History of the Fire Department (Courtesy of Mary Ann Stemper)
The City of Prairie du Chien was incorporated in 1872, and the Fire Department was created by ordinance in 1873. There were four fire companies, the boundaries of which followed the city wards for the most part. The Phoenix #1 Company, the largest company, served the second and third wards and was reputed to get the best of everything. Company #1 was assisted by the Cataract #2 Company which was made up of all young men and was sometimes called Assistant #2. Aetna #3 Company served the lower town or 1st Ward. The Badger Company #4 served the 4th Ward, which was all on St. Feriole Island at the time, and it was said to have the best esprit de corps.
In 1903, the City Council went from a volunteer to a paid force which reduced the size of the Department to 32 firefighters but that lasted only a year, when the department became an all volunteer force again. The Fire Department maintained the four companies until 1930, when they merged to form one City Fire Department.
In 1946, the City created the Police and Fire Commission, a board of five members appointed by the Mayor to serve 5 year terms. The Police and Fire Commission duties are to hire the Fire Chief, Police Chief, and their subordinates and to mediate any disciplinary problems in either department.
In 1976, the City hired its first full time Fire Chief to over see the operation of the Department and perform all required fire prevention inspections.