Friday, January 06, 2017


Congratulations to a Lt. David Aills, a friend of the Springfield Fire Journal.  

Monday, January 02, 2017


Fire Station No. 5, which covered Springfield's west-side, closed Jan. 1, 2017 after the defeat of a ballot initiative to raise the city's income tax.

Firefighters assigned to the station were transferred to one of the city's six remaining stations.

Prior to the closure,  Springfield operated four combination fire/medic companies, three fire companies and three medic units. 
The current minimum  staffing for the Fire Rescue Division is 127.

There have been other closures through the years.

Springfield shuttered Fire Station No. 2 on Wittenberg Avenue during the Great Depression in 1932.

Station No. 9 on Johnny Lytle Avenue closed in 1975.

Old Station No. 9 was converted into a police sub-station, which was also slated for closing in the budget cutting.

Fire Station 5 opened 1981, replacing a firehouse at 1125 West Main Street.


On Dec. 17, the News-Sun reported:

The fire division plans to decrease its overtime by about $60,000 next year, Springfield Fire/Rescue Division Chief Nick Heimlich said.

He plans to lower the number of firefighters working each shift from 28 to 25.

The calls made in the area of Fire Station No. 5 will covered by the closest available unit as it always has been, Heimlich said.

“It’s the way our system has always operated and will continue to operate that day,” Heimlich said. “It’s not something that we had to invent.”

Fire Station No. 5 on Commerce Road was chosen because it had the lowest call volume in the city, he said. However, it’s unclear how many calls that station took for other units throughout the city.

“That’s the one we’re going to be watching because that’s the one that’s harder to predict,” he said.

The fire division is expected to spend about $90,000 in overtime from the general fund next year, he said. It has been planning for this situation since this summer, Heimlich said.

“It’s a good thing we did so now we’re ready,” he said. “We have a purposeful structure built to address the responses we’re going to be needed to make.”

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Photo: WDTN
Neighbors raised a ladder to help two people escape a house fire on East Northern Avenue in Springfield on Feb. 28, 2016. They were "
we’re very fortunate under the circumstances," Battalion Chief Pat Casey told WDTN television. Resident Michael Bertram said: “If it wasn’t for the neighbors over here, we would have been dead.” 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Photo: New Carlisle Sun
On July 25, 2008, firefighters resuscitated a cat rescued from a house fire in New Carlisle, Ohio, according to the New Carlisle Sun.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Springfield, Ohio

  • Maddox Fisher Mill fire - Dec. 5, 1834
  • Linn and Murry fire (N.E. Corner Main and Limestone) - Feb. 21, 1840. Flames consumed entire business block from Maddox Fisher's block on Main Street to alley west of Limestone Street. Pioneer newspaper office destroyed. Fire originated in livery stable. [Beers' 1881 History of Clark County, Sketches of Springfield, 1852]
  • Muzzie and Frankenberg Mill fire (Mill Run and Buck Creek) - Feb. 2, 1857
  • Firefighter John Dawson died in line of duty - Feb. 24, 1857. Killed by falling portico at house fire. [East High Street] [Roberds]
  • Barnett Flour Mill fire (Buck Creek and N. Limestone) - Feb. 2, 1863
  • Rat Row fire (S.E. Market St) - 1868
  • Ferrell Ludley Rodgers fire (E. Side S. Limestone and Union) - 1873
  • Firefighter John  Powell  died in line of duty - June 25, 1873. Powell fell to his death while advancing hose line to belfry at First Lutheran Church fire (Wittenberg Ave. and High St.). [Roberds]


Springfield, Ohio
  • Fire Captain Oscar Keys (or Keyes) died in line of duty - June 28, 1886. Was recovering from injuries sustained at fire at J Funk Keys Grocery (South side of Main Street at Fisher) on May 29, 1886. Fell down elevator shaft from third floor and suffered compound fracture of right leg below knee. Was captain of hook and ladder wagon. [Springfield Globe Republican]
  • Ohio Southern Roundhouse Fire - Jan. 8, 1887
  • Lumber yard fire (Main and Western) - Aug. 30, 1887. 3-story brick shop, 2-story frame dwelling also damaged. $10,000 damage, 4,000 ft hose used. [Roberds]
  • James Leffel Co. fire (Lagonda Ave.) - Oct. 11, 1887. Steamer, 2,800 ft hose used. [Roberds]


Lagonda House

Springfield, Ohio

  • Good and Reese Greenhouse fire (S. Limestone) - April 14, 1890
  • Winter’s Act Litho fire (W. High St) - March 15, 1892
  • Arcade Hotel fire (Fountain and High) - Feb. 19, 1894. General alarm. Started in the basement ``Kindling Room,'' where coal and other fuels were stored. Flames ascended elevator shaft.  Hotel staff escaped from windows and over roof.   [Springfield Weekly Republic]
  • Lagonda House fire (Limestone and  Main streets) - Oct. 29, 1895. Box 12, general alarm. Broke out at midnight in vicinity of kitchen and laundry. Spread rapidly. Dayton Fire Dept. sent reinforcements by train. Hotel destroyed, roof collapsed. [Springfield Republic-Times, New Yorrk Times] 
  • Arcade Building fire (Fountain and High) - April 3, 1896
  • Firefighter Michael J Haley died in line of duty - Aug. 25, 1897. Suffered "sudden death"; no details. [Springfield Republic]


