History of the Belleville Fire Department

  The Belleville Fire Department began in 1890 with a Bucket Brigade. From 1890 until 1912 the Brigade composed of men wearing red flannel jackets trimmed with brass buttons fought the fires with buckets, which they transported, to fires on a hand drawn cart. Water was pumped from the river or village cisterns. The first constitution and By Laws were adopted in 1895. In 1912, the village of Belleville got its first municipal water system as the Bucket Brigade was reorganized into the Belleville Fire Department. A few years later the village along with the townships of Montrose and Exeter formed the Belleville, Montrose, and Exeter Fire Association. In 1922 the department got its first motorized fire trucks which carried ladders and a hose real to assist with fire fighting. In 1951 the department consisted of two pumper trucks equipped with 500 gallon per minute pumps and 1300 gallon tanker truck. Originally, firefighters were first notified of fires by a fire bell. After the installation of a telephone system, the local operator called the firemen individually to inform them of a fire. The siren alerting system began in the late 1940’s. In the early 1950’s special telephones were installed in the homes of firefighters along with the use of the siren. Today, firemen are alerted through the Dane County 911 Center via pagers. The department has a full staff of 35 volunteers who respond to over 100 calls per year. The department is always looking for people interested in becoming a firefighter. If interested come down to the station on any Monday night, contact any firefighter, or contact the village hall. The Belleville Fire Department has had  14 Fire Chiefs who have served the department since 1912, Robert Luchsinger ( 1912 Charter), George Milem, Herb Krittle, Frank Willoughby (1939-40), James Swann (1941-44), Frank Willoughby (1945), Casper Zentner (1946), Norman Buss (1947-49), Frank Willoughby (1950), Lyle Herfel (1951-53), Bill Hoenisch (1954), Norm Buss (1955-1967), John Zentner (1967-1995), Tom Adams (1995-2009) ,Ron Babler (2009-2015), Brian Hollis (2015-present). Four fires stand out in the history of the Belleville Fire Department. 1) The fire that destroyed the old bowling alley on 1st Street in New Glarus, in 1959. Belleville crew members sprayed water for over 12 hours on a very cold night. 2) The Paoli Fire in 1966 where firefighters fought in sub-zero temperatures, a blaze that engulfed the store and tavern.Water pumped from the Sugar River froze immediately. 3) The fire at Bastogne Sausage Plant in 1976 on Main Street was one of the worst in recent memory. The Belleville Fire Department along with New Glarus and Verona battled the fire for approximately thirty-six hours in very cold conditions. 4) The fire at the Anderson Processing Co. was on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving in 1997. Firemen worked from early evening until 4a.m. to extinguish the blaze which started in the roof of the former Pet Milk Company. Today the department has 7 vehicles: a 1500 gpm engine, 1250 gpm engine, two tankers, 2000 gallon and 1800 gallon, A rescue truck and one 6&6 ATV.