Fire Buffs promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service and protect its heritage and history. Famous Fire Buffs through the years include New York Fire Surgeon Harry Archer, Boston Pops Conductor Arthur Fiedler, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and - legend has it - President George Washington.

Ready to roll from Springfield Fire Headquarters on North Fountain Avenue

Monday, May 23, 2005



Honor Roll - Springfield and Clark County, Ohio

John Dawson - Feb. 24, 1857

Volunteer Firefighter Dawson was crushed by a falling portico at a house fire on East High Street, according to the Diary of Joseph Osborne as well as Springfield Fire Capt. Cal Roberds' history book, "From Buckets to Diesels."

John Powell - June 25, 1873

Hoseman Powell of the Western Fire Company fell to his death while advancing a hose line to a fire in the belfry of the First Lutheran Church at Wittenberg Avenue and High Street.

Lightning had started the fire.

Powell was a veteran of the Civil War, having served in a local regiment, the 74th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, according to the 1881 book ``History of Clark County.'' The regiment participated in the battles of Hoover's Gap, Dug Gap, Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, according to the book.

Oscar Keys - June 28, 1886

Captain Keys fell down an elevator shaft during a fire that destroyed the B&J Funk Wholesale Grocery Store and other buildings on the southside of Main Street just west of Fisher Street, according to Roberds.

Michael J. Haley - Aug. 25, 1897

An obituary in the Springfield Republic newspaper said Haley, a firefighter at the Lagonda station, suffered a ``sudden death'' but didn't provide details.

His funeral was held at St. Raphael's church and ``the firemen of the city, in honor of their late comrade, escorted the funeral cortage to the church,'' the Republic said. ``All of the machines of the city department, completely manned, met the funeral train at Main Street and Lagonda Avenue.''

Dennis Sheehan - Nov. 20, 1913

Firefighter Sheehan died after surgery at City Hospital from complications attributed to a fireground injury several weeks earlier, according to a newspaper account.

Lawrence Bosley - Sept. 23, 1915

Superintendent of Fire Alarm Bosley, 45, was seriously injured in fall from a telegraph pole and died at City Hospital. Bosley, who joined the fire service in the 1880s as a ``minute man,'' was appointed a regular fireman on Sept. 1, 1892. He also served as vice president of the National Association of Municipal Electricians.

According to the Springfield Daily News on the day of the accident:

``Bosley was working on a pole on Main Street, just west of Burnett Road, being near the cross bar, which was about ten feet from the top of a 50 foot pole. His assistant, George Bauer, was on another pole, three poles away ... They were stringing wires. Suddenly, Bosley fell.''

The following day's Daily News added:

"Bosley was still conscious upon his arrival at the hospital and recognzied his wife to whom he spoke three times with one word, `Darling.'''

In many cities, firefighters were responsible for maintenance of municipal fire alarm telegraph systems. A firefighter in Columbus died in a similar accident in 1911.

Walter Reinheimer - Jan. 3, 1920

Firefighter Reinheimer, 34, was recovering from injuries sustained at a fire at Kresge's five and ten cent store on East Main Street on Nov. 7 1919, when he suffered ``a stroke of apoplexy'' at his home, according to the Springfield Daily News.

Reinheimer, who had been a fireman at the Central Engine House for three years, ``was well liked by all who knew him,'' the newspaper said.

A resolution adopted by the captains of the city's nine engine houses said Reinheimer ``set an example of service and self-sacrifice, which is inspiring.''

Reinheimer had been overcome by smoke at the fire. ``He never fully recovered from his injuries, although it was throught he was improving,'' the newspaper said.

He was survived by his wife, Anna, and three children - Edwin, Charles and LaMar.

In its account of the fire, the Daily News reported in its Nov. 8 edition that firefighters ``were badly handicapped by the dense smoke'' and that ``it was impossible for the men to locate the seat of the fire because they could not get into the basement.''

