In the early years in Oak Grove and Carlock the fire fighters used a bucket brigade. A barn fire was usually a lost cause.
In May 1924 fire destroyed three buildings in the heart of the Village of Carlock. These buildings housed the Farmers’ State Bank, the Town Auditorium, Miller’s Restaurant, the J.K. Esh General Store, and the Post Office. In June 1924 a second major fire in Carlock’s commercial district destroyed the Rupp Bakery and seriously damaged the Stutzman Garage.
The Bloomington Fire Department was called for both fires. The newly constructed “hard road” (Illinois Route 9) allowed the Bloomington firefighters to make the trip in about 20 minutes, but for one of the fires it took a full hour for the Bloomington department to receive official approval to begin its trip to Carlock in response to the call for help.
The two 1924 fires caused Carlock area people to begin to discuss the need for local fire protection. In 1926 two residents, W.S. Shelby and Jake Engel, took the lead in collecting enough to buy a $2,600 Model T firetruck. A volunteer fire department to serve Carlock and farmers within a seven-mile radius was born with the purchase of this first Carlock firetruck.