LAMAR, Mo. — 2022 is a big year for Lamar.

Tomorrow the Lamar Fire Department is celebrating 125 years.

Lamar Fire Chief Rick Heinen has been with the department for 40 years and said there has been a lot of change for the better during his time with the FD.

“They had some fire notations in the historical society dating back as far as 1891. There used to be 20 firefighters and they drug a hose reel and cart to chase fires,” said Heinen.

According to the Barton County Historical Society the City of Lamar passed an ordinance establishing the fire department on January 6, 1897.

“It was very specific it laid down the rules. That’s when they first had a Chief that was paid. They had an Assistant Chief. The Fireman were paid $1.50 per fire, but that was in the ordinance and it just kind of laid down the rules. One of the rules I giggled at the fireman couldn’t receive their pay until they helped put the hose away,” said Joe Davis, a volunteer with the Historical Society.

As you can imagine, the Fire Department has come a long way since then.

“We actually have fire gear drying equipment now and washing equipment. We upgraded some of our breathing apparatus and the ability to refill it here with newer technology. Extrication is something fire departments have to do a lot at automobile accidents. And we’ve got some new extrication equipment to help us achieve that end goal,” said Heinen.

“Since I’ve started massive changes to equipment and personal protection for ourselves. When I very first started we just started to use self contained breathing apparatus to help us fight fires in structures and such. Before that it was smoke eaters. Finding hidden fires. We have thermal imaging equipment that helps us find hidden fires and if we have someone lost in the fire and the smoke is so heavy it helps us locate the fire victims also.”

The fire chief hopes to expand the department in the future.

“We’ve outgrown this building. Eventually we would like to have a building on the east side of the railroad tracks over there to have some more equipment. So that if we have trains that are stopped we have people that live on both side of the tracks we would still be able to respond in a timely manner.”