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

Tuesday, November 25, 2008



On Oct. 29, 1966, the Springfield Fire Division emergency squad responded with police to 415 Ludlow Avenue for a brutal attack on a mother and her baby. Anita Taylor, 20, died. The child survived.

The Taylor murder remains unsolved and the family launched a web site seeking clues. The address is

The official police report said: "The Fire Div. Emergency Squad, consisting of Lt. Olds and Fireman Shook, arrived at the scene and transported the complainant and baby to Community Hospital, where the complainant was pronouned D.O.A. by Dr. Fifer."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Photos: Aven Fire Systems and Police Guide

From the 1880s to the 1970s, Springfield was protected by a Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph System. Alarm boxes were located at street corners. When a box was pulled, a spring-loaded wheel transmitted its number and the bells at the city's fire stations clanged out the location. Firefighters also used Gamewell boxes to request assistance - second alarm, third alarm, etc. - and transmit ``out tap'' signals declaring a fire under control. On Sept. 23, 1915, Superintendent of Fire Alarm Lawrence Bosley, 45, was fatally injured in fall from a telegraph pole on Main Street, just west of Burnett Road.

List of signals from Beers' ``History of Clark County '' in 1881:
5 Warder street, at Buckeye shops.
6 The Western engine house.
7 Corner of High and Spring streets.
8 Central engine house.
9 Corner Lagonda avenue and Nelson street.
12 Corner Monroe and Spring streets.
13 Corner North and Limestone streets.
14 Corner Chestnut avenue and Limestone street.
15 Corner Main and Limestone streets.
16 Corner Ferncliff avenue and Market street.
17 Corner Main and Center streets.
18 Corner Center street and Obenchain alley.
21 At Spangenberger House. East Main street.
23 Corner Lagonda avenue and Main street
24 Corner York and High streets.
25 Corner Tavlor and Pleasant streets.
26 Corner Linden avenue and Clifton street.
27 Corner Pleasant and East streets.
28 Corner High street and East streets.
29 Corner High and Forrest avenue.
31 Corner Hizer and Limestone streets.
32 Corner Center and Pleasant streets.
34 Corner Factory and Washington streets.
35 Corner Mechanic and Pleasant streets.
41 Corner Yellow Springs and Pleasant streets.
42 Corner Yellow Springs and Main streets.
43 Corner Clifton avenue and Liberty street.
51 Corner North and Plum streets.
52 Carner Main and Light streets.
53 Corner Main and Isabella streets.
61 Champion Machine Company's shops, Monroe street.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Photo: Dayton Daily News web site

On Aug. 22, 2008, Springfield firefighters extinguished a fire in an apartment at 555 South Limestone Street and ``a passer-by helped a woman in a wheelchair escape the building,'' The Dayton Daily News reported on its web site.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Fire swept the Clark County Courthouse early on March 12, 1918. Flames destroyed the clock tower, the grand jury room, the common pleas court chamber and the court of appeals chamber. Many of the law library's 9,000 volumes were lost. Fire Chief Samuel Hunter ordered his entire force to the scene. ``Hundreds of feet into the air the flames shot as they encircled the high tower,'' The Sun newspaper said. ``Several lines of hose were used to throw water on the southwest corner in which are kept all the court records of the county ... Two lines of hose were carried to the top of the sheriff's residence and from there water was played on the building.'' Winds carried sparks ``as far down as Spring Street where a dwelling caught fire,'' according to The Sun, and Sheriff James Welch ordered the transfer of inmates from the County Jail to the City Prison as a precaution. The blaze apparently started near a lavatory on the second floor of the courthouse, which was built in 1878.


Early on Aug. 14, 1939, several firefighters were overcome by smoke at a fire at the Elks Club at 126 West High Street as they searched for the building caretaker. Fire Chief Grover Frock was told the caretaker, Ernest Munz, slept in a storeroom, which The Springfield Daily News described as ``a veritable inferno.'' However, Munz was found in another part of the building sound asleep and ``unaware of the fire,'' according to the News.

