Familiar fare at this year’s Fire Engine Rally | Local events

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Those who enjoy attending the Jeffco Fire Engine Rally will not be disappointed with this year’s event.

The 28th annual rally, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 24, at Herculaneum City Park, 776 Joachim Ave., will look much like those held over the past few years, said Bill Haggard, president of the Jefferson County Firefighters Association and chairman of the rally organizing committee.

“Every year I try to think of different things to do, but I can’t really find any,” Haggard said. “We have meetings, and no one else ever comes up with anything either. But I think people are happy with what we’re doing, so we’re not changing a lot.

The rally, the only one of its kind in the St. Louis area, will begin as always with a parade of fire trucks and other emergency vehicles taking off at 9 a.m. from St. Pius X High School, 1030 St. Pius Drive, in Crystal City, and proceed north on Hwy. 61-67 at the park.

The Parade Grand Marshal will be Jeff Broombaugh, the former Rock Community Fire Protection District Chief.

Broombaugh, a lifelong county resident, retired after a 39-year career with Rock Fire in June 2022.

“He was there for several years,” Haggard said. “During his tenure, he probably held every position in the department, from firefighter to chief.”

Broombaugh is now the assistant chief in charge of officer development for the De Soto Rural Fire Protection District.

James Lady, 11, a sixth-grade student at Fort Zumwalt South Middle School, will represent the Midwest Burn Camp and Burns Recovered Support Group as the junior grand marshal.

James was badly burned in an accident aged 2 while on a camping trip.

Once the parade reaches the park, around 10 a.m., the parade, which ends around 3 p.m., will open with the presentation of the colors by the Jefferson County Firefighters Color Guard. Next, Shannon Jackson Coaley of Hillsboro will sing the national anthem, followed by a memorial service led by the county’s fire department chaplains.

The service will honor the following 18 people associated with local firefighting efforts who have died since the last rally:

■ Michael Allen of Rock Community Fire Protection District and Rock Township Ambulance District.

■ John W. Baynes of the Dunklin Fire Protection District.

■ Ronald Ray Beckett of the Mapaville Fire Protection District.

■ Glenn “Doc” Brod and John B. Wood of the De Soto Fire Department.

■ Kevin L. Cremer and Brian Todd Hill of the Festus Fire Department.

■ Herschel A. Dugan and Alan Holt of the Herculaneum Fire Department.

■ John Hutson and Marvin Shaffrey of the Cedar Hill Fire Protection District.

■ Lawrence “Larry” Leonard of the Goldman Fire Protection District.

■ Rose Marie Nemeth of the Big River Ambulance District.

■ Donald L. Null of the De Soto Rural Fire Protection District.

■ John Michael Richardson of the Festus Fire Department and the Jefferson R-7 Fire Protection District.

■ Michael Roth and Robert F. Uhlinger Jr. of the Rock Community Fire Protection District.

■ Emil Ruoff of the Saline Valley Fire Protection District (formerly the Shady Valley Fire Protection District).

“People who gather for the ceremony take it really seriously,” Haggard said. “We read the person’s name and the date they died and we ring a bell for each one.

“To celebrate the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we also rang the bell three times, then four times, then three more times for the 343 firefighters who died in response to the World Trade Center,” he said.

The ceremony will be followed at around 11:30 a.m. by a sprinkler fire extinguishing demonstration. Another demonstration titled “The Evolution of the Fire Service” is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

“They’ll bring an old pumper fire truck from the 1980s and a new one and show the differences,” Haggard said. “The old one worked with a series of levers, and the new one pumps water using computers. It’s quite impressive to watch.

The rally, as usual, will be aimed at youngsters, with a bouncy house and 20ft inflatable slide, slingshot game, scavenger hunt for Smokey Bear and Sparky items (with tours possible by both ), games, face paints and a balloon artist.

“Obviously there are things that are aimed at adults, but we always want to get the kids involved,” Haggard said.

A firefighter challenge for kids will test participants in a number of activities, including crawling through a culvert pipe, entering through a window and rescuing a doll.

The Rock Community Fire Protection District will bring their fire safety house, where children will learn how to escape a house fire.

Plus, kids and adults alike will get the chance to get a close-up view of fire trucks and EMS vehicles.

The arrival of helicopters is always a highlight, Haggard said, with air rescue helicopters from ARCH Air Medical and Air Evac Lifeteam expected to arrive around 11 a.m.

A prize-giving ceremony for the rally vehicles will begin around 2.45 p.m.

A Dalmatian show will be included.

The Jefferson County Health Department will donate bicycle helmets to children while supplies last, and the

De Soto, Shekinah and Joachim Masonic Lodges will run a child identification program.

As usual, vendors will be selling various firefighter-related items, and the organizing committee will be selling official t-shirts as well as t-shirts from past rallies.

Vendors will also sell food and drink.

Admission and parking are free. Alcohol will be prohibited on the field.

For more information, call Haggard at 314-852-4964.

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