Scenes from fire at East Street Shops - 1902

Springfield, Ohio
  • Hamma School of Theology fire, Wittenberg College - Dec. 28, 1900. Firefighters rescued three students. [Washington Times]
  • E.W. Ross Shop fire - Jan. 14, 1901
  • Congregational Church fire - Jan. 22, 1901
  • East Street Shops fire (East St  and Kenton St) - Feb. 10, 1902. Box 63, general alarm. Largest fire in Springfield's history. Crews hampered by inadequate water pressure, antiquated fire apparatus. Firemen jumped from building as timber supports gave way.  Employees of the Indianapolis Switch and Frog Co. saved their factory by dynamiting walls. Blaze apparently started by chemicals.  [Roberds, New York Times,  Wittenberg History Journal]  
  • Black’s Opera House fire (Main and Fountain) - Feb. 19, 1903. Box 12, general alarm. Wall collapsed, killing three people. Several firefighters injured. YMCA building damaged.  [Roberds, Springfield Press Republic, Washington Post] 
  • Riots after slaying of police officer - March 6, 1904
  • Methodist Campground Hotel fire - Aug. 5, 1904
  • Methodist Campground fire ("All") - Nov. 17, 1904
  • Riots on Columbia Street & Levee. Levee burned. - March 7-8, 1906
  • Indianapolis Frog and Switch factory fire - April 23-23, 1907. Box 163, general alarm. Possibly caused by natural gas leak. Building had survived East Street shops fire in 1902. Owned Charles Warren Fairbanks, vice president of United States in administration of Theodore Roosevelt. [Springfield Gazette, New York Times]
  • Freedom Oil & 4 houses burned (Fountain and Rockway) - Aug. 26, 1907
  • Barn & 5 Houses burned (Clifton and Vine) - Sept. 19, 1907
  • Cartmell Bldg. Fire (Main and Center) - Sept. 7, 1908
  • Wickham-Chapman Piano Co. fire (Sheridan Ave) - Sept. 26, 1908
  • C.C. Fried & Sons Co. fire (6 E. Main St) February 29, 1909


Springfield, Ohio

  • H.V. Bretney Tannery fire - Dec. 3, 1912 (Also listed as Dec. 12)
  • Great Dayton-Springfield Flood - March 12, 1913
  • Firefighter Dennis Sheehan died in line of duty - Nov. 20, 1913. Sheehan died after surgery at City Hospital from injury sustained at fire several weeks earlier. [Newspaper] Beggans Store fire - Jan. 22, 1914
  • Kearms & Lechschuety’s Plant fire - March 6, 1914
  • Robbins & Myers Co. fire (Lagonda Ave) - Dec. 12, 1914 - Started 4 p.m. $175,000 damage.
  • Superintendent of Fire Alarm Lawrence Bosley died in line of duty - Sept. 23, 1915. Died of injuries sustained in fall from fire alarm telegraph pole (Main Street west of Burnett Road). [Springfield Daily News]
  • Theo. Frank Stables fire (26 N. Fountain Ave) - Aug. 21, 1916
  • O.S. Kelly Co. fire  (Limestone and Warder) - Nov. 15, 1926. $ 175,000 damage .
  • Buffalo Springfield Road Roller Co. fire $500,000 damage. - April 11, 1917
  • Columbia Theater collapse - Sept. 28, 1917. Fire workers killed by falling roof during renovation. []
  • Clark County Courthouse fire - March 12, 1918 - General alarm. $1 million damage. [Roberds, The Sun]
  • Influenza outbreak. 5,000 infected.
  • Kresge's five and ten cent store fire - Nov. 7, 1919. Firefighter Walter Reinheimer injured, died Jan. 3, 1920 [Springfield Daily News]


