Cary celebrates 100 years of fighting fires

CARY – The Cary Fire Protection District this year hopes to honor the past and mark changes in fire service as it celebrates its centennial.

Events include a parade with about 100 pieces of firefighting apparatus, with many pieces from neighboring communities.

The district hopes to have newer pieces of equipment and antiques, such as a restored 1928 American LaFrance.

The district plans to hold the parade June 15. The parade still needs formal approval from the Cary Village Board.

After the parade, a fire apparatus expo is scheduled for the parking lot of Cary-Grove High School. It will show people changes in firefighting apparatus through the years.

Board President Corky Carlson said changes in fire service include having many firefighters serving as paramedics or EMTs. Technology and safety equipment to fight fires also have improved, such as the advent of masks.

The district plans to hang 20 banners commemorating the 100th anniversary around the downtown area during the summer. A refurbished, large bronze bell will be placed over its electronic sign at headquarters.

“It’s a milestone,” Carlson said. “It’s quite a thing to be in operation for 100 years. It’s a big deal.”

A dance, which used to be a regular fundraiser for the district from the mid-1950s until the ’70s, is scheduled Sept. 14, Carlson said.

District personnel have built a bronze statue at its headquarters to honor past Cary firefighters, including former Fire Chief Lester Macko, who died in 2012.

Macko had been with the department for 37 years, 25 of them as chief, before retiring in 2000. He was the father of current Fire Chief Jeff Macko.

To accommodate the size of the department, the district this year plans to carry out a $600,000 expansion of its main station to double the size of its classroom, among other things.

The district, which has more than 70 employees, covers 18 square miles for the roughly 35,000 residents in Cary, Oakwood Hills, Trout Valley and the surrounding areas.

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