Harlem-Roscoe Firefighters have always devoted their time and expertise to train and become well versed in the different types of emergency rescues. Although the most common is the motor vehicle accident, there have been water, ice, trench, collapse, rope, farm, as well as animal rescues. The department is also part of the local Mutual Aid Box Alarm System 8 (MABAS 8) which allows local departments to combine resources as well as access to more tech-trained personnel from each fire department.


In 1960, the department had one boat and motor bought with proceeds from an Association Coon and Ham Dinner. The department currently has a 14 foot flat bottom boat with a 25hp Johnson engine housed at Station Two and an 18 foot heavy aluminum flat bottom boat with an Evinrude E-Tec high powered 75hp two-stroke engine with jack plate engine mount at Station One. The addition of a side scan sonar has helped tremendously with search and rescue. The department is also part of the Winnebago Water Rescue Team.


Firefighters are trained in ice rescue and several have gone on to advance certified trainings. The department has special equipment such as mustang cold water suits, ropes and ice gear and continues to upgrade the equipment as needed.


A technical rescue may include rope rescue, slope evacuation, confined space, trench rescue, excavation, and structural collapse. All require expensive equipment as well as advanced training. The department has a Freightliner truck 747 that is designed to carry enough equipment for specialty rescues; it also has a toilet as well as hot and cold water. It can be used for extended calls, bad weather, as well as technical and disaster-types rescues. The department is also part of the Stateline Rescue Team.


In the early days, they didn’t have the hydraulics of today, they used come-alongs, jacks, shoring, crow bars, and saws-alls, but the firefighters used what they had. In the late 1960s, the department had a “Ready Rescue group”. It was a trained group of firefighters from several local fire departments that would respond to disasters or major accidents. It was kind of the precursor to what we know today as MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System). The first Jaws of Life was purchased by the Firefighters Association in the late 1970s, opening up the use of the hydraulics that we rely on today. Today, our work horse vehicle for extrications is our Heavy Duty Rescue Squad 741, known as a toolbox on wheels. There are also extrication tools on the first out Engines and Squads.