JERRY PRYOR PHOTO
of the Webb City Public Library
Carterville Fire Department volunteers built 'The Beast,' answered in-town calls in exchange for city help to purchase equipment
These images were copied from slides, taken in 1977, perhaps for insurance purposes. The pumper truck was a 1960s GMC cab-over. (This design was used for many years and is hard to pinpoint the exact year.)
The fire truck was a 1969 or 1970 Ford.
Jerry Pryor donated the photo in front of the fire department, which he likely took in the early 1970s when “The Beast,” a 1944 Army vehicle was converted to fight grass fires. It is next to a 1930s fire truck. The $3,000 Beast was built and financed by volunteer firemen at no cost to the city. It was equipped with a 1,200 gallon water tank capable of running three or more fire hoses and other necessary equipment for a self-supported fire unit.
The Carterville volunteer fire department houses a mixture of both old and new. The old is apparent in a 1944 vintage hook and ladder truck; the new in a 12-volunteer force and a station full of modern equipment.
The department answers an average of five calls a month, accorded to Fire Chief George Fillpot, although sometimes as many as three months may pass between calls. Most of these calls are to combat rural grass fires or to assist other area departments.
The station houses four operating trucks. Three are owned by the department, the other by the city for in-town use only. One, nicknamed “The Beast,” is a four-wheel-drive Army vehicle used mainly for grass fires. The 1944 model was purchased from the city for $1, and is being renovated by volunteer members.
Volunteers are recruited from the Carterville area. Applicants are approved by the entire department and given a 30-day probation period before confirmation as full members. Due to limited equipment, the department keeps a ceiling of 15 members. Most members are men under 40 years, but several women and older men are inactively involved.
The department charges a flat fee of $50 for a grass fire and $100 for a structure fire outside the city limits regardless of the time and machinery used. In-city services are provided in exchange for appropriations for fuel and upkeep on equipment. Recently, the city allocated about $2,000 for new fire hose, coats, hats and boots for the station.
When a fire is reported to the station, Fillpot triggers a siren on the roof of the firehouse. Volunteers then report to the station and follow the truck to the fire. Usually all members of the department are present after each alarm.
The Joplin Globe, May 31, 1976.