Monday, August 25, 2008


On Feb. 20, 1958, a general alarm fire started by a welder's torch gutted the old Borden Dairy at 125 North Fountain Avenue.

``Two minutes after the blaze was reported, thick clouds of brownish yellow smoke poured from the building,'' The Springfield Daily News reported.

Fire Chief Willard Compton credited a dairy employee with preventing the flames from spreading.

Carl Newberry closed a door between the storage department and the cheese department and contained the flames.

Milk cartons coated with paraffin fueled the flames, making for a smokey, slippery mess.

After the fire, the pile of debris outside the dairy rose to the second floor.

Engine Co. 1 had just returned to the Central Engine House from a run to the Hume Hotel when the alarm was transmitted for the dairy, according to a 1978 history of the fire division, ``From Buckets to Diesels'' by Captain Calvin Roberds.


On March 10, 1953, a general alarm fire gutted the five-story Zimmerman Building at Limestone and Main streets in downtown Springfield - but a lone lightbulb inside the structure refused to go out.

The blaze burned for more than five hours. It started in the basement and traveled up a dumb waiter shaft to the top floor.

``Although the Ohio Edison Company cut all electric service to the building one light bulb continued to remain lit all through the fire and stayed lit until the upper three stories were removed,'' Fire Captain Calvin Roberds wrote in his 1978 history book From Buckets to Diesels. ``The source of the power was never found.''

Rex Miller, who worked at Pat Finnigan's tavern, pulled the alarm box at the interestion at 2:52 a.m., The Springfield Daily News reported. The second alarm followed at 2:58 a.m. and the general alarm at 3:17 a.m.

``I heard something like a shot being fired or an explosion in the basement,'' Miller told the newspaper. ``The next thing I knew was flames flaring from the basement.''

Hazel Patton, the lone occupant of the office building, fled on a fire escape. Springfield Fire Chief Willard Compton directed the fire fighting and ``practically all men and apparatus from the city department were pressed into service,'' the Daily News said.


On June 3, 1946, firefighters scrambled when a propeller broke loose from an Army Air Force B-29 bomber 30,000 feet over Springfield and showered debris on the city. According to newspaper accounts, the B-29 - which had just set a speed record - was on approach to Wright Field near Dayton when the right outboard propeller broke loose. After striking the aircraft, the propeller plunged into a field on Leffel Lane. Another part buried itself in a yard at 335 West Euclid Avenue. A piece of aluminum casing struck the porch of a house at 315 Highview Avenue. Part of cylinder landed in a yard on Magnolia Boulevard. No one was injured on the ground and the aircraft landed safely.

DT&I WRECK - 1978

On April 4, 1978, a freight train plowed into the Skelgas Co. propane plant in Springfield - forcing the evacuation of homes and businesses by police and firefighters. The derailment was caused by a flatbed truck that collided with the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton train at a grade crossing. The truck was hauling steel rolls. According to news accounts, a quantity of propane gas was released from the Skelgas plant, but there was no fire or explosion, and no one was seriously injured.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Early on May 20, 1939, a general alarm fire swept the yard and buildings at the Clark County Lumber Co. and illuminated the night sky.

``All available equipment of the Springfield fire department was enlisted in the fruitless battle against the scorching flames,'' the Springfield Daily News reported. Train traffic on the New York Central Lines was halted.

Fire Captain Earl Hickman was treated at the yard - located at 1620-1734 West Main Street - for a hand injury and returned to his duties, Fire Chief Grover Frock said.

At the height of the catastrophe, flames leaped more than 100 feet into the sky and threatened adjacent homes and buildings.

Brands fell on a number of properties on the north side of the city and set a fire that destroyed a grain elevator at 1800-24 Main Street. Sparks also ignited a small fire at the Wilson Furniture Service at 1719 West Main Street as well as grass fires.

