Polk City Fire Department History
The first record of Polk City city council minutes begins with these words: “Minutes of last meeting was destroyed by fire in the night of October 21, 1891.”
For several weeks city officials were busy buying new books, a new seal, finding a meeting room (at C. Schroeder’s office) and figuring out how much money they had. But, as the smoke cleared, a special meeting was called.
On December 29, 1891, Mayor Engleston called a special meeting stating “that the object of the meeting was to make protection against fire.”
A motion was unanimously passed “that a committee of two be appointed to secure an eight-man force, a pump and two tanks of at least 15 gallons each, on trucks.”
The same committee was instructed to get 150 feet of hose and two nozzles suitable for the pumps.
A committee of one was appointed to construct a building for the pump, etc., belonging to the town. The pump committee was also instructed to get 12 leather buckets, 6 fire hooks and 4 axes.
The council members at this historic meeting were Engleston, Dallemand, Bullington, Schroeder and Kurtz. Members Harmon and Gilbriath were absent. The meeting was recorded by G.W. McLean.
During the month of February, 1892, the town eagerly awaited the arrival of the pumps. On February 8, the pumps had been shipped but not received. February 15, ditto.
There was a general election in March, and everyone was so busy campaigning that they forgot to record that the pump arrived. But on March 21, a bill was approved for $11.87, freight for the pump and another from Kefort Bros. for the pump at $120.
On March 23, 1892, a special meeting was called. There evidently was a problem with the pump. A letter from Kerfort listed four different pumps at four different prices. There was much debate.
The council convened on March 16, 1892, with Mayor Matter presiding. A motion was made for council to proceed to try the fire pump which arrived. “The trial was made, owing to the pump not giving entire satisfaction.”
“C. Bullington be instructed to notify Kerfort Bros. by telephone: to send a man up and have him to bring a larger nozzle.”
Two days later the council accepted the pump and had a warrant drawn from the treasurer to pay for it.
Polk City had fire protection!
Written by: Roxana Currie - July 1994
Fire protection company organized here in 1947
As a result of two barns being destroyed by fire on the Harvey Moeckly and Bill Fleming Jr. farms in January of 1947 the Polk City Fire Protection Company was formed. Both men were members of the Kiwanis Club and they talked [to the Kiwanis] about the need for fire protection equipment and the company was formed immediately.
Moeckly reported that shares were sold to the surrounding rural area at $50 per share and when a portion of the money was raised the company, of which Moeckly was president, purchased the first fire truck. It was a John Bean High Pressure Tank Truck.
The department made a fee of $75 to non-shareholders and free protection to city residents.
The Board of Directors of the Polk City Fire Protection Company were Harvey Moeckly, Bill Fleming Jr., Gaylon Redding, A.F. Miller, L.A. Moeckly, R.F. Williams, and R.H. Blake.
When the truck arrived a volunteer fire department was organized with Harvey Moeckly as fire chief. He held this position for a total of 17 years and gave it up when he moved to Ankeny. The company worked with the city to build a fire station and when it was completed the equipment was given to Polk City for them to house and to man.
Moeckly reported the late George Leonard, who was a retired road construction worker and employee of Polk County, should be given lots of credit for the day-to-day maintenance on the equipment so it would be ready to go when a fire call came in.
Claude Thornton was named fire chief after Moeckly and he was followed by Floyd Hale and Harold Derickson.
Written by: Roxana Currie - January 1991
Confusion...1891 to 1946 or 1947???
The confusion lies with how the Polk City Fire Department was organized.
It was NOT organized. The City of Polk City called meetings, purchased equipment and committees were formed. Fire protection efforts were put forward by neighbors, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. Nobody was turned down to help with a bucket brigade! There was no one person in charge, just neighbors helping neighbors.
The barn fire in January 1947 did spark the Polk City Fire Protection Company but it was in 1946 when the company officially became an organization with the City of Polk City.
Six Kiwanians and members of the Polk City Fire Protection Company are shown surrounding the 1948 IHC/John Bean fire truck (see photo below). John Moeckly, Ray Readling, Bill Flemming, Al McCarty, Chief Harvey Moeckly and Floyd Hale (listed left to right). Thanks to the Kiwanis for their foresight in recognizing that Polk City needed fire coverage and for putting together the monies.
In 1947 the Kiwanis ordered an IHC/John Bean fire truck in means to help with protecting the city. Pump number – 473, Motor number – 47577 and Chassis number – 31960. The truck was delivered on June 30th 1948.
Throughout the years meetings were called, more equipment was purchased and more committees were formed. People of Polk City volunteered their time in efforts to help thy neighbor. Members came and members went.
Polk City went from two man cab fire trucks to six man, riding tailboard to buckling before the truck leaves the apron, long coats and rubber boots to full turnout gear and leathers, fire phones to pagers and radios. One things stays true…we are still neighbors helping neighbors!
In Memoriam - LODD
On January 5th, 1976 Chief Floyd Hale died in the line of duty while operating at the scene of a garage fire at 408 W. Church Street. While protecting his community Chief Hale suffered a heart attack. Chief Hale has been the only Line of Duty Death in the history of the Polk City Fire Department.
His name is forever engraved in the Iowa Firefighters Memorial Wall located in Coralville, Iowa. Click here to go to the Iowa Firefighters Memorial website or to view Chief Hale's name on the memorial wall (row 2, 28th name down) by clicking here.
~Rest in Peace Chief Hale!~
Polk City Fire Chiefs:
Chief Harvey Moeckley -- 1946 - 1963
Chief Claude Thornton -- 1963 - 1968
Chief Floyd Hale -- 1968 - 1975
Chief Roy "Harold" Derickson -- 1976 - 1982
Chief Jim Smith -- 1982 - 1986
Chief Dan England -- 1987 - 1992
Chief Gary Cory -- 1993 - 2002
Chief Jason Morse -- 2003 - 2012
Chief Dan Gubbins -- 2012 - 2018
Chief Jim Mitchell -- 2018 - 2022
Chief Karla Hogrefe -- 2022 - Present