The City of Olathe was incorporated in 1857 and structure fires were no stranger to the growing town in its first decade of existence. After losing several buildings on the town square to fires, the city council passed an ordinance that established the Olathe Hook & Ladder Company - Olathe's first official fire company.
The ordinance, recorded in 1871, allocated $3,000 for the purchase of a chemical fire engine and a hook-and-ladder truck. The vehicles' design allowed them to be pulled by firefighters for short hauls or they could be horse-drawn when longer distances needed to be traveled. The ordinance also included the digging of four strategically located cisterns near the town square for fire suppression needs.
Our reorganization, in 1883, led to the fire chief drawing a salary of $3.50 per day, while the volunteer firefighters earned $1.00 per fire call. If the fire chief ordered civilians to help fight a fire they were paid $1.00. If they refused to help they were fined $10.00. We continued to operate with a paid chief and volunteer firefighters until 1950, when four firefighters were hired full-time with the support of the volunteers.
Since 1871, three Olathe firefighters have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. They are:
History article: 20th Century Fires Part I.