Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

The original firehouse in West Dundee may be demolished this summer, but its long history will live on in the memories of Kevin Rynders  who retired in 2008 as fire chief in Hoffman Estates. His father was a volunteer firefighter, as was his grandfather.

He remembers his father leaving work to go on calls. In the 1960s, the paramedic program and 911 did not exist. The hearse from the local funeral home doubled as an ambulance.

Fires were called in to the local bakery, funeral home, and Rynders Service Station, which all had fire phones, because someone was always there to answer. Whoever took the call set off a siren that alerted firefighters to report to the station at 98 Oregon Avenue. Each town had its own sound and firefighters had to listen carefully to figure out if it was for them. At the station, they picked up the fire phone, a type of party-line, and details of what was happening were provided.

The single-station fire department, founded in 1891, became a launching pad for fire chiefs. Bartlett Fire Chief Mike Falese said eight Illinois fire chiefs, including him, trained there. [East Dundee Fire Chief Steve Schmitendorf,  Lake Zurich Deputy Fire Chief John Kelly, West Dundee Fire Chief Randy Freise, Woodstock Fire Chief Ralph Webster, retired Mount Prospect Fire Chief Mike Figolah]

Larry McManaman, West Dundee’s fire chief from 1979 through 2004, attributes it to the training academy he launched years after having a near-fatal accident on a call and resolving that everyone would become certified firefighters. The academy opened after the village took over the fire department from the fire district, enabling McManaman to hire full-time firefighters and increase his part-time staff, many of whom worked for other fire departments on their days off.

Doug Hoyt, a battalion chief in Palatine, worked at Rynders Service Station while in high school and went on calls with Kevin Rynders. Frank Buhrmann retired in 2011 as West Dundee’s fire chief. Both of his brothers were volunteer on-call firefighters in East Dundee.

Chief Randy Freise spent 11 years in West Dundee and his deputy, Trevor Hermann, spent five years there.