Jefferson School - 1928

Springfield , Ohio

  • Firefighter Walter Reinheimer died - Jan. 3, 1920. Suffered "stroke of apoplexy" while recovering from injuries sustained at Kresge's five and ten cent store fire on Nov. 7, 1919. [Springfield Daily News]
  • Kauffman Store McCoy fire - Jan. 22, 1921. Started @ 11 p.m.
  • Riots - March 12, 1921
  • Fink and Heiney Building fire - July 8, 1921. Flames spread to ammonia tank, which exploded while firefighters were dousing flames. Firefighters escaped injury. [Fire and Water Engineering, Aug. 21, 1921.] 
  • Country Club fire - June 14, 1922
  • Fairbanks Piano Plate Co. fire (Kenton St.) - Nov. 13, 1922
  • Armstrong Foundry fire (Dibert and R.R.) - 1924. Steamer used.
  • Springfield Abattoir Co. fire (Mill Run)  - May 12, 1925. 1st general alarm of day. Started at 3 p.m., $10,000 damage. [Roberds]
  • Brain Lumber Co. fire (East St.) $150,000 - May 12, 1925. 2nd general alarm of day. [Roberds]
  • Mass Foos Co. fire (Isabell between Main and Columbia) - Dec. 17, 1925. Steamer used.
  • Firefighter Charles Deam died - Jan., 14, 1926. Died at City Hospital after commercial truck collided with pumper (Main Street and Belmont Avenue); Firefighter John Miller injured. [Morning Sun]
    Spfld. Malleable Iron fire (Williams  and Main) - April 28, 1926
  • Bryant Bldg. Basket Co. Fires (14 W. Columbia) - Jan. 17, 1928. Steamers used.
  • Jefferson School fire (McCreight and Garfield) - Feb. 19, 1928
  •  Woodlawn Hall dormitory fire, Wittenberg College - May 15, 1928. Fire killed student Hilda Sipes, 20, of Shelby, Ohio. 3 others injured. [Associated Press, Springfield Daily News]
  • Central Brass Co. Fire (Jefferson St) - Feb. 13, 1929
  • Flood - Feb. 26, 1929


Springfield, Ohio

  • Avalon Park Dance Pavilion fire (Auburn Ave) - Dec. 9, 1930. Roof collapsed by the time the first engine arrived. Caretaker was heating mixture of water and coal oil, used as cleaning agent. [Springfield Daily News]    
  • Phito (cq) fire (Tibbetts & Pleasant) - April 24, 1931
  • Peter Boggan Co fire (34 E. Main St) - Jan. 10, 1932
  • Firefighter Roy Kelley died in line of duty - March 27, 1932. Illness. [Newspaper]
  • Cheney Mfg Co fire - Jan. 17, 1934
  • William Baley Co fire (Warder St) - June 1935
  • Traction collision, 7 dead - Aug. 10, 1935
  • Blizzard - Dec. 25, 1935
  • Blizzard - Jan. 22, 1936
  • Interurban crash on C&L.E. near city - April 28, 1936
  • Firefighter Augustus Brown died in line of duty - May 11, 1936. Illness. [Springfield Daily News.]
  • Twister destroys steeples of Broadus Church - February 1937
  • Earthquake. 9:47 a.m. 30 seconds. - March 7, 1937
  • Tuttle Brothers Hardware fire (Monroe St) - Nov. 17, 1937
  • Springfield Hardware fire - June 1, 1938
  • Hoenings Store fire, Robbins Bldg.- April 10, 1939
  • Clark County Lumber Co. fire (W. Main St) - May 20, 1939
  • Elks Club fire - Aug. 13, 1939
  • Trappers Corner fire (Main & Fountain) - Nov. 6, 1939


Photo: Springfield Fire Rescue Facebook

Springfield, Ohio

  • Carmedy Lab fire (625 W. Main) - Jan. 8, 1940
  • Stratton Grain Co. Fire (211 Mt. Vernom) - March 25, 1940
  • Norman Friedman Warehouse fire (Penn & Section) - May 6, 1940
  • Oliver Farm Equipment Co fire (270 Monroe) - Dec. 9, 1940
  • Union National Mill fire (Warder & Power) - Jan. 12, 1942
  • Allen Tool & Mfg fire (R-723 S. Lowery) - July 17, 1942
  • Crowell Collier plant explosion and fire (202 W. High) - Jan. 16, 1943. Worker killed. [Associated Press] 
  • Garmen Dress Shop fire (25 S. Limestone) - May 24, 1943
  • Rhodes Paper Box Co fire (66 St. Johns Pl) - May 4, 1944
  • Cappel House Furnishings fire (126 E. High) - May 23, 1945
  • The Park Bar fire (142 W. Main St) - Feb. 4, 1946
  • Diehl Hardware (66-68 W. Main) - Oct. 14, 1946
  • McCall Coach Co fire (107 Bechtle) - May 19, 1947
  • Spfld. Coffin & Casket Co fire (310 S. Spring) - Sept. 28, 1947
  • Ridgely Trimmer Co fire (1300 Kenton) - Nov. 11, 1947
  • Fire Captain Hugh Garrity died in line of duty - Jan. 7, 1948. Garrity, 69, overcome by smoke. (903 Mound St.) [Springfield Daily News]
  • Paul Straley Home fire (1617 E. High) - Jan. 25, 1948
  • Conrad Motors fire (130 E. Columbia St) - Feb. 5, 1948
  • Citizen Dairy fire (Penn & Section) - Aug. 2, 1948
  • International Steel Wool fire (1018 Kenton) - Sept. 18, 1948
  • Firefighter Albert Kime died in line of duty - May 22, 1949. Killed when train collided with Truck 1 (Fountain Avenue). [Springfield Daily News]