What's more, ``gas masks which were purchased recently by the government were called into play but useless under the conditions,'' the Daily News said.

Several hours after the fire, Reinheimer was take to City Hospital. He ``was suffering from congestion of the lungs ... and could hardly breath,'' the newspaper said.

The rest of the firemen ``were in bad condition from the exposure and strain on their lungs and eyes,'' the Daily News said.

Charles Deam - Jan. 14, 1926

Firefighter Deam, 33, was fatally injured when a commercial truck collided with the pumper from the Central Fire Station at Main Street and Belmont Avenue, according to the Morning Sun. Deam suffered a fractured skull and other injuries. He died at City Hospital.

Another firefighter, John Miller, 34, was also hurt.

The pumper, driven by Captain Edward Garrity, was enroute to an alarm at 705 North Belmont Avenue. Garrity wasn't injured.

The pumper had stopped before entering the intersection ``in accordance with the arterial highway stop order,'' the Sun said. Deam ``was riding on the platform of the rear of the pumper'' and ``when the impact came, he was hurled from the platform,'' the newspaper said.

The pumper, itself, was thrown 25 feet into a utility pole. The driver of the commercial truck said he couldn't stop his vehicle because the streets were slippery after a snowfall. Witnesses said the commercial truck was traveling as fast as 30 mph.

Roy Kelly - March 27, 1932

Kelly, 43, the marshal and ranking officer at Station No. 8, died after taking ill with ``an attack of acute indigestion,'' according to a newspaper account.

He was appointed to the fire division in 1916, promoted to lieutenant in 1920 and marshal in 1928. Kelly ``was regarded by his commanding officers as an excellent leader of men,'' the newspaper said.

Augustus C. Brown - May 11, 1936

Firefighter Brown, a 31-year veteran assigned to Station No. 5, died after ``a week's illness,'' according to the Springfield Daily News. He was 63.

Hugh Garrity - Jan. 7, 1948

Captain Garrity, 69, was overcome by smoke at a house fire at 903 Mound Street, according to the Springfield Daily News.

Garrity, the first man into the fire, had been a member of the fire division for 44 years.

Garrity was in the attic battling the flames when the platoon chief, Luke Marmion, sent him outside for air. After a short break, Garrity went back inside and collapsed on the first floor.

``Chief Marmion immediately called the inhalator squad and an ambulance,'' the newspaper said. ``En route to the hospital, Lt. Joe Heizen tried to revived Capt. Garrity who was described at `partly conscious.'''

Garrity was the brother of the fire division's assistant chief, Edward Garrity. His son, Paul, was a member of the Piqua (Ohio) Fire Department.

Alfred Kime - May 22, 1949

Fire Chief Grover Frock placed the blame for Firefighter Kime's death on the citizens of Springfield. Kime, 33, died May 22, 1949 when a train collided with Truck 1 as it was answering an alarm from the old Central Engine House.

The fire station was located near the city's main railroad lines. A few years earlier voters had defeated a municipal bond issue to move the fire station to a safer location. What's more, the old firehouse - built in 1876 for horse-drawn wagons - was in disrepair.

Two firefighters were permanently disabled in a train collision at the same grade crossing in March 1903, and the Ohio State Fire Marshal, citing the proximity of the railroad tracks, recommended relocating the station in 1924.

For Chief Frock - who had lobbied for a new central station - the accident was the last straw, and he issued a ``denunciation that put part of the responsibility on the shoulders of Springfield citizens,'' according to The Springfield Daily News.

"Had the people of Springfield voted for the bond issue three years ago to move the firehouse from this dangerous location, this accident would not have happened," Frock said.

At about 8:45 p.m. on that Sunday night in 1949, the alarm sounded for a chimney fire at 133 West Main Street, the home of Patricia Kadel.

As the fire apparatus left the station and approached the crossing, the railroad guard, J.H. Duckworth, flagged through the chief's car, driven by Captain Willard Compton, according to the Daily News. (Compton was accompanied by a visiting fireman, Lieutenant Peter Leach of the Memphis, Tennessee, Fire Department.)

