Fruitland Area Fire Protection District welcomes community to 45th anniversary celebration

FRUITLAND, Mo. (KBSI) – One fire engine, two gas tankers that were converted into water haulers, and a volunteer crew: Those were the humble beginnings of the Fruitland Area Fire Department.

Now, 45 years later, the department has three stations, several engines, and a full-time crew. 

Fire Chief Rob Francis said the department’s 45th anniversary celebration is in fact a celebration of the people it serves.

“We’re here for the people,” he said. “I tell the guys, when the alarms go, we’re here to give 100 percent to the people we serve. And it’s also a thank you to them for making it possible for us to do what we do. I’ve had people say, ‘Hey, can I look at your fire truck?’ I tell them, ‘This is your fire truck. You just give me the privilege of taking care of it and responding to your emergencies.” 

Captain Dennis Koeberl has had a front row seat for all of the evolution the department has undergone. He has been with the department since the beginning in 1977, and he has no plans of retiring anytime soon. 

“I’m not planning on quitting anytime soon,” he said. “The only time I’m planning on quitting is if I can’t go anymore, and I plan on that being a long time yet.” 

And despite 33 years in the fire service himself, Francis does not foresee a time in the near future when he is not serving his community. 

“I’ve always wanted to help people,” he said. “I’ve always felt better helping my community and helping my fellow man than I did sitting behind a desk or turning a wrench. This is what I want to do the rest of my life.” 

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