King Building -1956

Springfield, Ohio

  • Davidson Storage Garage fire (311 W. Main) - Nov. 7, 1950
  • Robbins & Meyers Plant explosion (Sherman Ave) - Feb. 10, 1951
  • Bundy Inc Co Fire (301 Greenmont) - Dec. 8, 1951
  • Evelyns Laundry fire (R-222 E. Main) - June 24, 1952
  • Koehler Hardware Co fire (1731 E. Main) - June 26, 1952
  • Old Zimmerman Bldg. fire (Limestone & Main) - March 10, 1953
  • Gasoline fire in sewers, Limestone and Main streets - March 24, 1953
  • Moose Club fire (32 W. Washington) - Nov. 8, 1953
  • Western School fire (Main & Yellow Springs St) - Jan. 4, 1954
  • Ripley Auto Center fire (100 W. North) - Jan. 19, 1954
  • Hynes Dress Shop fire (11 E. High) - Nov. 13, 1954 
  • House fire (5701 Lower Valley Pike, Clark County); 6 dead - Dec. 19, 1955; kerosene heater probable cause. [Springfield Daily News]
  • Western Tool Mfg fire (1620 E. Pleasant) - Feb. 19, 1956
  • King Bldg fire (21 S. Fountain) - Sept. 15, 1956
  • Borden Co fire (125 N. Fountain) - Feb. 20, 1958
  • Potts Auto Body. Arson. - 1959


1964 Mack

Springfield, Ohio

  • Miami Pattern Shop fire (1302 S. Yellow Springs) - March 9, 1960
  • Mercycrest fire (100 W. McCrieght) - Aug. 10, 1961
  • Blair Mfg. Co fire (1620 E. Pleasant) - June 19, 1962 
  • Tremont City Firefighter Willard Dale Ritenour died in line of duty - Nov. 4, 1963. Apparently electrocuted while fighting grass fire in Clark County.
  • Specter Junk Yard fire (Main and Jackson) - 1964
  • Haucke Hardware fire (333 W. Main) - Aug. 11 1964
  • Western Tool Co fire (1620 E. Pleasant) - Oct. 3, 1964
  • Springfield Laundry fire (141 N. Murry) - April 27, 1966
  • Howard Sobers Trucking Co fire (Lagonda & Belmont) - 1968
  • Landmark Mill fire (442 N. Limestone) - Sept. 17, 1968

1970s & BEYOND

Crowell Collier - 1999

Springfield, Ohio

  • Penn Central Freight House fire (300 S. Limestone) - Aug. 25, 1970
  • D.T.I. Freight House fire (300 S. Limestone) - Oct. 9, 1970
  • Helkensen Paper Box fire (714 Rubsam) - April 9, 1971
  • Midwest Rug Cleaners fire (R-230 Chestnut) - June 18, 1971
  • Ronez Homes fire (Belmont & Home Rd) - Aug. 7, 1971
  • B&M Fiberglass fire (350 S. Fountain) - Aug. 9, 1971. Several firefighters jumped from roof to escape flames, fueled by resins and solvents. [Roberds] 
  • Yannucci’s Restaurant fire (1725 W. Main St) - March 7, 1972
  • Springfield Furniture fire (502 W. Euclid) - Aug. 28, 1972
  • Credit Life fire (204 S. Lowery) - Sept. 2, 1972
  • Kar Gard muffler shop fire (2100 S. Limestone) - Oct. 21, 1972. 3 alarms. Roof collapsed. Firefighters had narrow escape. [Roberds]
  • Ebners Junk Yard fire (North & Water) - 1973
  • Xenia tornado - April 3, 1974. Tornado killed 32 people.
  • Ohio Edison generating plant - 1976
  • Tower Hall fire, Wittenberg University - Feb. 1, 1977; 3 alarms with fire on 6th floor; 4 students, 4 firefighters injured; 2 students rescued by Truck 7's aerial ladder. [Wittenberg press release, Springfield Daily News]
  • Locomotive derailment at Skelgas Co. - April 4, 1978
  • Group home fire, multiple fatalities - 1978

    1980s and 1990s
  • Ohio Masonic Home - Jan. 10, 1982
  • Kelsey-Hayes warehouse fire, Aug. 27,1984
  • Crash of twin engine Piper Navaho aircraft (1907 Kenton St.) - Jan. 3, 1989; pilot Mark Garrett Annest died; responding fire companies included Engine 6. [Family seeking information, contact Fire Journal editor.]
  • Coventry Village fire (2354 North Limestone St.) - 1994
  • I-70 chemical incident - Aug. 10,1995
  • Crowell-Collier fire - May 10, 1999. General alarm.

    21st CENTURY
  • Firefighter Brian Fleming died in line of duty - July 17, 2005. Illness. [Springfield News-Sun]
  • R.D. Holder Oil Co. fire (Folk Ream Road, Clark County) - April 19, 2012. [Dayton Daily News]
  • Carter Jewelers Co. fire (Fountain Avenue and Main Street) - Feb. 10, 2013
  • McMurray's Irish Pub fire (122 East College Ave.) - June 7, 2013 
  • Unusual Incident -  Jan. 13, 2014. Rescue 1/Hazmat 1 assisted police at scene of "chemical suicide" near Springfield's municipal stadium. Note in vehicle warned of presence of hydrogen sulfide.
  • Tri-State Pallet fire (Monroe and Gallagher streets) - Jan. 6, 2015

Friday, August 07, 2015


Photo: Champaign County Historical Society
Demolition after fire

On Jan. 20, 1948, fire destroyed the Champaign County Courthouse in Urbana, Ohio - and it took a decade to build a replacement.

