Fire Chief Oscar Presley Jr.

1982 - 2007

Chief Oscar Presley joined the department on January10, 1966. He served for 42 years and was Chief for 25 of those years. Chief Presley said, “I was asked by Captain John Weldon if I would stand by the day of Chief Howard Roger’s funeral and two weeks later they swore me in as a volunteer.” On December 27, 1982 he became the department’s seventh Fire Chief. On December 1, 1996, he became the first full time paid Fire Chief. He owned barbershops in Roscoe and Rockton and was a barber for thirty-five years. He also served as the Roscoe Township Road Commissioner for ten years and was a Lion’s Club member. He was a founding member of the E-911 Board and an active member in the Winnebago Fire Chief’s Association as well as Past President of that organization. Chief Presley’s son, John Presley, followed in his father’s footsteps and joined his father on the department.

Chief Presley was the first Chief to have a command car after one was donated to him. He ran the department like a business and drew up organizational plans, established rules and created job descriptions. He worked hard to get visible addresses on homes and businesses. He was well known for his projects.

Chief Presley pioneered the volunteer paramedic program in 1979 as a firefighter and served as a paramedic for twenty years. He also spearheaded the fundraising for the 1973 rescue squad and then for the purchase of the first trauma unit. Chief Presley was instrumental with staffing of two paramedics twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. He oversaw the move and construction of Station One to its current location as well as later additions to both Stations One and Two. He was instrumental in hiring a full-time secretary. He acquired a donation of land and oversaw the building of Station Three. Chief Presley’s dream of a department training facility was also achieved and built behind Station Three. It was dedicated as the “Oscar L. Presley Jr. Training Facility” in 2004.

Chief Presley always had a camera in his pocket. He felt everything the firefighters did was history and documented it. He added a volunteer photographer to the department. A recorded interview with Chief Presley is archived at the North Suburban Library in Roscoe.

Chief Presley had a day dedicated to him by the Village of Roscoe, a tree planted in Leland Park in his honor, and Elm Street in Roscoe was re-named to Presley Place. He received the Paramedic of the Year for 1980, the Meritorious Service Award in 1999 and in 2003, and the State VFW Outstanding Firefighter Award. He retired on December 31, 2007 and on October 21, 2008 he was awarded his highest honor when the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association awarded him the Fire Chief Emeritus Award.

Chief Presley had built the fire department to 30 pieces of fire apparatus and 3 fire stations. Chief Presley believed, “Nearly anything is possible if you set your mind to it.”