Truck 1 followed with a crew of four Springfield firefighters. Kime was the tillerman, steering the rear of the 85-foor aerial ladder truck. James Walker was driving, according to the newspaper. Robert Snider and Robert O'Neil made up the balance of the crew.

Duckworth, the crossing guard, attempted to flag down the New York Central's eastbound ``Mohawk'' streamliner as it approached the crossing at about 8 to 10 mph, according to the Daily News. The nine-car passenger train, bound for Cleveland from Cincinnati, was on time for its 8:50 p.m. stop at the Springfield station.

The newspaper said:

The big truck was struck a fraction of a second before it cleared the tracks, the train's engine crumbling a left rear wheel and part of the frame.

Mr. Kime was riding on the extreme rear of the vehicle, acting as rear steersman for the long truck. He was thrown to the street and landed about 20 feet from the crash site.

Mr. Snider was riding on the right side of the truck and was putting on his boots when the equipment was hit. He said he did not see the train coming and was dazed in the crash.

The other two firefighters escaped injury. Truck 1 stopped about 60 feet east of the crossing. It careened across Wasington street and struck an unoccupied City cab but remained on its wheels, the Daily News said.

A pedestrian, Ramona Costillo, was injured by debris.

Kime, stilling clinging to life, was taken to the City Hospital with a fractured skull. He died about to hours later. The doctors in Springfield had summoned a brain specialist from Dayton but Kime died before the specialist arrived, the newspaper said.

Snider was treated for injuries to his right shoulder and elbow and was release. Miss Costillo was also treated and released.

The train, meantime, continued on its way about 10 minutes after the accident. New York Central Railroad officials said the locomotive suffered ``little or no damage.''

Firefighter Walker, who was driving Truck 1, made the following statement to Fire Chief Grover Frock, according to the Daily News:

I answered the alarm. Went north on Fountain Avenue. No flagman in sight. Could not see train because of the Hotel Francis. Cross the tracks and was struck by the train engine. Shut off my motor and saw Fireman Kime was injured. Crawled through the train doors and returned to the engine house to summon aid.

The owner of the damaged taxicab, S.F. Bronstrup, said: "I was just coming out of the Arcade Hotel when I heard the crash. I saw a man lying in the street and called an ambulannce immediately."

Kime's death set the wheels in motion for the new Central Engine House that opened in September 1953 at 350 North Fountain Avenue - roughly a half mile north of the old firehouse and a safe distance from the railroad tracks.

According to the Daily News:

Joe Sterling, city commission president, said shortly after the accident Sunday night that a relocation program is included as one of the second year projects he engineered throug the city income tax.

At almost the same time, Carl Berg, executive secretary of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, called the mishap timely ammunition for talks with high rail officials in an effort to iron out the city's traffic problems.

The talks with the top men of the major rail lines serving Springfield are schedules to begin Tuesday in Hotrel Shawnee, Mr. Berg asserted.

Funds for the new station ``had, in the main, been made possible by the 1 percent income tax that the citizens were paying to the city,'' Springfield Fire Captain Calvin Roberds wrote in his 1978 book ``From Buckets to Diesels.

Willard Dale Ritenour, Tremont City - Nov. 4, 1963

Ritenour, a member of the old Tremont City Fire Department, was apparently electrocuted while fighting a grass fire in Clark County.

Brian Fleming - July 17, 2005

"Fleming spent nine years as an active-duty firefighter with the Springfield Fire and Rescue Division and died of congestive heart failure at his home less than 24 hours after his shift ended.
With no known medical conditions, the stresses of Fleming's job were thought to have contributed to his unforeseen death, said Pat Casey, president of the Springfield IAFF Local 333."

- Springfield News-Sun

In September 2006, Fleming was honored with 241 others at the 20th International Association of Fire Fighters Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Observance in Colorado Springs.