Those eager to attend the Jeffco Fire Engine Rally will not be disappointed this year.
The 28th annual rally, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 24, at Herculaneum City Park, 776 Joachim Ave., will be much like those seen in years past, 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 figure it out,” Haggard said. “We have meetings and nobody ever comes up with anything. But I think people are happy with what we do, so we don’t change much.”
The rally, the only one of its kind in the St. Louis area, kicks off as always with a parade of fire trucks and other emergency vehicles departing at 9:00 AM from St. Pius X High School, 1030 St. Pius Drive, in Crystal City and head north on Hwy. 61-67 to the park grounds.
The grand marshal of the parade will be Jeff Broombaugh, the former head of the Rock Community Fire Protection District.
A lifelong resident of the county, Broombaugh retired in June 2022 after a 39-year career with Rock Fire.
“He was there for a number of years,” Haggard said. “During his tenure, he probably held every position in the department, from firefighter to chief.”
Broombaugh is now the deputy chief of officer development for the De Soto rural fire protection district.
James Lady, 11, a sixth-grader at Fort Zumwalt South Middle School, will represent the Midwest Burn Camp and the Burns Recovered Support Group as a junior grand marshal.
James was badly burned in an accident when he was 2 years old while on a camping trip.
Once the parade reaches the park, at approximately 10 a.m., the rally, which concludes around 3 p.m., will begin with the presentation of colors by the Jefferson County Firefighters Color Guard. Shannon Jackson Coaley of Hillsboro will then sing the national anthem, followed by a memorial ceremony led by chaplains from the county fire department.
The service will honor the following 18 people involved in local firefighting efforts who have died since the last rally:
■ Michael Allen of the 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 De Soto Rural Fire Protection District.
■ John Michael Richardson of the Festus Fire Department and 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).
“The people who come together 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.
“To celebrate the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we’re also ringing three times, then four times, then three more times for the 343 firefighters who died answering the World Trade Center,” he said.
The ceremony will be followed by a sprinkler suppression demonstration at approximately 11:30 AM. Another demonstration called ‘The evolution of the fire service’ is scheduled for 1:30 pm
“They bring an old pump truck fire truck from the 1980s and a new one and show the differences,” Haggard said. “The old one would work with a series of levers, and the new one would pump water using computers. It’s quite impressive to watch.”
The rally will, as usual, be youth-friendly, with a bouncy castle and a 20-foot inflatable slide, a catapult game, a scavenger hunt for Smokey Bear and Sparky items (with possible visits from both), games, face painting and a balloon artist .
“Of course there are things that are aimed at adults, but we always want to get the kids involved,” Haggard said.
A children’s firefighter challenge will put participants to the test 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 its fire safety house, where children will learn how to escape a house fire.
In addition, children and adults get the chance to get a closer look at fire trucks and EMS vehicles.
The arrival of helicopters is always a highlight, Haggard said, with rescue helicopters from ARCH Air Medical and Air Evac Lifeteam scheduled to arrive around 11 a.m.
An award ceremony for the vehicles of the rally will start around 2:45 PM
A Dalmatian show will be recorded.
The Jefferson County Health Department will give away bicycle helmets to children while supplies last, and the
The Masonic Lodges De Soto, Shekinah and Joachim will conduct a child identification program.
As usual, vendors will sell various fire-related items, and the organizing committee will sell official T-shirts, as well as T-shirts from past rallies.
Vendors will also sell food and drinks.
Entrance and parking are free. No alcohol is allowed on site.
Call Haggard at 314-852-4964 for information.