses, buckets, shovels, sacks, and rugs. Finally Beaufort and Owensville Fire Departments were called to assist. Bull Moose Tube and many homes were in danger for several hours.
Around 1977 a third fire station was constructed in the city limits of Rosebud.
In 2009 an extensive remodel was performed on the meeting and office area of Station 2. This work was completed with volunteer labor by the members of the department in an effort to modernize the facility.
In the summer of 2019 a large addition was made to Station #3 in Rosebud.