Fox Lake celebrated its history of volunteer firefighters with a new memorial dedicated at the department's original fire station Sunday afternoon.
More than 100 community members came to recognize 105-year history of the Fox Lake Fire Protection District and honor the memory of 68 former firefighters and volunteers who have passed away with two statues unveiled Sunday.
The original bell from the first fire station in Fox Lake in the early 1900s is part of the memorial, along with a statue of a firefighter on bended knee saying a prayer. The memorial also lists the names and years for firefighters who have passed away.
"It is quite a tribute to all those who have set forth the great tradition of the Fox Lake Fire Department," said Fred Loffredo, Fox Lake Fire Protection District board member. "It's a lot more than just having good equipment, we have great personnel."
Fox Lake Fire Protection District Chief Ron Hoehne read the 68 names of those who have died as another firefighter rang the historic bell once for each name read.
The memorial is the culmination of a two-year project, funded entirely by private fundraising, said Fox Lake Volunteer Fire Department President Tom Muehlfelder
The memorial is outside what is now a bingo hall, but was once an original Fox Lake fire station. Families of former or current firefighters and volunteers can buy engraved bricks near the memorial, Hoehne said.
The Fox Lake Fire Protection District's employees and volunteers serve Fox Lake, Round Lake, McHenry, Ingleside, Lakemoor, Spring Grove and Volo as well as Grant, Burton and Antioch townships. The Fox Lake Fire Protection District was originally all volunteers, but now has more than 60 full or part-time employees, in addition to a group of volunteers.
Mayor Donny Schmit thanked the fire department and the volunteers for their help with events in recent years, such as a wind event in 2010 that kept some without power for a week, or recent flooding when volunteers were out filling and delivering sandbags to residents in need.
"Their legacy lives on," Schmit said. "I'm proud to say I live in Fox Lake because of them."