According to Wikipedia:

"With no money in the budget for construction, several ballots were voted on to raise funds but were all defeated.

"A group of citizens campaigned for a final bond which passed with a sum of $650,000.

"This was not enough so the county officials decided to pay for the cost to equip the courthouse out of the county's fund which left restricted spending for several years."

The new building was dedicated 
June 8, 1957.

Friday, July 24, 2015


Dayton Fire Department Band - click on photo for wide view

Thursday, January 08, 2015


Dramatic photos of Tri-State Pallet warehouse fire from WDTN Channel 2 and Springfield News-Sun

By Allison Michie
Staff Writer of Springfield News-Sun
Jan. 8, 2015 edition

A massive five-alarm fire (Jan. 6) destroyed an industrial warehouse complex in downtown Springfield, the largest firefighters have battled since the Crowell-Collier burned in 1999.

The charred remains of the structure continued to smolder throughout the day Wednesday and Springfield Fire/Rescue Division crews were expected to remain on the scene overnight.

“In my 23 years on the job, I haven’t seen a fire rage like this,” Springfield Assistant Fire Chief Brian Miller said.

Firefighters poured more than 1 million gallons of water on the flames and much of that water froze, both on the ground and on the crews, making it that more difficult to fight.

The fire occurred at Tri-State Pallet, which is housed in an industrial complex at Monroe and Gallagher streets that has more than 118,000 square feet in multiple buildings, according to county records. Tri-State makes and sells wood pallets.

Firefighters were dispatched to the business shortly after 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, but Miller said he believes the fire had been burning for some time before the alarm activated.

“Initial arriving crews reported tremendous amounts of fire on arrival,” he said, and the flames were so heavy firefighters never entered the building.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation, but Miller said so far it doesn’t appear it was intentionally set. He spoke to the business owners Wednesday and returned to the scene to assess it, but he said a full investigation cannot begin until all the hot spots are out.

A handful of Tri-State Pallet employees typically worked in the warehouses from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.,

Miller said, but no one was in the building when firefighters arrived Tuesday night.

Paul Weber, director of the Springfield Family YMCA on South Limestone Street, said the flames Tuesday were massive in the night sky.

“When we walked out the back door (of the YMCA) you could just feel the heat,” he said.

In their defensive attack against the fire, firefighters focused on keeping the flames from spreading to an adjoining building that was full of thousands of tires.

“We are very lucky that that building didn’t also catch fire, because of the tremendous fuel load in there,” Miller said. “Tires are much more difficult to put out than pallets are.”

Parts of the buildings had a sprinkler system, but Miller said it is unclear if the system was properly working.

Tri-State declined to comment Wednesday. Another warehouse located on Sherman Avenue that is also owned by the company was the scene of a fire within the past year, according to records.

The cause of that fire was never determined, but Miller said it began on the roof and might have been sparked by an electrical issue or sawdust. The fire only caused minimal exterior damage because firefighters were immediately alerted to the blaze by the sprinkler and alarm system, he said.

“A working sprinkler system makes a tremendous difference,” Miller said.

Between 40 and 50 Springfield firefighters rotated shifts overnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning to battle the flames. Thirty fresh firefighters worked at the scene Wednesday.

Firefighters dealt with tough weather conditions as they fought the flames Tuesday and Wednesday, Fire Capt. Brian Wirth said. The low temperature Wednesday was 5 degrees and wind chills dropped below zero.

The extreme cold hinders their supplies — equipment begins to freeze, including a fire house that was frozen solid — but it also takes a toll on their bodies as they work, he said.

“It just soaks down through your bones and just gets harder to move and you start moving slower,” Wirth said.

Temperatures also created dangerous conditions around the scene as sheets of ice formed.

“The worst part is trying to keep your footing,” Wirth said. “You’re slipping and falling. We get a lot of muscle strains, twisted ankles, things of that nature.”

Springfield Twp. and Moorefield Twp. fire department crews responded to assist Springfield firefighters. Box 27, a volunteer crew, also came to provide relief to firefighters.

Firefighters took refuge at the nearby Y, 300 S. Limestone St., to use the restrooms and a gym as a warming center. Box 27 set up volunteers at the Y and Olive Garden donated food.

Ice covered firefighters from head to toe when they came into the Y, Weber said, but they had positive attitudes and remained more concerned about giving their fellow firefighters a break from the cold.

“They would grab a cup of coffee or go to the restroom and then literally come back and put the frozen helmet and put the frozen jacket back on,” he said. “They weren’t even in long enough for the ice to come off the jackets.”

Tom Lagos’ company Zeus Investments Inc. owns the warehouse complex. He said he was shocked when he heard about the fire. As property owner, he was one of the first to receive an alert from the alarm company when the sprinklers went off.

The building has been deemed a total loss so Lagos said it will be torn down. It is appraised at nearly $65,000, according to records from the Clark County Auditor’s website, and was purchased by Lagos in 2009.

