Prior to 1880 the Atchison Fire Department was composed entirely of volunteer fireman. In 1871 an ordinance was passed authorizing the expenditure of $1,000.00 to buy a hook and ladder and other equipment. The Pioneer Hook & Ladder Company No. 1 was organized with headquarters in the old Pioneer Building on the corner of Fourth and Kansas Avenue.

In 1875 Ingalls Fire Company No. 1 was organized. Ingalls shared quarters with the Aetna Engine and Hose Company at the old fire house on North Sixth Street. In 1880, under Mayor John C. Tomlinson, the first paid fire department was organized by S.H. Kelsey who became chief and later served as mayor of the city.

The first fire apparatus were pulled by hand and by livery stable horses when available. Pumping was also mostly by hand and the water was pumped from cisterns located at Third and Commercial, Fifth and Commercial and on Sixth Street near the old fire station. The first steam pumper, a Silsby, was purchased about 1875 and the first team of horses owned by the department was purchased in 1880.

The Atchison Water Works company started business in 1880 and fire hydrants were installed so that it was no longer necessary to depend on the cisterns. In 1898 a new Babcock combination chemical and hose wagon and a 65 foot aerial truck were purchased. The steam pumper purchased in 1900 was a Metropolitan Steamer and was considered the last word in modern fire fighting apparatus. In 1903 the department owned two steamers, one hose and chemical wagon, one aerial truck, one hose reel and seven head of horses.

In 1909, under Mayor G.W. Allaman, a horse and buggy was purchased for the chief and inspectors. The fire station at 13th and Commercial was built in 1912 under Mayor C.D. Walker’s administration. The first gasoline motor equipment was purchased in 1911 and put in service in 1912. This consisted of a new hose and chemical truck and a Webb hose and pumper truck.

Since the development of the paid fire department in Atchison there have been twelve fire chiefs. We honor them for their service and leadership.

S.H. Kelsey

1880 thru 1883

W.C. Barnes

1883 thru 1889

John Compton

1889 thru 1924

Herbert N. Sowers

1924 thru 1937

Joseph E. Dolecek

1937 thru 1947

Harley Yocum

1947 thru 1959

Jake Anslinger

1959 thru 1964

Richard E. Ellis

1964 thru 1970

Ed Maycroft

1971 thru 1979

Randy Houchen

1979 thru 1981

Michael E. McDermed

1981 thru 2016

Theodore L. Graf

2016