Utility poles and wires also burned.

According to news accounts, the lumber yard blaze started in Building B, which contained linoleum, insulating material, composition shingles and kitchen cabinets and spread to Building A, which contained the paint department. In all, five buildings were lost.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Photo: IAFF Local 333 web site

On May 5, 2005, the Springfield Fire-Rescue Division battled a pair of serious fires.

The first blaze swept an abandoned building on the northern edge of Snyder Park - apparently the former Bullock Garages, according to the Springfield News-Sun.

``It had a pretty good start on us before we got here,” Fire Chief Mike Beers told the newspaper, with firefighters stretching more than 1,000 feet of hose over railroad tracks and through woods to the nearest hydrant.

The second fire gutted a home at 2712 Berger Ave. Amber Griffith and her 4-year-old son escaped - and also saved their cat, according to the News-Sun.

Friday, June 20, 2008



Fire conditions can change with lightning speed.

As crews battled a fire at The Peter A. Boggan Co. on Jan. 11, 1932, a floor collapsed ``endangering the lives of the firemen and the chief who were in the basement,'' The Springfield Daily News reported. They escaped without serious injury from the store, which was located at 34 East Main Street.

On Christmas morning 2004, Lt. Doug Buffenbarger of Rescue 1 plunged into the basement of a duplex at 805-807 Innisfallen Avenue after the first floor collapsed. Buffenbarger survived the fall, suffering only minor injuries, according to the Springfield News-Sun.

Several Springfield firefighters jumped for their lives as flames consumed the roof of the B&M Firebglass Co. at 350 South Fountain Avenue on Aug. 9, 1971. A series of explosions cut the firefighters off from their ladders, according to Springfield Fire Capt. Calvin Roberds' book ``From Buckets to Diesels.''

On Sept. 18, 2007, a flashover ripped through a vacant house as crews advanced hose lines inside the dwelling. Battalion Chief Marc Lloyd said none of the firefighters were injured in the incident in the 100-block of Shaffer Street, according to WHIO-TV.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Hazmat 1
(Photo: Springfield Fire Division)

Ammonia leak, South Charleston - 2006
(Photo: Springfield News-Sun)

Hazmat 1 went in service in June 2005 - and serves both the City of Springfield and Clark County.

The special unit - which is based at Station No. 1 on North Fountain Avenue with Rescue 1, Truck 9 and Battalion 1 - was built by Sutphen Corp. plants in Springfield and Dublin, Ohio, and financed by a federal grant.

Hazmat 1 is owned by the Clark County Commissioners. It is staffed by Springfield firefighters.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

CITY MAP - 1882

Point and click on map for larger image:
  • List of fire alarm stations (right)
  • Central Engine House - Red Dot 42, center of map
  • Western Engine House - Red Dot 17
  • Southeastern Engine House - Red Dot 61

Thursday, April 24, 2008



Medical - 11,543 (84%)
Fire and other - 2,168 (16%)
TOTAL - 13,711
SOURCE: 2007 Annual Report
50 Years Ago - 1957
Emergency Runs - 2,580 (74%)
Fire Alarms - 905 (26%)
TOTAL - 3,485
100 Years Ago - 1907
Fire Alarms - 149 (100%)
TOTAL - 149
SOURCE: Roberds
Springfield, Ohio
1900 Census - 38,253
1950 Census - 78,508
2000 Census - 65,358

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Crowell-Collier General Alarm - 1999

Springfield, seat of Clark County, Ohio, is located between Dayton (to the west) and Columbus (to the east).

The Springfield Fire Rescue Division is a career fire department that protects the City of Springfield, Ohio, which is located along Interstate 70 and the old ``National Road'' in West Central Ohio. The city is the seat of Clark County.

The fire and rescue service - responsible for emergency medical care, firefighting, technical rescue and hazardous materials response - fields 10 companies operating from seven stations in three platoons (or shifts).