“We should saint all of the Springfield firefighters … they avoided what could have been a potential catastrophe in the city,” he said.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


On the night of Saturday, Jan. 31, 1914, Charles Ashburner, newly installed as Springfield's first city manager, swung his budgetary axe, hacking away at the fire and police departments.

The city dismissed 12 firemen and eight police officers, effective Feb. 1.

Ashburner  announced plans to shutter engine houses No. 2 on Wittenberg Avenue and No. 8 on Yellow Springs Street as well, according to the Feb. 1 edition of the Springfield Daily News, though those closures were later reversed.

(No. 2 was permanently closed in 1932 during the Great Depression; No. 8 remained open until a new station was opened in 1973, though it was briefly closed during the Depression.)

The new city manager, hired to root out political excess, cut debt and modernize municipal finances, justified his decision by saying motorization of the fire department allowed firemen to reach "any part of the city in five minutes or less," the Daily News said.

Ashburner also ordered Fire Chief Samuel Hunter to take up residence and sleep at the Central Engine House.

In all, the fire department's budget was cut by about $12,000 or about $283,000 in 2014 dollars.

Of the men struck from the rolls of the fire department, M.J. Dunn, the longest serving member (appointed 1886), qualified for retirement and pension.

The others didn't.

They were:

Frank Bancroft (appointed 1888)

John Oettlin (appointed 1901)

Daniel O'Neil  (appointed 1903)

Dominick Tracey (appointed 1903)

Daniel Fitzpatrick (appointed 1903)

Frank Moore (appointed 1903)

Joseph Garrett (appointed 1904)

James Dunn (appointed 1905)

Pierce Humphreys (appointed 1908)

Clyde Koontz (appointed 1908)

James Sullivan (appointed 1909)

The cuts weren't by seniority, as others with less time on the job remained, though the men received letters saying they would be recommended for reinstatement should there be any vacancy.

None of them returned.

Bancroft, however, was recommended for pension because of  his health.

The cuts left the fire department with Chief Hunter, seven marshals, a superintendent of fire alarm, four engineers and 29 firemen. (Marshals served as station commanders.)

H.T. Evans, of No.4 engine house on Lagonda Avenue, was reduced in rank. Appointed in 1903, Evans retired in 1923.

No new firemen were hired until l916.

In his first year on the job,  Ashburner reduced Springfield's debt to $40,000 from $120,000, according to the May 24, 1919, edition of A Journal of Democracy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


On May 15, 1929, a fire at Ohio's Cleveland Clinic claimed 123 lives.

The blaze started in the basement where an exposed light bulb ignited nitrocellulose x-ray film, releasing poison gas and triggering a pair of explosions.

Rescuers found evidences of the suddenness with which disaster came to those inside the building on every hand," the Associated Press reported.

Battalion Fire Chief James P. Flynn and his driver, Louis Hillenbrand, dropped a ladder to a fourth-floor landing from the roof and discovered 16 bodies in a stairwell.

"One woman smashed a third floor window and was preparing to leap as firemen spread a life net," AP said. "She stood poised, the amber gas swirled about her shoulders, and she collapsed, falling inside the building."

Ernest Staab, a Cleveland police officer assigned to No. 1 Emergency Wagon, sacrificed his life to make 21 rescues.

Staab "collapsed after carrying out his twenty-first burden" and "followed those he rescued to an emergency cot and died a few hours later," AP said.

 Dr. John Phillips, a founder of the clinic, was another of the dead.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014


On Nov. 5, 2014, fire destroyed a historic building housing the Tremont City post office on West Main Street. The mail was spared. “Everything was wet, but I was able to salvage all the mail and all the stamp stock,” Postmaster Brenda Body told the Springfield News-Sun.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

KAR GARD - 1972

Photo: Roberds Collection

It was a difficult job on Oct. 21, 1972,when a 3-alarm fire destroyed the Kar Gard muffler shop at 2100 South Limestone St., Springfield, Ohio.

Firefighters advanced a 2-1/2 inch line onto the roof by ground ladder (photo) but were forced back.

Flames scorched the tip of their ladder before it could be removed.

The roof collapsed and sent parts of the second floor crashing down, according to Capt. Calvin E. Roberds in the book "From Buckets to Diesels."


Photo: Roberds collection

On Nov. 8, 1953, fire struck the Moose Lodge at 32 W. Washington St., Springfield, Ohio.

Engine 8 and Box 27 emergency unit (a former city bus) pictured.

The man standing closet to the "bus" appears to have a camera around his neck. Perhaps he was a newspaper photographer.

The man in the coveralls and what appears to be a helmet standing next to him could be a Box 27 member. Or maybe a representative of the gas or electric utility?

The man in the foreground, of course, is a Springfield firefighter.

Who's the other gent in the fedora? A lodge member? A reporter?

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Retired Springfield Fire Chief Donald Lee died Oct. 20, 2014, according to the Springfield News-Sun.

He was 84.

Lee joined the fire division on Aug. 16, 1956, and served for 41 years.

He was promoted to lieutenant in 1970, captain in 1972, assistant fire chief in 1985 and fire chief in 1989.

