On July 12, 1946, a group of men met to discuss the possibility of forming volunteer firefighting associations in various areas surrounding Belleville. The rising demand for emergency services in these unincorporated areas was over-burdening the Belleville Fire Department. The area to be protected by the East Side Volunteer Firefighting Association was the part of St. Clair Township Section 3 not included in Belleville or Fairview Heights. The area included a radius of approximately three miles surrounding the site of the original East Side Fire House, which was located on North Belt East and Route 161.

The Firefighting Association was originally supported by a system of of subscriptions and dues. These funds were used to purchase ground for the fire station and to purchase fire fighting equipment. In 1963, a proposition to convert the association from a dues paying organization to a department supported by taxation was placed on the ballot and was passed by the citizens in the community by a three to one vote.