Peoria fire stations promote neighborhood pride

By Holly Eitenmiller For Chronicle Media

The Manual Academy Rams cheerleading squad pose before a Peoria Fire Dept. Station 4 engine, which features the station slogan “Southside Fighting 4’s” and a ram representing the school’s mascot. (Photo courtesy of Peoria Fire Dept.)

Lions and rhinos and rams, oh my! And that’s just the beginning of the Peoria Fire Department’s mission to create exclusive logos for each individual firehouse in the city. The goal is to develop identities for each station that represent the neighborhoods they serve.

Fire Station 10 Captain John Chibben said the department invested in a laptop with a drawing tablet at the beginning of the year, and also set up an art committee. He and other “amateur artists” within the fire department have since developed logos for three of Peoria’s firehouses.

Close to Glen Oak Zoo, Station 10 at 3316 N. Wisconsin Ave. chose a rhino, which also represents the term “Leatherhead”, from the time when firefighters wore leather helmets.
(Photo by Holly Eitenmiller/for Chronicle Media)

“The whole project started around eight months ago,” Chibben said. “There’s a lot of competitiveness between stations and it’s become popular again to have company logos and mottos. Back in the 1800s all the stations had their own.”

First in the series was Station 4 at 2711 SW Jefferson Ave. Because of its proximity to Manual Academy, artists employed the school’s mascot, a ram, along with its colors, orange and black. Their slogan, “Southside Fighting 4’s”.

Station 10 at 3316 N. Wisconsin Ave. followed with a rhino and the motto “East Bluff Leatherheads First Due at the Zoo.” The term “leatherheads” comes from the time when firefighters wore leather helmets, Chibben said. The rhino represents the nickname, as well as Glen Oak Zoo, which is in Station 10’s jurisdiction.

The Peoria High School Lion’s mascot was chosen to represent Peoria Fire Dept. Station 3, “The West Bluff Hilltoppers.” (Photo courtesy of Peoria Fire Dept.)

The first public school in the city, Peoria Central High School resides in the zone of Station 3. “The West Bluff Hilltoppers” features the high school mascot, a lion.

“I’m doing about 50 percent of the designs,” Chibben said. “Then there’s Dan Thorton who designed Station 4 and Matt Smith designed Rescue One’s logo, based on the cartoon character, Iron Man, because they use ‘irons’, the jaws of life.”

Some stations will align with Peoria history, such as Station 8 at 832 W. Hurlburt. It was in that area that the city’s first fire station, the Neptune Hose Company, was located. Battalions within Central Station 1 in downtown Peoria will likely represent the Phoenix Ladder Co. and the Young America Co., both of which also hail from the 1800s.

Peoria Fire Dept. Station 10 Captain John Chibben built a wall-mounted replica of the station’s rhinoceros mascot, which is on display in the firehouse bay. (Photo by Holly Eitenmiller/for Chronicle Media)

North Peoria stations will feature the Richwoods High School mascot, a knight, and the newest stations in the northernmost region of Peoria County are still mulling over slogans and mascots. Peoria native Charlie Johnson owner of CJ Signs on Adams Street printed and applied the designs.

“This is just a small token to show how proud we are of all of our neighborhoods,” Peoria Fire Chief Chuck Lauss said in an October press release. “The Peoria Fire Fighters have taken a lot of joy and pride in putting these together for our community.”





— Peoria fire stations promote neighborhood pride —