During Lee's tenure as chief, the fire division underwent a major re-alignment of personnel and apparatus on Jan. 1, 1995, and acquired its first quint, a combination pumper and ladder truck.

The re-alignment addressed "safety concerns about staffing levels" raised during contract negotiations with the firefighters' union, Lee wrote in the fire division's 1995 annual report.

The plan increased staffing on engine companies and truck companies to a minimum of three per engine and four per truck, without the hiring of additional firefighters.

The quint allowed for the combination of an engine company and truck company, while Engine Co. 1 was placed in reserve and its firefighters were re-assigned to other stations.

In the fire division's 1994 annual report, Lee had requested the hiring of 18 additional firefighters to increase the fire division to "our 1980 manning levels."

Illustrating the severe staffing situation, the 1994 annual report showed just two firefighters assigned to each shift at stations No.3, No. 4 and No. 5.

1995 E-One Quint

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


On Dec. 9, 1930, flames raced through the wooden Avalon Park Dance Pavilion on Auburn Avenue and the roof collapsed by the time the first engines arrived.

Fire crews were hindered by a lack of water and "laid 4,000 feet of hose," according to the Springfield Daily News.

The nearest hydrant was at the corner of Leffel Lane and Clifton Avenue, two blocks away from the pavilion.

"Five fire companies under the command of Assistant Chief Frock did their best to save part of the structure, but without success," the Daily News reported.

The caretaker, S.L. Jones, was heating water and coal oil on the stove and the mixture - used for cleaning the building - exploded, the newspaper said.

The loss was estimated at $27,000. (Adjusted for inflation, that would be $385,000 in 2014 dollars.)

There were no injuries.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


The Springfield Police Division is seeking information on these unsolved arson cases, the earliest of which occurred in 1994.

Early on Aug. 16, 1994, flames engulfed a house at 17 Miller St., Springfield, Ohio Adults dropped children from a second floor window to safety. Nine out of 10 residents survived. However, Avery Bailum, 4, hid beneath his bed where he died. Investigators listed the cause of the fire as arson. A liquid was poured on the porch and set alight. The time of the incident was 6:15 a.m.

On Aug. 13, 2002, Dennis Wade, 47, was set alight while sleeping on the porch of 423 West High St. , Springfield, Ohio. He died of his injuries on  Aug. 21. Wade said someone poured fluid on him. The time of the incident was about 4 a.m.

On May 9, 2008, fire broke out at 1805 Sweetbriar Lane South, Springfield, Ohio. Inside, firefighters found the remains of Alia Hartman, 25. Investigators ruled the death a homicide. The time of the incident was about 12:35 a.m.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014


It was one of Ohio's deadliest fires.

Flames ripped through the Golden Age Nursing Home in northern Ohio, before dawn on Nov. 23, 1963.

Sixty-three people perished.

The fire 
received little notice at the time because President John F. Kennedy was assassinated a day earlier in Dallas.

Nursing home safety standards were lax and antiquated and the blaze led to major reforms.

There were no sprinklers and no manual fire alarms.

Patients were restrained to their beds.

Others were trapped behind wheelchairs too wide for the exits.

Even so, 21 patients survived along with three staff members.

The nursing home was located north of Fitchville, a village near New London.

Trucker Henry Dahman, of Sarber, Pa., reported the fire at 5 a.m. as he drove north along Route 250, according to the Mansfield News-Journal.

Flames were shooting from the roof and walls, he told firemen.

New London firemen reached the scene at 5:10 a. m.

North Fairfield firemen arrived at 5:30 a. m.

Many others followed.

"The place was on fire from one end to the other," New London Chief Al Walters said.

Investigators determined the cause was electrical in nature.

Recalling the fire, Fitchville Township trustee Robert White, who was in eighth grade at the time, told the Sandusky Register: “First JFK was killed, then the fire. It was horrible.”

Today, all that remains at the site is a historical marker.


Golden Age Nursing Home Fire

Located one mile north of Fitchville, the Golden Age Nursing Home caught fire and burned to the ground at 4:45 a.m., November 23, 1963, killing 63 of 84 patients.

Fire departments from New London, Greenwich, North Fairfield, and Plymouth responded.

Ignited by the arcing of overloaded wiring, the incident called for action to require sprinklers, automatic fire detection systems, and electrical wiring compliance to building codes in all nursing homes.

The worst tragedy of its kind in the nation, the incident was overshadowed by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and was not widely reported.

Twenty-one unclaimed bodies were interred in a 60-foot grave in Woodlawn Cemetery in Norwalk.

Link to report on fire response

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


TOP: Duplex fire on Orth Drive, New Carlisle, Clark County, Nov. 9, 2013 (WDTN photo). MIDDLE: On May 27, 2013, firefighters attempted to rescue farmer from grain bin along Lower Valley Pike, west of Springfield. The farmer succumbed to his injuries. (Bethel Township Fire Dept.) BOTTOM: Four people died in house fire on Craig Drive, Kettering, Montgomery County, Dec. 11, 2013. (ABC22)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


On June 24, 1873, firefighter John Powell fell to his death fighting a blaze in the belfry of the First Lutheran Church - then the tallest structure in Springfield, Ohio.

