In response to a call by the citizens, Theresa Fire Co. No. 1 was organized in Lehner's Hall on November 22, 1895 with 42 members under Chief Fred Jung. The first equipment consisted of a 12-man hand pumper and hose cart bought from Waupun. Another hose cart and a four-wheel hook and ladder were added a few years later, all hand-drawn. The firehouse was a rented brick building on the north side of Rock River Street near Church Street. Water was generally taken from the river, although several small cisterns were built.
In 1901, a fire at Bandlow's Brewery was driven through the business district by a strong southeast wind destroying six buildings, including the fire house, before aid from surrounding villages brought it under control.
To improve rural protection, the first motorized fire Engine was purchased in 1924 by contributions from rural property owners and village funds. This international truck with Boyer equipment carried four 30-gallon chemical tanks, two ¾ inch hose lines, etc. An electric siren was installed on the firehouse roof at this time.
In 1934, the village purchased a 350 gpm Pirsch Centrifugal pumper on a Dodge chassis carrying 1,200 feet of 2 ½ inch hose, a 150 gallon booster tank and booster hose. Later, a used 1926 Pirsch Rotary pumper replaced the Minneapolis pumper and completely motorized the department. In 1951, the township purchased an International chassis with a Seagrave 600 gpm pump, 500 gallon water tank, two booster hoses, 500 feet of 1 ½ -inch hose and 400 feet of 2 ½ -inch hose which was manned by the company for rural and local fires.
The chemical truck was then converted to a 100 gallon water tanker and the Reo pump rebuilt on a 1941 Chevrolet chassis. Four closed tanks for hauling water with private trucks were furnished by the township in 1953. The Village of Theresa completed a water system in 1955 including a 55,000 gallon tower, a 400 gpm well pump and hydrants covering all built up areas. To retire the obsolete 300 gallon tanker, the township purchased a new Ford 1,000 gallon tanker complete with portable pump.
ln 1963, a new 40x70 foot firehouse was built by the village. A 1968 Ford 850 tilt cab with 750 gpm pump was purchased by the village and later that same year, a second well was added to the water system testing out at 620 gpm.
In 1973 the township purchased a GMC 750 gpm pumper replacing the 1951 IHC and in 1974 a Ford medium duty rescue vehicle was purchased by the fire department with the help of Civil Defense matching funds.
In 1979, the department purchased a used IHC 4-wheel drive pickup which was built up for grass fires. In 1980,the township added a 2,400 gallon tanker to replace the 1955 1,000 gallon tanker and in 1984, a 4,000 gallon tanker was added by the township for improved rural capability. In March of 1988, the department took delivery of a 1987 Ford 4x4 rapid response vehicle purchased with fund-raiser monies and retired the IHC pickup.
In June of that same year, the department undertook yet another fund-raiser to purchase a Hurst "Jaws of Life" tool. The goal was met in November just months later, and the department took delivery of the Jaws tool and complete accessories which is carried on the 1987 Ford for use in eastern Dodge County.
In July of 1989, a joint effort by the township and Village of Theresa was undertaken and construction of a new 80x110 foot firehouse was begun on the northeast edge of the village. The department moved into the new quarters in November of 1989. The facility includes a meeting room, kitchen, office and radio room, shower rooms, hose tower and a 80x90 foot garage area. In October of 1992, the GTE Telephone Company donated a 1987 Dodge van to the department which is used to transport our portable pumps to a water point in rural areas. In March of 1996, a 1995 Custom Fire Apparatus 1750 gpm pumper on a Peterbuilt chassis was put into service retiring the 1973 GMC pumper.
In early 1999, the department received an anonymous private donation of an ISG thermal imaging camera. In August of 1999, the Town of Theresa purchased a 1994 Mack chassis and placed a new 2,500 gallon tank on it with a three-way Newton dump valve to replace the 1979 Chevrolet 2,400 gallon tanker. After three years of research, through a joint effort of the township, village and fire commission, a 2001 Peterbuilt 330 chassis and Marion 20 foot rescue body were placed in service in April of 2001.
In 2002, the fire department was issued a Forest Fire Protection grant by the Department of Natural Resources in the amount of $9,968 which was used to outfit all members in wild land fire fighting gear including pants, coats, helmets and goggles as well as 100 gallons of foam. In 2003, the department received a FEMA grant in the amount of $83,372 which the department matched ten percent and was used to equip all members with new structural turnout coats and pants, acquired a TNT set of rescue tools and AV equipment for use in training, AED, rescue saw and a four gas monitor.
In 2005, the kind folks sponsoring the Lomira Area Men's Fundraiser event each year raised $37,117 and presented it to the Theresa Fire Department and Ambulance Service. With that unexpected money, the fire department was able to purchase a Polaris 6x6 ATV set up for wild land fire suppression and offroad rescues for snowmobile, farm, ATV and other accidents not accessible by roads. Part of the grass fire pump and skid was funded with a DNR grant as well. These monies allowed the department to purchase this apparatus several years ahead of the anticipated service date.
Construction of a 30-foot splashboard/training tower began in fall of 2006 with completion in spring of 2007. The cost was held to under $10,000 thanks to generous donations of $2,000 by Luedtke Lumber, Inc. of Lomira and $ 1,000 by Michels Corporation of Brownsville. ln June 2006, the membership voted to refurbish our 1987 Ford 4x4 pickup truck for grass fires outfitted with a Contree pump and skid unit saving over $30,000 compared to a new truck and skid. All mechanical and fabrication work was done by department members and the project was funded with donations and fundraiser monies.
ln 2007, the department was very fortunate to receive a firefighter's assistance grant from FEMA in the amount of $195,244 with the department having to match $10,276. This grant is for new turnout gear 20 SCBA's and all new fully interoperable radios for all vehicles and 25 walkie-talkies. With the updated radios, the department can talk to any local, county, state or federal agency during a multi-jurisdictional incident.
ln 2008, the department purchased a 2002 Ford Excursion to replace the 1987 Dodge van to transport manpower and pull the portable pump and ATV trailers. A second thermal imaging camera was added through a generous donation by a Village of Theresa family. After several years of research, specifications were developed for a new engine to replace the 1968 Ford 750 gpm engine. ln fall of 2008, authorization was given by the township and Village of Theresa to order a 2009 Custom Fire Apparatus enclosed cab with top-mount pump controls and a 1,750 gpm pump on a Peterbilt Model 367 chassis. The engine features a 1,000-gallon booster tank, 20-gallon class A foam tank, 140 CFM Waterous CAFS system, 15 kWh hydraulic generator and a Will-Burt 6,000-watt Nightscan telescoping light tower. This engine was designed to be a twin to the 1995 Custom Fire Apparatus 1,750 gpm engine.
Apart from firefighting, the company owns about eight acres of land at the west village limits on which trees planted 75 years ago now form a pleasant park. Available to the public, it provides two baseball fields and shelters for use by area organizations.