29th Annual Jeffco Fire Engine Rally
The 29th Annual Jeffco Fire Engine Rally was held on Saturday, September 30 at Herculaneum City Park. The annual event is sponsored by the Jefferson County Firefighters Association. The fall weather was unusually warm for September with temperatures in the 90s as the opening ceremony began. The annual event attracted firefighters, their families, children, and festivalgoers from across the state and western Illinois.
The rally began with a parade of 40-plus fire apparatus and other emergency equipment traveling from Crystal City to the city park in Herculaneum, where most of the apparatus remained on static display throughout the day. Air-rescue helicopters from LifeNet (Air Methods) were on static display during the event.
Following the parade, an opening ceremony was held that included a memorial service for the men and women associated with the Jefferson County Fire Service who had passed away since the last rally was held in September 2022. The memorial included the reading of the individual’s name, and their date of death followed by a single ring of the memorial bell. Individuals remembered this year included: Heath M. Besand – Dunklin Fire Protection District, Bob Bohmie – High Ridge Fire Protection District, Donald F. Brown – Hillsboro Fire Protection District, Richard Hiel – Rock Township Ambulance District, Ted W. Howell – DeSoto Fire Department & DeSoto Rural Fire Protection District, Al LaPointe – Rock Community Fire Protection District, Dennis Sanchez – Festus Fire Department, Crystal City Fire Department & Joachim-Plattin Ambulance District, Danny J. Scharf – DeSoto Fire Department, Robert W. “Bob” Schlingmann – Hillsboro Fire Protection District & Goldman Fire Protection District, Tommy Seegers – DeSoto Rural Fire Protection District & Valle Ambulance District, Cindy Vaugh – Joachim-Plattin Ambulance District and Barbara A. Williams – Valle Ambulance District.
A moment of silence in remembrance of the 22nd anniversary of September 11, 2001, was also included in the memorial. Members of the Jefferson County Color Guard presented the flags before the beginning of the opening ceremony. Bagpiper Ian Ebrecht led the color guard to the rally stage.
The opening ceremony included the introduction of the rally Grand Marshal and Junior Grand Marshal. Retired Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Grimshaw of the Rock Community Fire Protection District was honored as Rally Grand Marshal. Karter Luke-Lee McGee of St. Louis County represented the Midwest Children’s Burn Camp and Burns Recovered Support Group of St. Louis, MO as the Junior Grand Marshal. The O’Fallon Fire Protection District and the Goose Creek Lake Fire Department transported the grand marshals to the parade and the stage area.
The rally features fire-rescue demonstrations each year, and the 29th rally was no different. The Crystal City Fire Department assisted the St. Louis Chapter of the National Sprinkler Alliance with a side-by-side demonstration comparing fire suppression with and without a sprinkler system in a residential fire. The Festus Fire Department presented a vehicle stabilization demonstration.
For the fifth year in a row, a Dalmatian show was held with medals being presented to the first and second-place winners in six categories: Largest Dalmatian, Smallest Dalmatian, Most Spots, Fewest Spots, Best Trick, and Best Dressed. The first and second-place winners of each category are: First Place – Ember owned by Avalon Boehme of Pevely, MO. Second Place – Cinder owned by Sparrow Boehme of Pevely, MO.
First Place – Pierce owned by James Fields of Bonne Terre, MO. Second Place – Ember owned by James Fields of Bonne Terre, MO.
First Place – Pierce owned by James Fields of Bonne Terre, MO. Second Place – Cinder owned by Sparrow Boehme of Pevely, MO.
First Place – Ember owned by James Fields of Bonne Terre, MO. Second Place – Demi owned by Ashley Gravett of Bismarck, MO.
Best Dressed Dalmatian
First Place – Pongo owned by Kayla Bert of Chester, IL. Second Place – Ela owned by Kara Ann Sinclair of St. Charles, MO.
Best Dalmatian Pet Trick
First Place – Demi owned by Ashley Gravett of Bismarck, MO. Second Place – Ela owned by Kara Ann Sinclair of St. Charles, MO.
Each year the rally features numerous activities for the children in attendance including a scavenger hunt, a balloon artist, two magic shows, face paintings, a bounce house and other inflatables, a children’s firefighter challenge, a photo booth, and a fire safety house. The fire safety house is provided by the Rock Community Fire Protection District. The Shekinah Masonic Lodge 256, the Joachim Masonic Lodge 164, and the DeSoto Masonic Lodge 119 held their MO Chip child identification program for the children in attendance.
Apparatus awards were presented to the various fire departments and emergency services in the following categories:
Washington Fire Department
Wolf Creek Fire Protection District
Newest Apparatus in Service
Festus Fire Department
Best Overall Antique
Goose Creek Lake Fire Department
Best Overall Rescue Apparatus
St. Clair Fire Protection District
Best Overall Current Apparatus
Festus Fire Department
Best Overall Ground Cover Apparatus
Ste. Genevieve Fire Department
Best Overall EMS Apparatus
Joachim-Plattin Ambulance District
Best Aerial Apparatus
Crystal City Fire Department
Best Pumper Apparatus
Wolf Creek Fire Protection District
Best Tanker Apparatus
Hematite Fire Protection District
Oldest Apparatus in Service
Bloomsdale Fire Protection District
Heritage Apparatus Award
O’Fallon Fire Protection District
Herculaneum Fire Department
As with any festival, the rally features numerous vendor spaces for new and used fire equipment vendors, fire memorabilia collectors, informational booths, and general merchandise vendors. As with any festival, vendors provided food and drink, sno-cones, and kettle corn.
The Jefferson County Firefighters Association thanks all the vendors, equipment sales, and food vendors for participating in this year’s rally. A big thank you goes out to the sponsors of the event and to those who attended.
Mark your calendars now! The Thirtieth Jeffco Fire Engine Rally will be held on Saturday, September 28, 2024, in Herculaneum.