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Hillside Fire Department

Prairies of tall dry grass posed a fire threat the pioneers of the area.  In the 1800s a bucket brigade was a settler's only real hope should a prairie fire attack a home or barn.  In 1903, before the incorporation of Village, the Hillside Volunteer Fire Department was created. Early firemen included:

The early firefighters still depended on cistern water until 1918. Then, during Village President John Wolf’s administration the Village purchased its first "official" first fire-fighting equipment, a four-wheel horse-drawn pumper. Wolf’s decision may have been influenced by the destruction by fire of Herman Henke’s barn in 1918. Even with the new pumper, the early firefighters were still dependent on cistern water. When Murphy's Tavern (at Harrison and Lind) caught fire, the new pumper was brought the fire under control until Murphy's cistern ran dry.

The first fire station and the department volunteers -- from the "Progress, Pride, Growth, 1905 - 1980, 75th Anniversary --Village of Hillside"

The first Fire Station was a shed built in 1914 behind the first Village Hall. It remained in service until 1927 when the Village dug a 1600 foot well and erected a water tank on the site. A new Fire Station was built in 1928. Water mains and fire hydrants were then installed in the Village. As Hillside grew, a new 500 gallon per minute pumper was acquired. The firemen were called to duty by three telephone warning lines which were activated by the desk man at the Police Station. Five new members joined the Volunteer Fire Department:

In 1929 Fire Chief George Stolte recommended to the Village Board that two percent of premiums paid to insurance companies by Hillside residents could legally be obtained if the Village passed a specific ordinance. The Board passed the Ordinance and a canvass of homes was conducted by members of the Volunteer Fire Department.

In 1949, a 1,000 gallon per minute pumper was purchased and a siren was mounted on the roof of the Village Hall. The three telephone warning lines were discontinued. Two years later an additional 500 gallon per minute pumper was acquired.

By 1956, the Fire Department consisted of 25 men who worked on a paid-on-call basis. The Fire Department equipped with up-to-date lifesaving and fire fighting equipment expected each man to be familiar with all phases of fire-fighting. At this time the officers included Fire Chief Edmund Mueller, Assistant Fire Chief Tom O'Leary, Lieutenant Arthur Bimler and Captain Herbert Power.

The new Fire Station at Wolf and Washington was built in 1959 and was designed with space for living quarters for full-time firemen. In 1963, when Fire Chief Edmund Mueller became seriously ill, his brother, Martin A. Mueller, succeeded him as Fire Chief. Both men were life-long residents of Hillside, and the new Fire Chief had been a Volunteer fireman for some thirty years. Fire Chief Martin Mueller saw the antiquated 1900's pumper donated to a fire equipment museum, and after restoration by its manufacturer, the Goulds Pump, Inc., put on permanent display in the company's museum in Seneca Falls, New York.

Hillside Police Department

The Marshall in 1901 was August Kumnick.  He enforced law and order in the community until the Village was incorporated.  On December 30, 1905,  Marion F. Covell was elected the first Police Magistrate of the new Village.  On January 19, 1906, Richard McGurk became the first Marshal appointed by the newly elected Hillside Officials.

Marshals and police officers in the early 1900s included:

After 1910 Police headquarters were located in the Village Hall on Wolf Road. The early policemen used motorcycles or patrolled by walking.

The 1920s found Chief Adam Stang driving the first Village-owned squad car, a Hupmobile touring car with a bulletproof windshield.  Officer Eugene Schmaizreid rode a motorcycle.  "Special" officers during this time included Walter and Louis Lommatzsch.  Late in the decade Eugene Schmaizreid succeeded Adam Stang as the Chief of Police and Officer Shirley Miller joined the force.

In 1924 Joe Coffman was discharged at Chief of Police.  Read New Chief At Hillside_LaGrange Citizen_Sep 4 1924.

Martin Stolte succeeded Chief Schmaizread as the Chief of Police in 1930.  Chief Stolte was to remain the Police Chief until 1948.  He oversaw many changes from the one-man law enforcement department at the beginning of his office.  The occasional help of part-time "specials" was continued.  One of the first changes under Chief Stolte came in 1931 when the first police communication equipment was purchased for the Village squad car.  In 1936 Hillside elected its own Police Magistrate (Joseph Cotugno) to try local court cases.

In 1948 Officer Robert Zimmerman and Chief Stolte alternated by working 12 hour shifts.  During those years some of the "Specials" included:

Martin Stolte retired in 1955 with Officer Robert Zimmerman becoming the Chief of Police. The department increased to four men, including Chief Zimmerman, Sergeant Erwin Kuschel, Officers Reinhold (Hans) Lommatzsch and Earl DuBeau.

In 1956 Officers Robert Huffman and William Olson joined the force.  The brought the Hillside Police Department to a six men full-time force.  Two radio equipped squad cars and a 24 hour phone answering service came into service.  Crime detection apparatus and photographic equipment were added.  Speed regulations on Village streets and highways were enforced with the use of an electric speed timer unit.

Members of the department attended police schools at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cook County Juvenile School offered instructions and the course was taken by several Hillside policemen.

Robert Huffman, who started on the Police force in 1953 as a part-time "Special", became a patrolman in 1956, and in May, 1957 was appointed Chief of Police succeeding Robert Zimmerman.  Captain Zimmerman died after 11 years of police service.

In 1959 when Cardinal Stritch was laid to rest in Mount Carmel Cemetery, Chief Huffman and his department (22 men and five squad cars) were put in charge of traffic and security arrangements.  Chicago provided 150 men including 14 on three-wheel motorcycles to patrol the Village streets since the area was filled with important people.  The funeral procession included 66 young men from the police academy not yet assigned to any district.  Dressed in new uniforms and white gloves they made an impressive sight to the hundreds of people who lined the roadsides.

In 1960 Chief Huffman and the police department coordinated local security arrangements for Vice President Richard Nixon.  He spoke in the Hillside Shopping Center on a campaign stop in his run for the Presidency against Senator John F. Kennedy.  On that day 165 policemen from surrounding towns were assigned to different areas of the Village.

In October, 1972 the Hillside Police Department provided traffic and security control for Vice President Spiro Agnew as he visited the Proviso West High School.

In 1977 Hillside and neighboring police departments installed a new (instantaneous and interference free) UHF radio system providing each officer with portable radio communications in and out of his patrol vehicle. A teletype system in Springfield links Hillside with the National Crime Information Center. Information on stolen autos and property as well as wanted persons is part of the help this system gives the department.

Chief Robert Huffman retired on May 1, 1980 after 25 years of service in Village law enforcement. Others who retired after 20 years of service have included:

Sergeant Erwin Kuschel died in 1957 and Officer Anthony Raymond in 1972.

Chief of Police Charles R. Janata succeeded Robert Huffman in 1980. Chief Janata, the former Deputy Superintendent of the Cicero Police Department, emphasized on modern police training through college courses in police science.

The primary source of this information was:

Last Modified:  08/14/2007