Laced with a rich history, the Sedalia Fire Department, which began as a paid entity in 1887, became a little richer yesterday with the donation of several SFD collectibles given to the department at their new headquarters on West 16th Street.
Sedalia resident Loy Homan received some of the items from the daughter of former SFD Chief “Potts” Emmett Vaught, Ethelu Stephens, of St. Louis.
“We wouldn’t have this if it hadn’t been for her,” Homan said. “I asked her if she had any memorabilia of Potts and the next time she showed up she gave it to me.”
Homan’s collection contains two helmets — one a leather helmet belonging to former SFD Chief Paul dated 1885, and Chief Vaught’s helmet — along with a seven SFD badges, a letter from Sedalia Mayor Ralph R. Walker commemorating Vaught for helping with the Terry Hotel fire in 1967, a black and white photo of the historic Terry Hotel fire and a plaque given to Vaught for his service spanning 1929 to 1972.
The helmets were made by Kairns and Brothers, the same company that makes the current helmets for the department, said SFD Deputy Chief Greg Harrell.
At first Homan, a member of the Pettis County Historical Society, thought he might donate the items to the society, but decided to give them to the SFD while attending the Firefighter Memorial Service at Liberty Park sometime back.
Helping place the items into the glass and wood cases Tuesday was SFD Battalion Chief David Lilly, a second generation firefighter.
“My dad (Richard Lilly) came here in ’66,” Lilly said. “He was here 40 years and he retired in ’06. I had two uncles and of course they were all from the same family.”
One of Lilly’s uncles had 19 years with the department and another 33 years before retiring.
In accordance with the department’s long history, Harrell said he is hoping they will receive other SFD memorabilia to add to the ongoing collection, now that there is room for it in the new headquarters.
“We had the Optimist Club here for a visit last week,” Harrell said. “It was nice. There was so many comments that were positive about the building and the truck. And it’s nice that we are starting to get some collections. “
Lilly had brought in a cracked spittoon that once belonged to SFD Chief John Lueck, who was chief from 1936 to 1958.
“It was right after my dad came here in ‘66, they were cleaning out and putting stuff in the back of the station,” Lilly said. “And they found a bunch of Chief Lueck’s personal belongings. They threw it out in the street and it broke, so this spittoon went out the window. Anyway dad got it and gave it to me.”
“David brought that in last week,” Harrell added. “This hose hanger, those were made at the Missouri Pacific Shops and it hung in the tower at the old Kentucky Street Station. Those pieces came from our station, they are part of our history. And that is what it’s like with these helmets. It not like something we bought, but it’s something we once had. That’s something that the people who came before us had.
“The fire service is very rich in tradition, we believe a lot in history and keeping it alive. This came from our department and our station, that’s what makes it so cool.”
Harrell said if anyone wants to contribute historical SFD items to either call him, Chief Mike Ditzfeld or one of the officers at 826-8044.