The shifts (A Unit, B Unit and C Unit) work ``24 hours on, 48 hours off.'' Each platoon is commanded by a battalion chief - a rank previously called "platoon commander" or "platoon chief."

Crews of the city's ``combination companies'' respond with either an engine or medic unit depending on the nature of the call - fire, medical, etc. The city also operates a rescue engine, three aerial ladders, a Hazmat unit and a technical rescue unit. An engine and medic unit are also held in reserve.

Typical on-duty staffing is three firefighters per vehicle - or about 30 firefighters, paramedics and officers - per shift. Combination companies are led by lieutenants. The rescue is also led by a lieutenant. Truck companies (the aerial ladders) are led by captains.

The fire rescue division is commanded by the Fire Chief, who is supported by two assistant chiefs and a headquarters staff of uniformed and civilian personnel.

The volunteers of the Box 27 Associates club assist the fire division at major fires and emergencies. The volunteers operate a light and air wagon and a mobile canteen.

Township fire departments protect the rest of Clark County and provide mutual aid to the city, and the Ohio Air National Guard operates a fire and rescue station at the municipal airport.


The story of the Springfield Fire Rescue Division is one of dedicated service and innovation against a backdrop of difficult municipal finances and chronic personnel shortages.

Station No. 2 closed during the Great Depression, and Station No. 9 closed in 1974 as the city's manufacturing base started to shrink.

In the early 1990s, three of the city's fire stations had only two firefighters assigned to each shift, and by mid-decade, the engine company at Station No. 1 was disbanded.

On average, the city's fire engines carried larger crews before the Great Depression of the 1930s, though at that time firefighters also worked longer hours.

The situation has since been reversed. A new policy of billing for ambulance services is providing more money for the recruitment of firefighters and paramedics.

Roberds Book

The fire division was the subject of the 1978 book ``From Buckets to Diesels'' by Springfield Fire Captain Calvin Roberds, who began his career as an auxiliary fireman during World War II. He retired in 1985, having attained the rank of platoon commander.

Roberds, who took great pride in his work as a fire service historian, died in 1995 at the age of 72.

The firefighters' union (IAFF Local 333) and Box 27 Associates helped raise funds for the publication of Roberds' book.

The Springfield Fire Journal is intended to serve as a 21st Century extension of Captain Roberds' comprehensive work. Besides adding new features to the Fire Journal, your editor regularly updates existing articles.

Suggestions are welcomed at

City Heritage

Springfield, established in 1799 by James Demint and migrant Kentuckians, evolved into a major industrial center in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In the 1800s, it led the U.S. in production of agricultural equipment. In the early 1900s, the city's factories produced a variety of autos, including the Bramwell, Brenning, Foos, Frayer-Miller, Kelly Steam, Russell-Springfield and Westcott, according to the Ohio Historical Society.

As the community evolved, fire protection evolved too - from bucket brigades, to volunteer companies and minute men, to a paid fire department to today's fire-rescue service.

Prevention vs Suppression

In the fire service, community safety is Priority No .1.

In his book, Roberds observed:

``Considering the primary mission of the fire service - fire prevention - the fire division has done its most effective work when the engines are in the engine houses. Yet the average citizen is apt to feel that engines not in use are not needed. Conversely, when the firefighters and engines are hard at work on a major fire, the first mission of the fire service has already been lost.''


Since the fire division fielded its first "Emergency Squad" in 1949, its role as first responder to medical emergencies has increased, with medical runs accounting for more than 80 percent of ALL the division's annual runs.

The formal name of the agency was changed to the Springfield Fire Rescue Division in the 1990s to reflect its wider role in the community.

In the annual report for 2004, Springfield Fire Chief Mike Beers reported that three decades after the establishment of the paramedic program - during the tenure of Fire Chief Frank Trempe - more than 80 percent of the city's firefighters are certified to provide advanced life support.

