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.
On March 1, 1872, the Village of Sylvania council passed a resolution to form their first fire department, a Hook & Ladder Company.
The Constitution and By-Laws of the Northwestern Ohio Volunteer Firemen’s Association lists Sylvania Township Fire Department as a Charter Member of that organization, which was founded in 1874.
A fire in April of 1887 destroyed all of the commercial and residential buildings on the west side of Main Street from Maplewood to Monroe Street. History records say the fire was so severe that even the wooden sidewalks were destroyed by the fire. After this fire the village purchased a hand-pumping engine, later replaced by a horse drawn hose wagon and then motorized equipment. The earliest mention of a fire chief by name was in 1899, Chief Crum was mentioned in a newspaper article about a new fire engine trial run and reorganization of the fire company.
One early life-long resident said: “The earliest firefighting 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.”
After a major fire in a hotel in 1915, the Village of Sylvania reorganized a volunteer fire department, naming Paul Peugeot as Fire Chief. 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. A bell located in the cupola of the council building served as the alarm. They also responded to fires in the Township. This volunteer department did not last long, and records indicate that the local American Legion Post started to provide the necessary volunteers to respond to any fires within the village and township of Sylvania, using the equipment the village had purchased. The Village passed an ordinance in December of 1915 to create a fire district and to regulate the construction and repair of buildings within Sylvania. It is reported that in 1920, Chief Peugeot presented names to village council for a new fire department.
On December 15, 1927, the Village of Sylvania again organized a volunteer fire department, with the Mayor appointing the Village Constable, Ralph VanGlahn, as the Fire Chief.
November 3, 1928, Sylvania Township Trustees passed a motion to allow $3.00 a piece to two men who shall come with the fire truck from the village for a fire in the township until such time as the township purchases their own equipment.
On January 5, 1929, the Sylvania Township trustees got serious about forming a permanent fire department, setting aside $2,000 from the general fund for the purchase of fire equipment and $500 for other expenses. On January 14, 1930 the Township Trustees budgeted $8,000 for the purchase of fire equipment and $2,940 for other fire expenses. 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 in Sylvania Township, Lucas County, Ohio.” 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 were 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 26, 1930 they purchased the Hine property at 6629 Monroe St. for $1,700. 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 inspector and driver of fire trucks at the fire station on a full-time basis, with his wages divided between the village and township. On February 11, 1931 a joint meeting was held between township and village officials; 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. A fire department governing board was established with the three township trustees, two village councilmen and the mayor as the board. Minutes from the volunteer fire department secretary indicate the Sylvania Township Fire Department was officially organized on February 16, 1931.
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 is hired to work as a full-time Fire Chief, becoming 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 a 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 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 retires. 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 after 30 years of service. 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 aerial 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 and added onto numerous times.
*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.
*March 2017, the fire department takes delivery of a new fire engine, built in Columbus by Sutphen Corp. at a cost of $517,000.
*March 16, 2017, Fire Chief Jeff Kowalski retires after 38 years of service on the department. Deputy Chief Michael Ramm is appointed as the new Fire Chief, effective March 17, 2017.
Today the fire department continues to respond to over 5500 FIRE and EMS incidents annually; 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 Community Risk Reduction, a Captain of Training and Safety, two full-time Administrative Assistants, 12 Lieutenants and 47 firefighter/paramedics with help from 10 part-time firefighters. With these employees, the fire department maintains a minimum of 14 fire fighters on duty every day in service to the community.
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