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Sometime after July of 1955, the Champaign City Council voted to stop the Champaign Fire Department from going to any fires outside the limits of the city. This move was taken in an effort to force adjacent subdivisions to join the corporate limits of Champaign. At the same time, it cut off fire protection to all farms and to villages such as Savoy. The order became effective January 1, 1956.

Willard Koss and John Jones, with Wallace Mulliken, Attorney, sponsored a petition requesting the County Court to call an election for the formation of a fire district, which comprised much of the area now served and area north and west of Champaign. Farm owner opposition was responsible for this proposal to be withdrawn.

After this, many meetings were held, and finally from the wisdom of many minds, it was decided to incorporate Savoy into a village and take on rural areas as subscribers on a voluntary basis. The main reason for incorporating Savoy was to provide funds for the purchasing of equipment to start a fire department. The County Court, (after receiving a petition signed by sixty-one citizens of Savoy, filed March 15, 1956), ordered an election to be held on April 7, 1956, to determine whether Savoy would incorporate. Savoy citizens (105 out of 116) voted favorably to incorporate by 50 yes votes, 49 no votes with 6 spoiled ballots being 3 yes and 3 no. The election was contested and on July 8, 1956, Judge Charles E. Keller declared the election valid.

In the meantime, on June 2, 1956, an election was held which appointed officers for the new village. On July 11, 1956, the Village Board was convened for the first time and the first act of the organization of the new board was to provide for the establishment of the Savoy Volunteer Fire Department. That committee of Board members included Henry Lawson, Ch., Willard Koss, Kenneth Fisher, and James Johnson. This committee called for a public meeting of volunteers to form a V.F.D. on July 24, 1956 at the Savoy School. Fund raising was the main topic and Willard Koss was elected Chairman of the Drive to raise funds which would culminate in a dance at the Champaign Moose Club on Thanksgiving night.

The organization of a legally constituted fire department, as set up by the State Statutes and Rules and Regulations, is a complicated process. Therefore, as rank amateurs, we were slow in proceeding; In addition, attaining financing in order to come up with the best possible combination of equipment, proved difficult.

Finally on August 30, 1956, the male citizens of Savoy who were interested in this project met at the Savoy School. James Johnson was elected Chief, with Harold Oakley and Kenneth Fisher assistant chief. The following others were also charter members in the organization:

Willard Koss, Donald Pritchard, Mike Miller
James Trover, Lyle Kuykendall, John Payton
John Jones, Vernon Brown, James Kidd
Robert Troutman, Bernard Grussing, Henry Lawson
Ernest Adair, Harry Jones, Thomas Nelson
James Corwin, Paul Curtis, Al Bell

Now we had a Volunteer Fire Department fully equipped and staffed. The Unit School Board decided to give us a hand in the form of a surplus Air Force Crash Truck. This was our first piece of equipment. Testing and training with the truck proved to be a good investment of time and energy. As on November 6, 1956, we had our first fire. A garage belonging to Edna Somers caught fire at 7:30am and was put out with little damage.

Crash Truck In order to raise money to buy equipment and get started, the Fire Department decided to hold a raffle and gave away a new 1957 Ford Custom V8, at the Annual Ball. This was held November 22, 1956 at the Moose Auditorium. A wonderful time was had by all and the department raised $3,565 to be used toward the purchase of equipment. The winner of the grand prize was George Reifsteck Jr.

General chairman of this event was Willard Koss and he was assisted by all members of the Department. This event was very successful, and all voted to continue the Ball the following years.

All efforts were then turned to buying a new truck and a permanent home for the department. We were thankful that Willard Koss was letting us use his garage for a temporary fire house.

On January 21, 1957, the Savoy Volunteer Fire Department underwent a complete reorganization in accordance with rules and regulations adopted along with by-laws.

The following were elected to serve as officials for the coming year:

Chief Kenneth Fisher
1st Ass’t. Chief Robert Troutman
2nd Ass’t Chief Lyle Kuykendall
Captain Mike Miller
Lt. James Johnson
Insp. Willard Koss
Pres. Al Bell
V.Pres. Don Pritchard
Sec’y James Trover
Treas. James Corwin
Savoy 1957 Officers
After several local meetings, the type of truck for the Department was decided upon. W. Koss, J. Jones, Jim Trover, R. Troutman, K. Fisher, and H. Lawson were the ones the burden rested upon. On January 21, 1957, a committee to arrange for the truck, lot, and building was appointed. W. Koss was chairman of this. W.S. Darley and Co. of Chicago was awarded the contract and the truck was received on April 17, 1957 [housed at the Willard Koss Residence]. It successfully passed all tests by the Illinois Inspection Bureau and was given a Class A Rural rating, plus Class 9 Village rating.

Savoy 1957 E1 Pump Test Meanwhile, work was progressing on the three-bay building. It was completed in November 1957. The cost of the building was $3,021.22. All of the labor, except for the block work and furnace, was done by the fireman. Several local business men had donated money to the Fire Department in order to get started on money raising projects to buy equipment. The truck was a 1957 F700 pumper purchased from W.S. Darley of Chicago, Il., at a cost of $8,946.72. We were awfully proud and put the new truck in the 1957 July the Fourth parade. Meantime, the Department has started a new building on the Illinois Central Railroad right-of-way with volunteer labor of the members. The blocks and bricks were laid by Ed. J. Bialaskshi. At the same time, there were money-making projects on the drawing boards such as serving dinners for Caravan Club, scrap iron drives, ice cream socials, etc. Savoy Station Construction 1957

On November 28, 1957, our second annual ball was held at the Moose Auditorium. General Chairman for the event was Francis "Al" Bell. Committee members were Koss, Pritchard, Grussing, Corwin and Kuykendall. Music was furnished by Dick Halleman. In other words, the joint was "Jumpin’".