``Frank Trempe was my first fire chief, and he is oftentimes credited with having the vision to embrace the paramedic program that has led to our having the ability today to provide emergency medical services second to none,'' Beers wrote.


On Feb. 19, 1894, fire swept the downtown Arcade Hotel. Flames started in the basement ``Kindling Room,'' where coal and other fuels were stored - and ascended the elevator shaft. Fire Chief Ed Simpson ordered a general alarm to save the hotel.

``So quickly did the smoke cover the entire building that the women attaches of the hotel and in the dining room were compelled to escape from the windows and over the roof,'' The Springfield Weekly Republic reported Feb. 22.

The flames - discovered at 10:15 a.m. - ``spread from the east side to the west side of the hotel throughout all floors, and began eating their way through the hallways on the west side, where the guest chambers are,'' the Republic said.

``The fight became bitter here to prevent the spread of the flames, for if they could pass this point the entire block to High Street would probaly be consumed,'' the newspaper said. By 2 p.m., though, Simpson said the fire was under control.



Photo: Fire Division web site

On May 7, 2004, J. Mike Beers (right), who served as chief of the Springfield Fire Rescue Division from 2000-2010, received an Ohio Fire Executive diploma from Stan Crosley, president of the Ohio Fire Chiefs' Association at Ohio State University. The OFE program is an intensive, two-and-a-half year executive education course for senior fire service officers. Beers was appointed to the fire division in 1975 and advanced through the ranks. In 1991, he was promoted from captain to assistant chief, upon the retirement of Assistant Chief James Oldham. In 2000, he followed Frank Montes De Oca Jr. as fire chief.

Nathaniel Cook 1854 (Volunteer)

James Cushman 1855 (Volunteer)

Abram Ludlow 1856-1857 (Volunteer)

Jeremiah Klinefelter 1857-1859 (Volunteer)

William Blakeny 1859-1865 (Volunteer)

Abram Ludlow 1865-1871

Robert King 1891-1879

J. Christie Holloway 1879-1882

William Moore Jr. 1882-1884

Ed Simpson 1884-1895

George Follrath, 1895-1904

Samuel Hunter, 1904-1928 (Hired from outside fire division)

Louis Locher, 1928-1934

Grover Frock, 1934-1952

Willard Compton, 1952-1963

John Gnau, 1963-1970

Frank Trempe Jr. 1970-1980

William Edgington 1980-1983

William Casey 1984-1989 (Served as acting chief before appointment. Also acted as temporary city manager.)

Donald Lee 1992-1997 (Served as acting chief before appointment )

Frank Montes De Oca Jr. 1997-2000 (Hired from outside fire division)

J. Mike Beers 2000-2010

Nicholas Heimlich 2010-present


Over the years, three of Springfield's fire chiefs served as presidents of the Ohio Fire Chiefs' Association:

Chief Willard C. Compton

Chief Grover L. Frock

Chief Samuel F. Hunter

Additionally, the chief's association presented its Distinguished Service Award to retired Springfield Fire Chief Frank Trempe in 1983. The members of Box 27 Associates received the Distinguished Service Award a year earlier.



In the 1800s, former Springfield Fire Chief A.R. Ludlow, who also served as the city's Police and Fire Commissioner, ran for Governor of Ohio on the anti-liquor Prohibition ticket.



The Great Depression crippled the economy in the 1930s and Springfield's firefighters banded together to prevent job cuts.

``Revenues were inefficient to meet the payroll,'' according to Calvin Roberds' book ``From Buckets to Diesels.'' ``A severe cutback in manpower was proposed.''

Instead, the firefighters ``proved their strong bonds of brotherhood'' and agreed to give up a day of pay each week, Roberds wrote.

The agreement, signed during November 1930, ``kept on duty - and on the payroll - many men who otherwise would have been laid off from work,'' Roberds wrote.

Across Ohio, the state's unemployment rate reached 37.3 percent by 1932, according to the Ohio Historical Society.

