Information from Gayleen E. Gindy & Fire Department records
The first time either the Sylvania Township Trustees or the Sylvania Village Council minutes mention a fire department was in July of 1867 when George W. Probert, Marshal of the Village, submitted a list of men who were “ready to carry out the provisions of the fire department,” and listed how many buckets each man could provide.
One early life-long resident said: “The earliest fire fighting equipment in town consisted of a pumper with long side handles to pump water from the creek. The trouble was that everyone wanted to operate the hose and no one wanted to pump. Bucket brigades were also an integral part of fighting a fire.”
For years, the local American Legion organization had provided the necessary volunteers to respond to any fires within the village and township of Sylvania. Then in 1915, after a large hotel in downtown Sylvania burned to the ground, village officials started taking a serious look at purchasing a vehicle for their community so that men could respond to fires. They purchased a Model T Ford chemical truck and stored it in the rear of the council building, which was located on the northwest corner of Main and Monroe Street. Later, they purchased a Ford pickup truck to haul hose around.
There was a bell located in the cupola of the council building that served as the alarm to alert the volunteers that there was a fire. Council started paying the first two men to arrive at the council building $2 each. If the truck was called into the township for a fire, then the township would be charged for each call, and they were billed by the Village of Sylvania each month.
This procedure worked well for a while, but since there were few fires, the men soon lost interest, and by 1920, the village council members were again reorganizing a new volunteer group. By the end of 1927, village officials again re-organized a volunteer fire department, and Mayor C.C. Peck appointed Ralph VanClahn as the chief. The township trustees agreed to pay the village treasurer $3 each time the village responded to a fire in the township.
But on January 14, 1928, the Sylvania Township trustees got serious about forming a permanent fire department, setting aside $2000 from the general fund for the purchase of fire equipment, and that is why, to this day, the department is operated by the township. On February 11, 1930 a petition was presented to the trustees by 19 men asking for the purchase of fire equipment. The petition said in part: “The Sylvania Township Volunteer Fire Department organized on the 10th day of February, 1930 for the purpose of forming an organization to combat conflagrations.” The following officers were elected: Fire Chief – Ralph VanGlahn and Secretary – Edwin C. Howard. The volunteer department agreed to handle fire calls in both the village and township of Sylvania.
The Sylvania Township Trustees included John W. Cooper, Edwin G. Howard and Washington C. Thorp. Within a year, they accomplished establishing a permanent volunteer fire department (remember this was all during the Great Depression years). On February 2, 1930 they purchased the Hine property at 6629 Monroe St. for $1700. On May 3, 1930 they hired Phillip Muessig to build a two bay fire house for $1,368.35. (a second floor and basement were added within four years). On November 18, 1930 they ordered a 1929 American LaFrance Model 191 pumper. January 9, 1931 they held joint meeting with the officials of the village of Sylvania and made arrangements to share in the expense of hiring W.W. Netz to serve as driver and maintenance man at the fire station on a full-time basis. On February 16, 1931 a joint meeting was held with village officials and they agreed to appoint Darrell “Dutch” Williams as the fire chief and officially form a volunteer fire company after a group of 30 men were committed to the job to handle calls for both the village and the township. On July 19, 1932 the township trustees entered into a contract with the volunteer department and agreed to pay them $195 a year.
Other important dates in the fire department history include:
*January 20, 1948 – Fire Chief Darrell Williams resigns and Elmer Cline was appointed as Fire Chief. (Chief Darrell Williams passed away in September of 1948)
*February 5, 1948 – 3 men were hired on a full-time basis as dispatchers.
*June 18, 1948 – Residents in the vicinity of Central Ave. and Holland-Sylvania Road requested to be recognized as a volunteer department known as Sylvania Township Fire Department No. 2. Clifford Pierce was appointed as the fire chief. With public donations and volunteer labor, a three bay firehouse was built in 1950 at 6448 West Central Ave.
*In February of 1951 the volunteer firefighters obtained their own radio base station to be able to talk at emergency scenes.
*The first fire levy, one mill, was approved by village and township citizens in November of 1951.
