The Bills & Pliickebaum years

From left: Retired Chief Fred Bills, Wilbur Bills, James Pliickebaum, Chief Jerry Pliickebaum taken in 1954, four years after Chief Fred Bills retired.

Two family names held the title of Fire Chief in the Delaware Fire Department from Jan. 1st, 1941 until Apri1 16, 1986. Fred Bills became the first Fire Chief, on January 1, 1941 to be named to that position as a result of a civil service examination. He remained Chief until October 1, 1950 when he retired after 36 years of service. He had started with horse drawn apparatus in 1914. Succeeding him on January 1, 1951 was Jerry Pliickebaum, who remained Chief until Dec. 1, 1956 when he was forced to retire after suffering a heart attack. He had served a total of 17 years with the Fire Department and three and one-half years as a policeman. Succeeding him was Wilbur Bills, son of Fred Bills, on Feb. 9,1957. He remained as Chief until Apri122, 1980, a total of 23 years, 3 months and 13 days. This was the longest tenure of any Fire Chief for the City. He had a total of 32 years of service with the department. Succeeding him was James Pliickebaum, son of Jerry Pliickebaum, on Apri123, 1980. He remained as Chief until April 16, 1986 when he retired with more than 26 years of service.

This ended more than 45 years of service as Fire Chief by the two families. 

  • Fred Bills -10 years as Chief- 36 years of service
  • Wilbur Bills -23 years as Chief- 32 years of service
  • Jerry Pliickebaum -6 years as Chief- 17 years of service
  • James Pliickebaum -6 years as Chief- 26 years of service

45 years as Chief -111 years of service.

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