As the depression deepended, the city was forced to close Fire Station No. 2 and Fire Station No. 8 in 1932.

Station No. 8 ``was opened again after a very short time of closure but No. 2 engine house remained closed,'' effective Sept. 7, 1932, according to Roberds' book.

Other municipal services suffered. In March 1936, public schools ``closed for lack of funds,'' according to the Clark County Historical Society.

Businesses declared bankruptcy and banks restricted withdrawals to halt a run on deposits in 1933.

Even as the number of fire alarms increased during the 1930s, the city cut spending on supplies and apparatus, placing a ``severe strain on existing equipment,'' Roberds wrote. ``Bursting hose was a problem encountered at many of the working fires.''

What's more, a pair of 1902 American LaFrance steam fire engines remained on the fire division's apparatus roster as spares during the Great Depression. The steamers were housed at Station No. 6 and Station No. 8, according to the apparatus roster for 1936. They remained in reserve until 1940 or 1941.


Photo: Fire Division web site

Remembering Sept. 11, 2001

On Sept. 11, 2002, the City of Springfield marked the first anniversary of the tragedies at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and rural Pennsylvania with ceremonies at Fire Stations #4 and #8. Fire Chief Mike Beers and Police Chief Dave Walters were presented a proclamation by Vice Mayor Dan Martin declaring ``Always Remember 9-11 Day''

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTO of Springfield firefighters extricating the driver of a truck that was struck by a Norfolk Southern locomotive on March 30, 2004. The collision occurred on Zischler Street and the locomotive pushed the truck a half mile east to Isabella Street, according to the AP.




Photo: Fire Division web site

Members of the International Association of Firefighters union serving in Iraq in 2004, including Springfield firefighter Daniel Faust (front row, without helmet)


Photo: Fire Division web site

From left to right, front row: David Johnson, Patrick Hayes, Tristan Walker, Andy Cantrell and John Readler. Back row: Bruce Kelley, Henry Rosasco, Charles Alexander, Wallace Sothard and Sean Pierce.


Fire Station No. 8
735 West Pleasant Street

Home of Companies 8 & 10

YAHOO! search located this photo of Station No. 8 on FLICKR

Station No. 8 is on the south side of Springfield, Ohio. It was built in 1974 to house Engine Companies 5 & 8. Instead, Engine 5 remained at its old station - then on West Main Street - and Engine 8, Truck 8 and Medic 8 operated from West Pleasant Street. Today, it houses companies Engine/Medic 8 and Engine/Medic 10. Old Station No.8 was located on South Yellow Springs Street.


Fire Division Runs for May 23, 1949

The Springfield Fire Division operated eight engines, three trucks and an emergency squad in the years following World War II.

Then as now, the city's firefighters answered a wide variety of calls for help, as noted in the list of runs for May 23, 1949 and printed in the next day's Springfield Daily News.
  • 479 Selma Rd. - Emergency Squad assisted Mrs. Anna Steinmetz, 83, heart attack.
  • 2245 South Limestone St. - False fire alarm.
  • 237 Northern Ave. - Residence of Joseph Nofz for short in refrigerator wiring. Loss $10.
  • 203 West College Ave. - 2,300 volt electric line fell on parked car.
Of course, there is no such thing as a ``routine call'' in the fire service.
Each alarm has its risks.

A day earlier, a New York Central passenger train collided with Truck 1 at Washington Street and Fountain Avenue, killing firefighter Alfred E. Kime, 33.

