Spanish Lake Fire Protection District

Serving Northern St. Louis County, Missouri

  • Spanish Lake Fire Protection District
  • Fire and Rescue
  • Honor and Tradition
  • Always Ready
  • Fire Suppression
  • All Hazards Rescue

History of Spanish Lake Fire

     The history of the Spanish Lake Fire District dates back to the period of World War II.  At a meeting held February 4, 1944, the Spanish Lake District of Civilian Defense and Auxiliary Fire Equipment Committee voted to receive equipment to be used for extinguishing small fires.  The equipment was being offered by the federal government with the understanding that the District maintain the equipment until the federal government may demand return.  At a second meeting, held at Larimore School, it was decided to organize a volunteer firefighting unit and to incorporate the same in the Spanish Lake Fire District.

     After several more meetings and much hard work by the pioneers of this project, the State of Missouri granted a decree of incorporation to this organization, to be known as the Spanish Lake Community Volunteer Fire Prevention Organization.  On June 28, 1944 the first meeting of this new organization took place.  Original board members included Walter A. Anderson, Julius O. Trampe, Frank C. Twillman, Burr S. Goodman, Charles Morris, Oscar Koch, and Ernst Elbrecht.  Cash and pledges amounted to $1,139.00 being recorded by the treasurer.  The first fund-raising picnic held by the fire department occurred on October 1, 1944 and resulted in a profit of $1,569.31.

     At a meeting held in March of 1945, the treasurer’s report showed a balance of $4,407.07. This same month the fire department purchased its first fire engine, a new 500 gpm International/Central pumper.  Three months later a site at the intersection of Bellefontaine and Parker roads was purchased and construction of the first Spanish Lake fire station was started almost immediately.   The new fire engine had to be housed temporarily in a shed behind Barlbort’s General Store and Tavern until the new fire station was completed in January of 1946.  Local grocer and tavern owner Harry Barlbort was named the first volunteer fire chief of the department.  Harry Barlbort served as chief until May of 1962 and is one of only six people to hold the rank of Spanish Lake Fire Chief.

     By 1952 the department had grown to a volunteer force of nearly seventy firemen.  Also in this year the department ordered a new 750 gpm pumper. Seagrave Model 400-B #G-75 was delivered to the department at a cost of $20,000.  In September of 1953 the residents of the area incorporated into a fire protection district to be supported by property taxes.  Borders of the district were listed as Hwy. 99 to the west, Hwy. 66 to the south, and the Mississippi and Missouri rivers to the east and north.  The population was 3,500 with an assessed valuation of three million. In 1957 the district hired its first two paid firefighters who alternated daily.  In 1958 the district responded to 67 calls.

     On January 22, 1960 the Spanish Lake community suffered a terrible loss when one its firefighters was killed in the line of duty. Firefighter William Brogden died tragically in an automobile accident while responding to an emergency call.  The Brogden family was the first family ever to receive benefits from the Backstoppers.  

     At the 180th board meeting of the fire department held on February 8, 1960, Chief Barlbort issued badges to new volunteers.  Larry Boyer received Badge # 48 and Bob Ritter received Badge # 42.  In 1962 August A, (Gus) Liliensiek was appointed as the first paid fire chief. The department celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1965 with a staff of 8 paid firemen and 25 volunteers.      

     The 1970s brought big changes to the District.  In April of 1972, Station # 2 at 11811 Larimore Road was opened and an additional four firefighters were hired.  Since the early days calls for help were phoned in directly to Station # 1 and then dispatched by firefighters.  On December 20, 1974 this practice ended as North-Central County Fire Alarm began dispatching emergency calls at 14:30 hours.  The next year on November 15, 1976 the era of running ‘inhalator’ calls came to an end as Christian Hospital began ambulance service in north county.  In 1978 Larry Boyer was appointed fire chief upon the death of then Fire Chief August A. Liliensiek.

     In the 1980s staffing increased again bringing the number of firefighters to fifteen along with six captains, the fire chief, and assistant chief.  The firefighters and captains are all members of IAFF Local 2665.  On Christmas Eve of 1989 one of the largest fires in the history of the district occurred.  A six alarm arson fire destroyed a three story building at the Raintree Apartments on Mollerus Drive.

     In 1999 the fire district opened its new administration center next door to Station # 2.  Spanish Lake voters approved a three million dollar bond issue in 2000 to finance two new pieces of apparatus as well as a major expansion of Station # 1.  In 2001 the district’s first and only ladder truck was placed into service.  The 75’ quint apparatus served the district for the next fourteen years.

     On April 1, 2005 Larry Boyer retired as Fire Chief after serving over four decades with the district.  On this same date Asst. Chief Robert Ritter was appointed as the new Fire Chief of the SLFPD.  In 2011 the district expanded its water rescue capabilities with the purchase of a Sea Ark rescue boat.  The district also utilizes a Zodiac inflatable boat for water rescues.   In 2013 Central County E911 began dispatching emergency calls for Spanish Lake and the other north county fire departments.  In 2012 Chief Ritter retired from the district and Michael Flavin was appointed to the position of fire chief, a title he held until 2015 when Captain Rich Swain was named as the new Fire Chief of the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District.