Demolition recalls history of West Kankakee fire station

KANKAKEE, Ill. (AP) –The demolition of a factory building this week resulted in the discovery of a piece of West Kankakee history.

The (Kankakee) Daily Journal reports workers pulling veneer from part of the Roper factory found porcelain-coated metal signs that read, “West Kankakee Fire Department.”

West Kankakee was incorporated separately and had its own fire protection district prior to annexation to Kankakee. 

Jim Maass was fire chief at the station from 1961 to 1982. He says Roper Corp. built the structure for the department adjacent to the factory in 1957. 

Maass says the company’s boiler house employee pulled the alarm during emergencies. 

The station on Illinois 17 had three bays. It housed 1947 Dodge and 1958 International pumper trucks. An ambulance was improvised out of a 1954 Ford bread truck.