The West Suburban Fire Department has quite the family tree growing in it. Thirteen out of their 22 volunteer firefighters are family members that are related by blood.
The Mesch family became a part of the department 21 years ago, when two of the Mesch brothers joined. From there, the department continued to grow with more Mesches.
"I just decided to come up here and join," Chief Keith Mesch said.
It's something that is near and dear to Chief Mesch's heart. A sacrifice he says is well worth it when he's able to work alongside his family.
"It means my life, I've given everything I have for this place," Mesch said.
It's quite the sight to see a majority of the members with the last name Mesch on their jackets when they are out on a call. It's something that is just beginning, and members of the family say it will continue to grow.
"As long as the department is here, yes, I think we will add more and more," Chief Mesch said.
Stephanie Mesch, Chief Mesch's niece, says she's been around fire trucks and ambulances since she was 4 years old. Once she turned 18, she immediately joined the department, and the rest is history.
"It's a really big family, everybody wants to be here. When you sit back and watch it all, it's just amazing how many actually want to be here," Chief Mesch said.
Now, Stephanie Mesch gets the honor of watching the younger generations grow up and enjoy the department just like she did when she was younger.
"We have a little 2-year-old now running around calling fire rucks ambulances, so they're going to grow up to be in it," Stephanie said.
The other 10 volunteer firefighters who are not related to the Mesch family, aren't being left behind. They say they are just as much a part of the family.
Tyler Ruff is a new edition to the West Suburban Fire Department, however, he isn't new to the Mesch family.
"I grew up with the guys. Me and little Jerry went to high school together. Me and PK went to high school and middle school together, and me and the chief's son went to high school together over at Auburn," Ruff said.
Now, no matter who joins next, family member or not, the department will always remain a family affair.