Photo by Diane Cox
Bethalto named Alex Campbell as the new fire chief to succeed Rich Mersinger, who resigned from the post in late September.
BETHALTO — The Bethalto Fire Department may not have a ladder truck in its arsenal, but that hasn’t stopped Civic Memorial High School alumni Alex Campbell from climbing the ladder of firefighting success.
Campbell was promoted Feb. 3 to the position of assistant fire chief, but a short eight months later his role has changed again.
In a surprise move, Richard Mersinger resigned from the position of fire chief and zoning administrator during the last week of September. The Village Board named Campbell to the position of acting chief Oct. 7 while an official appointment could be determined by the trustees.
After just turning 30, Campbell was appointed to the permanent position of fire chief Nov. 2 during a regularly scheduled Village Board meeting. His wife, Kelly, was given the honor of placing the chief badge on her husband’s shirt. Campbell has been a member of the Bethalto Fire Department since he turned the legal firefighting age of 21.
“It’s a huge honor for me to be able to take over as chief,” Campbell said. “I’m bringing in a lot of ideas and the other members of the department have given me great feedback on what direction they’d like to see our department go in. We are going to work together and make the growth of this department a group effort and keep us going in the right direction.”
Campbell resides in Bethalto with his wife, Kelly, and four children, Parker, 15; Reese, 12; Huck, 3; and Ella, 1. He is employed full time at the U.S. Steel Corp.’s Granite City Works plant.
Fire heavily damages Runway Lounge
The Runway Lounge, 314 W. Bethalto Drive, suffered major fire, smoke and water damage shortly after 1 p.m. Nov. 10 when an electrical fire broke out in the attic. Firefighters from Rosewood Heights responded and Alton joined in the battle, providing a ladder truck.
“A ladder truck is something that is definitely on our wish list, but they are so expensive,” Campbell said. “Rosewood Heights automatically responds when we have a fire and we called for Alton to bring their truck. It’s such a privilege to work with those guys; they are so professional and a great group to battle a blaze with. Firefighting is all about mutual aid and drawing assistance from the departments around you. We’re very fortunate that we have great first responders around us.”
Pizza Hut, located next to the Runway Lounge, was saved from damage because of the quick response and lack of wind.
“We were very fortunate that there was no wind that day,” Campbell said. “The space between Runway and Pizza Hut is very small. We are very proud that we were able to keep the fire contained and not damage another local business. It looks as though we were able to save the structure and I believe it’s the owners (Runway) intention to repair the damage and reopen again.”
The BFD is a volunteer department Monday through Friday. A paid staff is on duty at the station over the weekend. Any Bethalto resident interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter can apply by picking up an application at Bethalto Village Hall, 213 N. Prairie St.