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The St. Louis community formed a volunteer fire department in 1822 and for thirty years, fires in the city were fought by volunteers. It was not until 1857, almost ten years after a devastating fire swept through the city destroying many blocks around the riverfront, that a paid fire department was established. Early fire trucks were horse-drawn; not until well into the twentieth century were fire engines motorized. The St. Louis Fire Department website has more information on the its history.

Each community in St. Louis County established its own fire department as more homes were built and the population increased. The histories of these fire departments will need to be researched separately from the St. Louis City Department.

Today’s St. Louis City Fire Department Headquarters is at 1421 N. Jefferson, St. Louis, MO 63106. Phone: 314-533-3406. The department does have a museum and archives.

The City of St. Louis’s original police force, begun in 1808, consisted of four unpaid men. Others were expected to contribute their services on a rotating basis or were fined if they did not. By 1818, the force had grown to six, including one on night duty. From that unprepossessing beginning, the City of St. Louis’s police department has grown and changed into the modern department we know today, with more than 1400 officers. The police department is proud of its history and has a library and archives. See the St. Louis Police Department website for more information on their history.

Many individual communities in St. Louis County have their own police departments. There is also a St. Louis County Police Department that was begun in 1955. Each department maintains its own separate records. You can learn more about the history of the St. Louis County Police Department at their website.

 

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