An Alliance Forged in the Fire


West Suburban Fire District

Bob Dylan once sang, “Times they are A-Changin”…, indeed they are!

Turns out this applies to Fire Departments too.

In 2023 Loretto and Hamel Fire Departments will celebrate their 75th and 90th anniversaries, respectively. To say there is a long history of tradition in the individual departments would be an understatement! The firefighters’ dedication to their communities, commitment to training, and the pride of serving stands as tall as the steeples of the churches that are also the centerpieces of their villages.

Loretto and Hamel Fire Departments cover emergencies of every kind including medical calls. With the increase of housing developments, aging populations, busy lives, and highways has resulted in about a 35% increase in fire calls over the last 10 years, according to Loretto Fire Chief Jeff Leuer. Firefighter recruitment and staffing has also been a challenge across the state so having enough staff to cover these calls, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, has been a challenge. Like any other business there are also the rising costs of training, facilities, and equipment.

According to chief Leuer, the future of fire service is consolidation of resources through the establishment of Fire Districts. It is with this in mind that the departments’ Chiefs and Board of Directors have worked tirelessly over the last several years to create. As of July 1st, 2023, residents of Hamel, Medina Loretto, Corcoran will be supported by The West Suburban Fire District. Together, bigger and better than ever!

Retired Hamel Firefighter, Shorty Dorweiler, who had 50 years of service on the Hamel Fire Department, said that the future of the West Suburban Fire District is very bright, under the leadership of Chief Leuer and the Board of Directors of 9 members from both Hamel and Loretto Fire Departments.

Chief Leuer states other benefits of merging the departments will be an increase in advanced trainings, cost efficiencies with shared equipment and facilities as well as more opportunities to provide more services to the community events such as: Hamel Rodeo, Corcoran City Days and Loretto Fun Fest. Most importantly, there will be an increased number of fire fighters available 24/7 to respond to emergencies.

The founding members of each community fire department, whose pictures cover the walls of the interior of each department, will be proud to know that not only will their legacy live on through the next generations, but the history of the community fire departments will also be maintained in the naming of the stations: Station 1- Loretto Fire Department, Station 2- Hamel Fire Station.

Chief Leuer is thankful for the support they have received from the local businesses through the years, and they will continue to keep all their business local.

One of the best things about living in a small community is that seeing neighbors leaning over the fence to help their neighbors is commonplace. It’s great to see that this rule applies to the management of Loretto and Hamel Fire Department too!

Yes, Bob, “Times They Are A-Changin”, but I think we can all rest easy knowing that if trouble comes our way, we are in great hands with the West Suburban Fire District.