7/23/2024 84° 217-429-1031


About The Department

South Wheatland Firefighters respond to an average of 250 calls per year. South Wheatland Fire Protection District provides fire and basic life support rescue/ems response to our district. Additional services provided to residents of our district include hazardous materials first response, search and rescue, fire prevention and public education. South Wheatland also installs smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and key boxes for residents of our district.

Three trustees’ manage the finances and administrative operations of the Fire Department Fire Chief Tom Williams runs the day to day operations of the Fire Department with the assistance of Assistant Chief Dane Hodges, Lieutenant’s Rodney Hagan and Todd Speckman. Twenty firefighters professionally serve the residents of our district, citizens that may travel through and work in our district on a daily basis. South Wheatland Fire Protection District offers training to its members every Thursday night except for major holidays. We also conduct special training events on Saturdays and Sundays each year as well as attending training at outside training courses offered around the state, including Richland Community College and the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute.

South Wheatland Fire Protection District is one of many departments in State of Illinois and surrounding states that participate in the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS). MABAS is a statewide mutual aid organization that was organized in the Chicago area in the 1960's to systematically provide mutual aid response to emergencies and provide for uniformity throughout that mutual aid response. Since its inception, MABAS has spread throughout Illinois and into adjoining states such as Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Macon County is designated "Division 46”.

Department History

South Wheatland Fire Protection District started to take shape in the early morning hours of Saturday November 22, 1952 at Precinct No. 1 Elm Grove School and Precinct No. 2 Enterprise School, as voters started casting their votes for fire protection. Within five days after the election, the results showed that of one hundred seventy ballots cast, there were one hundred fifty-five ballots cast for the organization, establishment and incorporation of South Wheatland Fire protection District and only fifteen ballots against, with precinct number 1 voting sixty in favor and ten against and precinct number 2 voted ninety—five in favor of a Fire District and five against. The results were approved on December 15th, 1952 by Macon County Judge Grenias. John W. Perkins (President), Charles S. Nessler (Vice President), and William A. Rennert (Secretary—Treasurer), were appointed as trustees to oversee the fire protection district, and held their first meeting on August 05, 1953. Jim Lee was appointed as Fire Chief, with a staff of two Assistant Chiefs, one Captain, and One Lieutenant. The command structure of the South Wheatland Fire Department has been revised periodically over the years, to our current structure of one Fire Chief, one Assistant Chief, and two Lieutenants.

Fire Protection was provided for all areas south of Lake Decatur that did not currently have formal fire protection, including where South Shores is now. In addition, the South Wheatland Fire Department also provided fire protection along where Lake Shore Drive is now and in the Lost Bridge Road area, until these areas were annexed into the city of Decatur.

The first piece of fire equipment for the South Wheatland Fire Department was ordered in 1954, during the period when the Fire Department was being organized. Engine 1 was a 1954 Central States pumper mounted on an International—Harvester chassis. It was able to pump 500 gallons—per—minute and carried 500 gallons of water with it to a fire. Although the cab only had room for two firefighters to ride, additional personnel rode on the tailboard of the engine, a practice that is now considered unsafe and no longer allowed. This Engine is in reserve and still with the department today.

Fire Station History

The South Wheatland Fire Protection District‘s first fire station was located at 510 Southside Drive, on the opposite side of the street as Lugari's heavy truck repair. A few months later the trustees were able to purchase the property where the fire station is currently located at 1851 S Taylorville Road.

In 1960, a two bay, double deep, station was built at the current location with the original 1 bay metal building moved from 510 South Side Drive to be attached to the rear of the new 2 bay station. In 1991, a new addition was constructed on to the north side of the existing station. Currently, our rescue squad and original pumper are stationed on this side of the building. This side of the building is also utilized for our supply room, work shop and overhead storage.

In 2003, another new addition was added to the south side of the fire station. This addition added an additional 6,400 square feet of space. Currently, all front line fire suppression and special operations equipment are stationed on this side of the building. The apparatus bays were constructed to be eighty feet deep to allow for adequate storage and future expansion. We also refill our self—contained breathing apparatus on this side of the station, store spare hose, and house our hose/gear dryer.

In 2007, the former apparatus bays had their doors removed and replaced with walls with windows in them and a pedestrian door. This portion of the fire station was gutted and renovated to move our radio/dispatching room up to the front of the station, along with the Trustee's, Officers and Fire Chiefs offices, also adding a larger training room, a day room for our firefighters, a Kitchen, clean-up room, Video Library, (3) Restrooms and a Gear Room. The old training room which was the old Fire Station located in the rear of the fire station, was removed and our parking lot expanded. We also increased our storage space as well in several areas of the fire station.

Homeland Security

In 2004 the Macon County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) (which is a portion of Homeland Security Region 15), received a homeland security grant to purchase and equip two trailers for the purpose of mass patient decontamination after a large – scale hazardous material incident or a terrorism incident of hazardous materials in nature. In 2005, Macon County EMA took delivery of the trailers and turned them over to two Macon County Fire Departments. South Wheatland received one trailer and the Hickory Point Fire Protection District in Forsyth received the other trailer. The trailer housed at South Wheatland Fire Protection District, is earmarked for gross decontamination of victims at St. Mary’s Hospital and is supported by the Hospital as well.

Accomplishments & achievements

The following highlights some of the achievements our departments has reached.

Federal FIRE Act Grants
  • 2002 — $56,000 to purchase portable radios, hydraulic and air powered heavy rescue equipment, and training equipment including computer and LCD projector
  • 2003 — $113,000 to purchase new Self Contained Breathing Apparatus equipment, air compressor, mobile radios, and a remote base station “with paging and digital recording capabilities,” and a gear/hose dryer.
  • 2004 —$170,000 to purchase a 2,400—gallon tanker with a 750gpm pump—n—roll pump.
  • 2005 — $55,000 to purchase an emergency generator and retrofit the station with a fire alarm.
  • 2006 — (2) T.I.C.’s (Thermal Imaging Camera’s), gear washer, (4) new mobile radios.
  • 2011 — New Brush Truck, Homeland Security Tow Vehicle.

Illinois Department of Natural Resource Grants
  • 1996 — $7,500 grant to purchase and equip Squad 1
  • 2003 — $12, 200 grant to purchase computer for training simulations, purchase gloves, hose/nozzles and a chain saw.
  • 2008 - $4,770 grant to help in the purchase of a pumper/slide in skid to place in the back of John Deere Gator.

EMS Grants
  • 1995 — Prudential "Helping Hearts" Grant for an automatic external defibrillator (AED)
  • 2001 — Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) grant to purchase AED's
  • 2002 — IDPH grant to purchase EMS equipment
  • 2003 — IDPH grant to purchase AEG's
  • 2009 — Adult Airway Management Trainer

Miscellaneous Grants
  • 1999 — $15,000 Illinois FIRST grant for thermal imaging camera
  • 2003 — $100,000 Illinois FIRST grant for fire station renovation
  • 2004 — U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Corporation grant for a John Deere Trailgator

Territory information

The South Wheatland Fire Protection District encompasses 16.3 square miles with an estimated population of 4,000 residents. The district covers unincorporated areas on the south, southeast and southwest edges of Decatur, in portions of South Wheatland, Decatur, Blue Mound and Harristown Townships within Macon County.

Mission Statement

The South Wheatland Fire Protection District values its members and their dedication to providing efficient and professional services to residents, friends, family and visitors to our district. We will to the best of our ability provide professional customer based service to the area we serve through the preservation of life and property and will work to prevent fires, accidents and other emergencies while maintaining the highest standards of professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness possible.