The Melrose Park Fire Department was established on July 11th, 1895 as a volunteer fire department. Our present department has deep roots in the community and strong connections to the founding ten-man crew that responded with a two-wheeled, horse-drawn tank and hand-pumped hose cart.
In 1913, the department purchased its first motorized vehicle. In1932, Anthony Prignano was appointed Melrose Park’s first fire chief. Chief Prignano served for 35 years and guided the department’s growth from a small, but dedicated, volunteer brigade to a department staffed by equally dedicated, full-time firefighters.
The original fire station was located at 706 North 18th Avenue, where it remained until 1994 when the building was demolished in order to accommodate the expansion of Melrose Park School.
In 1958, Station 2 was opened at 15th and Bloomingdale Avenues as part of the department’s ongoing efforts to provide protection to the expanding industrial park and new residential subdivisions along the North Avenue corridor. Station 2 also housed the fire department’s administrative offices until 1974 when Station 3 was opened at 3601 West Lake Street. Station 2 remains at its original location but underwent an expansion and renovation in 2003.
Station 3 (3601 West Lake Street) houses the administrative offices of the Fire Chief and Assistant Fire Chief as well as the Fire Prevention Bureau and complete training facilities. In addition, the apparatus bay of Station 3 houses the Bronto Skylift aerial ladder that was put into service in 2004. As of 2004 no other fire department in this area had access to firefighting apparatus of this caliber. As such, the commissioning of this state-of-the-art vehicle represents the continuation of Melrose Park’s pioneering efforts in firefighting.
On June 13, 1967 Anthony Zito became Melrose Park’s second fire chief. Chief Zito served in this capacity until his retirement in April 1972. On April 1, 1972, Fire Captain Alfred Mueller was sworn in as fire chief.
Chief Mueller oversaw the building and opening of Station 3 in 1974. This third station at 36th Avenue and Lake Street enhanced Melrose Park’s ability to offer prompt and effective fire and rescue services to residents and businesses on the village’s west side. The addition of Station 3 also allowed the Village of Melrose Park to realize its goal of increasing its staff of full-time firefighters by one-third.
Upon Chief Mueller’s retirement in 1985, Fire Captain John Anderson (the department’s first training officer) was sworn in as fire chief.
In 1987, Fire Captain Anthony “Rusty” Maggio, Sr. became fire chief and served the department for another ten years until his retirement.
In 1997, Fire Captain James Cernauske was sworn in as fire chief and served until his retirement in 2005.
Melrose Park’s current fire chief, Richard A. Beltrame, was sworn in as a firefighter/ EMT in 1981. Chief Beltrame rose through the ranks of the Melrose Park Fire Department; serving as Lieutenant, Captain and Assistant Chief before assuming his role as fire chief.