*On January 15, 1956, Fire Chief Elmer Cline became the first area fire chief outside of Toledo to be a paid full-time Chief. His salary was set at $400 per month.
*In 1959, Derwin “Jim” Aller was hired on a part-time basis for the first fire prevention program in Sylvania.
*On August 6, 1964 the township trustees signed a contract to consolidate police and fire dispatching, to be handled by the city.
*On April 4, 1971 a new 24-hour police and fire dispatching system was established by the Sylvania Township Police Department.
*On January 17, 1973 the first full-time firefighters were hired. They were: Jack Holiday, Michael Perry, Ralph Stallsworth, Fred Czaja, William Gummow, Walter Slaughterbeck, Clemens Pinski, Edwin Shock, Richard Weed and John Dawley.
*February 11, 1976 – Chief Elmer Cline retires. Assistant Chief David Drake is appointed Fire Chief.
*February 9, 1978 – The Township Trustees sign a contract with the Regional Emergency Medical Service of Northwest Ohio (R.E.M.S.N.O.) to staff, house and operate Life Squad #6.
*June 30, 1979 – The No. 3 firehouse opens in a converted gas station at the corner of Whiteford Rd. and Monroe St.
*On February 16, 1984, after a change in state law, the trustees recognize the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2243 as the bargaining unit for the full-time fire fighters.
*In May of 1990 a new fire training facility is completed at 4420 King Rd. behind what is now the Sylvania Township Police station.
*On December 31, 1997 Chief Dave Drake retired. On January 2, 1998 Deputy Chief Christopher Maurer is appointed as Fire Chief.
*In July of 1998 the trustees purchased the building and property at 8210 Sylvania Ave. for a No. 4 firehouse. The building was remodeled and emergency services started operation in 2001 from that location. Cost: $1.2 million.
*In January of 2006, due to budget issues, the trustees laid off 5 firefighters and discontinued the fire department ambulance service.
*February 28, 2007 Chief Chris Maurer retires. The trustees hire Fred Welsh as fire chief. Fred Welsh was the volunteer fire chief in College Park, Md.
*In March of 2008 a new fire levy was passed by the citizens with the promise to replace 3 fire engines, a ladder truck and replace 3 of the fire stations as well as remodel fire house 4.
*In November of 2009, remodeling was completed and the administrative offices of the fire department were moved to firehouse No. 4 from firehouse No. 1 in downtown Sylvania. Remodeling costs were close to $900,000.
*In the fall of 2009 the fire department received delivery of 3 new fire engines for just under $1.2 million and in early 2010 received delivery of a tractor-drawn ladder truck with a 100 foot aerial ladder at a cost of just under $900,000.
*In July of 2010 a new No. 3 firehouse opened at 5056 Haddon Rd. to replace the old No. 3 that opened in 1979. Cost – $1.2 million.
*On December 31, 2010, Chief Welsh resigns and Assistant Chief Jeffrey Kowalski is appointed Fire Chief.
*In July of 2011 a new No. 2 firehouse opened at 3006 N. McCord Rd. to replace the original No. 2 house at 6448 Central that opened in 1950. Cost $1.3 million.
*November 10, 2013, the newly rebuilt Firehouse #1, at 6633 Monroe St. is completed at the same location. At a cost of just over $2 million, it replaces the original firehouse in Sylvania built in 1930.
*November 2014, a fire levy was passed by the citizens of Sylvania to fill two shift positions lost due to budget constraints in 2006, fill a long vacant Fire Prevention inspector position as well as return the fire department ambulance back to service.
*Today the fire department continues to respond to FIRE and EMS calls (over 7000 in 2015) protecting over 49,000 citizens and property in both the city and township of Sylvania. The fire department has 4 firehouses, provides an all-paid professional department with a fire chief, a deputy chief of operations, a deputy chief of fire prevention, a captain of training and safety, two full-time administrative assistants, 12 lieutenants and 46 firefighter/paramedics with help from 10 part-time firefighters. With these employees the fire department maintains a minimum of 14 firefighters on duty every day in service to the community.
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