Skip to Main Content

University Library


History of the U.S. Fire Service: IFSI Home

This guide provides resources for researching the history and traditions of the U.S. fire service.

IFSI Library Lending Policies

Local Lending (Illinois Residents Only)

  • The checkout period is 4 weeks.
  • Extensions are considered individually.
  • Pick up requested materials at the library circulation desk.
  • Bring your photo ID to set up a lending account.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

  • The checkout period is 6 weeks.
  • IFSI can send materials directly to your local public library through Interlibrary Loan.
  • You must have a public library card.
  • It may take up to two weeks for items to arrive.

Search Our Catalog Here

Journal Articles

Access to magazines and journals is available to Illinois firefighters, fire departments, and other patrons at no charge.  Photocopied articles from periodicals can be delivered to patrons via password-protected Internet access or interlibrary loan.

The library’s fire and emergency periodicals include

  • Fire Engineering
  • Fire Chief
  • Firehouse
  • EMS Magazine
  • Fire & Arson Investigator
  • Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment
  • Fire Findings
  • Fire Magazine
  • FireRescue
  • Industrial Fire World
  • International Journal of Emergency Mental Health
  • NFPA Journal and
  • WNYF: With New York Firefighters

Other current periodicals available at the library include

  • Counterterrorism
  • Evidence Technology Magazine
  • Homeland Security Today
  • Occupational Health and Safety Magazine
  • Sprinkler Age and 
  • Training

Guide Introduction

The resources listed in this guide are useful for those looking for information regarding the history and traditions of the fire service in the United States, information on the histories of specific fire departments, and IFSI history. The guide is specifically targeted for those in the fire service and first responders, but can also be useful for anyone who wants to research and learn more about the origins and history of the fire service.

Browse topic-specific tabs for books in our catalog, free web resources, and other information relevant to Fire Service History.

Use this IFSI Home tab to find more information about the IFSI library and requesting materials.


This guide provides useful search tips as well as information regarding different sources. If you have questions or trouble using any of the resources listed, please contact the IFSI library at or by calling 217-333-8925. We appreciate your feedback so we can provide information that best fits the needs of our users.

Popular Fire History Subject Headings

Using popular subject headings is an efficient way of finding exploring IFSI resources and finding what you need. Using the library's Virtual Bookshelf, users can search Fire Service History headings (below) and view related physical and digital items in our catalog.

Heading results will include an item's title and author as well as any applicable copyright and URL information. Clicking on a record title will provide more information about a particular item, including further subject description, format, and availability.

Using IFSI

Illinois Fire Service Institute Library

 Accessing IFSI Library Materials

The IFSI Library houses more than 65,000 items, including books, periodicals, manuals, codes and standards, DVDs, CDs, e-resources, audiobooks and other fire emergency resources. Users can request materials in-person, via telephone or email, or through the Online Public Access Catalog at the library website.

 Searching the Library’s Collection

Browse by popular subject using the Virtual Bookshelf, which is linked from the IFSI Library’s homepage.

  • Click on a hyperlinked subject term to retrieve a list of IFSI Library materials on that subject.
  • From the list of results, click on the title of an item to retrieve a Record Details window containing additional information about that item, such as subject, format, publication year, and availability for interlibrary loan.
  • Click on the book icon next to an item to add that item to your Request Bin, which is accessible in the upper left hand corner of the webpage.
  • Click on the Checkout button in the Request Bin to request that item.

Search for a specific item, author, subject or format using the IFSI Library’s Online Public Access Catalog.

  • Search for materials by title, subject or author. You may limit your search to one or more formats (i.e. Book, Article, DVD, etc.).
  • Search for a specific SUBJECT by accessing the FireTalk thesaurus to find recommended search terms. Copy the recommended term(s) you find in FireTalk into the Subjects field.
  • Search the ANY KEYWORD field when you have incomplete title or author information or when you do not know the recommended subject search terms.  The Any Keyword field searches for words anywhere in the catalog record.
  • To narrow your search parameters, combine search terms from among multiple fields. For example, a Subjects search for “rapid intervention teams” can be narrowed by typing “training” into the Any Keyword field.

IFSI Library Information

Library Hours:

8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Monday - Friday

Special operating hours may be held during events.

IFSI Library Website


IFSI Library Staff:

Lian Ruan, Head Librarian:

Diane Richardson, Reference & User Training Librarian:

David Ehrenhart, Archivist and Metadata Librarian:

Libguide created by Victoria Volckmann

Contact with any comments, questions, or concens.