On December 5, 1957, this little town went nationwide on all news wires. Most all newspapers in the country had articles about us, from coast to coast. Clippings were sent to us from Florida, Texas, and California. The local papers gave us a good play. Our firehouse was completed and the fire [phones] and alarm systems in. The fire number was 6-9051. This number was formerly assigned to the Eisner Meat Department. The phone would ring and the party on the other end would ask for some type of meat. This created quite a commotion for awhile, but a million dollars worth of publicity for our Department.

Mr. Earl Ross donated twenty-five metal folding chairs to the Department in appreciation of the fire department efforts in containing a fire at his farm south of the Village limits. These came just after the first building was completed and were a welcomed addition.

The first meeting in the newly built village fire house was on December 4th, 1957. The Village Board had the honor of using it on this date. What a welcome relief to see this building nearly done and a rest in sight.

Savoy Board Meeting 1957On January 6, 1958, a contract was made between the Village of Savoy and Southwest Fire Protection District to furnish fire protection until their department was in operation. Mutual aid would be arranged for later.

At the February 3, 1958 meeting, the same slate of officers were nominated for the year 1958 as had served during 1957, except for the Social officers. They were voted on and passed.

Chief Kenneth Fisher
1st Asst. Robert Troutman
2nd Asst. Lyle Kuykendall
Capt. Mike Miller
Lt. James Johnson
Insp. Willard Koss
Pres. Al Bell
V. Pres. James Buttitta
Sec. John Jones
Treas. James Corwin

On May 5, 1958, it was felt that our Department had a need for a tank truck to go with the pumper. Koss and Miller had a used 2 ton Ford chassis available for a reasonable price. A Committee was appointed to check and report. The report was favorable and the truck was purchased. A tank from the Standard Oil Company in Decatur was purchased and we had an 800 gal. tank truck. Portable pump and hose and accessories were added to put it in fire-fighting condition in December of 1958.

TankerFirst Open House Oct. 12, 1958

On Sunday, October 12, 1958, a huge open house was held by the Fire Department for the general public. There was a poster contest for the children of the Savoy Grade School with ribbons being awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place of each grade. All of the posters were on the theme of fire protection. Junior fire marshal hats were given away as well as coffee, donuts, candy, soft drinks and the like. Nearly 250 residents of Savoy and the surrounding area visited and watched the demonstrations. This was a very successful event.

The Third Annual Ball was held November 27, 1958 at the Moose Auditorium. Lyle Kuykendall was general chairman of the event, assisted by Corwin, Bell, Jones, Adair and Fisher. These Balls are gaining momentum all the time and for the Thanksgiving Holiday there is no better entertainment to found or fun to be had.

Savoy Station 1958 Savoy Fire Station - 1958

The year of 1959 was uneventful with only a few fires and none of great importance. Then came the Fourth Annual Ball, and the tempo stepped up. Again it was a tremendous success and the crowd keeps coming and getting bigger. For this event, James Buttitta was the General Chairman with the help of Al Bell, Ernie Adair, Lyle Kuykendall, Don Pritchard, Jim Corwin, and Jim Johnson. Their drive and initiative brought much success and needed funds to our department.

On February 2, 1959, our nominating committee made the following slate available for the members to choose from:

Chief Willard Koss
1st Asst. Ch. Robert Troutman
2nd Asst. Ch. Tom Nelson
Capt. Mike Miller
Lt. James Johnson
Insp. Kenneth Fisher
Pres. James Buttitta
V. Pres. Harold Oakley
Sec. James Corwin
Treas. John Jones

This slate was elected by an overwhelming majority and took office immediately. Chief Koss appointed his committees for the coming year.

On February 1, 1960, the following slate of Officers were nominated, voted on and passed:

Chief Willard Koss
1st Asst. Kenneth Fisher
2nd Asst. Henry Lawson
Capt. Lyle Kuykendall
Lt. James Johnson
Insp. Mike Miller
Pres. Don Pritchard
V. Pres. James Buttitta
Sec. Ernest Adair
Treas. James Corwin

When the Village of Savoy was incorporated, there was no money, nor any prospects of any for at least one year. The good citizens of Savoy generously donated the equivalent of a year’s taxes. The same applied in the Fire Department. No money. We, in penniless condition, leased land for our building, bought two new trucks, equipped the old crash truck to meet Class 9 specifications, bought equipment for our fire fighters, insurance for trucks and men, and the other items necessary for these types of operations. Today, we have an investment approaching $30,000 in monetary value and it is all free and clear.

SVFD has answered 41 calls to date. Losses sustained on these fires amounted to $55,130 including $20,000 which was lost on the house fire in Champaign. Total insurance coverage for the buildings involved was $183,200. Much property in addition to this was saved.

1957 Barn FireWe now have 121 subscribers outside the village who paid in a total of $2,075.00 in 1960. From rags to riches? -- No, but we have come a long way, and have a long way to go. Even now, several projects are being considered. One is a new meeting room to be built on the south side of the present fire house. We will need one new truck soon, more equipment for firemen’s safety, and a resuscitator for public first aid and safety.

Hence we are gathered tonight, July 23, 1960 to celebrate the burning of the mortgage on the building, the return of the truck title to its home, and to thank all those signers of the notes for their faith in our Village and Fire Department. We also wish to thank the wives for the countless evenings spent during the past four and one half years in preparation of our various projects and the help they have given us. We wish to thank especially Mr. Thomas Hagan of the Commercial Bank for his trust in us and Mr. Joe Fetters of the U of I Fire Extension Service for the fine training we have received from them and the films and advice so freely given.