Powell, 27, a veteran of the Civil War, was the second Springfield firefighter to die in the line of duty.

The fire was started by lightning.

To mark the 140th anniversary of the blaze, the church acquired a plaque in Powell's memory for the re-dedication of the steeple on June 23, 2013. 

The effort was spearheaded by Mary Nave, a member of the congregation, whose late husband was a retired Springfield firefighter.

In a message to city firefighters, retirees and Box 27 Associates, Fire Chief Nick Heimlich said the church recognized "the life and death of a fellow firefighter."

The following article - published in the Springfield News Sun on June 17, 2013 - recounts that fire and its aftermath.

It was written by News Sun staff writer Tom Stafford.


The Western Fire Company arrived at Springfield’s English (now First) Lutheran Church on June 24, 1873, in a horse-powered vehicle.

Firefighters have long moved on to mechanical horsepower.
Reports of the time remind us, however, of a sort of power that hasn’t changed in 140 years of firefighting: the power of the emotions that course through a community when a firefighter is killed on the job.

“Bravery and self-denying devotion to the public weal in an official, or public servant, never fail of being properly appreciated in this community,” said the June 27, 1873, Springfield News.

It did so to honor the sacrifice of 27-year-old John P. Powell, who fell to his death while fighting the fire in the spire that had been struck by lightning.

In their resolution honoring him, Powell’s fellow firefighters reflected on the timeless themes of mortality and their calling’s special vulnerability to it.

“By the death of our brother fireman … we are again warned of the uncertainty of life, and the perilous positions we occupy as fireman, and the hazardous risks and duties we are expected and called upon to perform, the danger to health and life and limb, which necessarily attends every call to action.”

“While faithfully discharging his duty,” the resolution added, Powell “was without a moment’s warning hurled into eternity by one fatal step in the wrong direction.”

The church’s Centennial History describes what happened.

A new chemical fire apparatus a salesman had brought to the city was rushed to the scene and “squelched the blaze about the lower part of the spire — an achievement which modern fire fighting equipment could hardly surpass,” the history reports. “But the upper portion of the steeple was still in flames."

Ladders were rigged by the firemen who were determined to carry their hose to the very top of the steeple, if necessary. But the hose leaked, and the higher the firemen climbed, the weaker were the streams from the nozzle.”

As the fire continued to rage, “hosemen of Queen Company carried a line of hose into the church, and up into the smoke-filled tower that supported the steeple. Into the steeple itself clambered John Powell, who carried the play pipe. Up he went, near and near to the flames, his comrades climbing after him and carrying the hose.

“Half-choked, half-blinded, the intrepid young Powell stepped to a board that lay on the cross braces of the tower. But he did not see that he was trusting himself to an unsupported end of the board, and in the next instant, he was hurtling downward to the floor 35 feet below.

“His neck was broken, and his comrades carried him across the street to the office of Dr. W.N. Hedges, where he died a few minutes later.”

Circumstances heaped sadness upon sorrow, as the newspaper story reported.
“The unfortunate young man was to have been married on the coming Fourth of July to a most worthy young lady of this city, who was present and the scene of death and whose lamentations were heart-rending.”

The members of the English Lutheran Church feared the pride they’d had in the tallest steeple in the city had contributed to Powell’s fall. Indeed, because the large Crowell-Collier printing facilities were yet to be built, the spire dominated the West High Street skyline.

In the Centennial History, George L. Rinkliff writes: “Had the tragic death … been prevented, the burning of the steeple would have been more of a benefit than a disaster. It was far better to have the congregation free of debt than to have some of its borrowed money invested in a wooden structure that reared 160 feet above the ground, inviting the wrath of the elements, and beyond the reach of the protective appliances of man.”

“In the congregation, it’s a turning point,” said William Kinnison, former Wittenberg University president and the church’s historian. “Everybody felt a little ashamed of themselves.”

As a result, “they started setting up missions and Sunday schools in other parts of town,” he said, concentrating on the more substantial business of church. The results included the founding of the Second through Fifth English Lutheran churches and others.

Nor was the steeple rebuilt for many years.

The church was not alone in feeling a sense of responsibility for Powell’s death.

At its next meeting, the city council tabled the offered resignation of disconsolate Fire Chief R.Q. [King], then unanimously passed a motion to purchase 1,000 feet of new rubber or leather hose to replace the leaking lengths.

After funeral services at his brother-in-law’s home on Columbia Street, Powell’s casket was placed on the sidewalk in front of the home so that people could pay their respects.

The funeral parade included Masons, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Fire Department and Molders — groups with which Powell had been affiliated. All marched toward Ferncliff Cemetery to dirges played by the American Coronet Band.

“The sidewalks were lined with spectators and a Sabbath-like quiet prevailed, broken only by the sad notes of the band,” the newspaper said. “It has been remarked that the funeral was probably the largest ever known here … The engine houses were closed and draped in mourning, and the bells tolled until the funeral procession had returned.”