The firemen were responding to a report of a chimney fire at 133 West Main Street, the residence of Patricia Kadel.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Steam pumper from Engine Company No. 2 pictured at the ruins of the East Street Shops in 1902. Fire Chief George Follrath is pictured to the left of the steamer, according to the hand-written caption. At the front center of the photograph is a Lowry Hydrant, a portable device that tapped the municipal water system. It was carried on the engine. [Phoenix Project, North Charleston and American LaFrance Museum ]


The Champion reaper ... formed the foundation of an agricultural empire. By the 1870s the phenomenal success of this tool ushered in a golden age of manufacturing in Springfield, Ohio which became known as the "Champion City." Demand for Champion products was so large that the firm of Whiteley, Fassler & Kelly moved their operations to the East Street Shops in Springfield, one of the largest manufacturing operations in the world at that time, which covered 54 acres and employed 2,000 workers. -

On Feb. 10, 1902, a wind-whipped general alarm fire leveled the East Street Shops industrial complex and threatened the city's downtown.

Inadequate water pressure and antiquated fire apparatus contributed to the staggering loss to the city and its economy.

Constructed in 1882, the plant - stretching for 800 feet along East Street, and extending for 1,200 feet along the Detroit Southern railroad line - was the largest of its kind under a single roof. (By the turn of the century, the complex had been surpassed in size by Germany's famous Krupp Gun Works.)

The original occupant - William Whiteley's harvesting equipment company - failed after a few years and the shops sat idle for about a decade. (``By 1880, Whiteley's two man shop had become a giant trust producing more farm machinery than all the factories in Chicago put together,'' according to the Ohio State University Extension. `` At a meeting of some of his rival reaper barons, one competitor asked how they could improve business and another answered tersely, `Kill Whiteley!''')

Nonetheless, the East Street Shops got a new lease on life.

A renewal effort by civic leaders, attracted 15 businesses to the shops, including the Krell-French Piano Co.

Westerly wind

Newspapers across the country carried accounts of the fire, with The New York Times reporting in its Fed. 11 editions: ``A strong westerly wind was blowing, and with amazing rapidity the fire ate its way across the buildings, which were all under one roof.''

Box 63 - some accounts say Box 27 - was struck that day at about 9 a.m.

Approaching the fire from a half mile away, the members of Company 1 could see flames bursting out of the attic, according to Captain Calvin Roberds' 1978 book ``From Buckets to Diesels.'' There were no fire stops in the roof, Roberds said.

Firefighters attempted to advance a line from the fourth floor to the attic, but were hampered by the low water pressure. Crews operating on the exterior of the building, ``could not get streams stong enough to break the window panes on the second floor,'' according to The New York Times.

At the time, the fire division relied almost exclusively on hydrant pressure for its hose lines and kept its two steamers in reserve - a practice that had proven inadequate before, including a blaze at the hilly campus of Wittenberg College.

`Criminal negligence'

The lack of modern apparatus at the East Street Shops caused an uproar in the community. ``I consider it criminal negligence on the part of the city,'' said Albert Krell of the Krell French Piano Co., according to Roberds' book. (Krell's company had requested a six inch water main and three additional fire hydrants but the request was denied.)

Municipal finances - and/or perhaps objections to raising taxes - seemed to be at the root of the fire protection problem, based on comments from N.H. Fairbanks, who was in charge of leasing for the East Street Shops:

In a way this is what the people need here, but the lesson is a severe one. There are always come cranks and misers who fight against spending any money no matter for what purpose, but the fire today may open their eyes. ... There is no city in the state of this size which is not equipped with steamers.
In his book, Roberds said:

The general consensus of opinion of all concerned was that if steam fire engines had been on the scene at the start of the fire, the loss would have been small and the fire would have been controlled. While the city's steamers were eventually pressed into service, it was too little too late.

Narrow escape

As the fire gained hold of the attic, timbers started to fall and bystanders ``cried to the firemen to come out if they wanted to save their lives,'' Roberds wrote, quoting the morning Sun newspaper of the next day.

The firefighters escaped, with one man - Robert Moseman - jumping through burning timbers and tumbling down a flight of steps.

The New York Times said: ``Ten firemen were caught in the office of the Krell French Company, and to escape they had to jump from a window.''

The fire division's aerial ladder was also damaged.

Employees of the Detroit Southern Railroad averted a greater disaster by coupling up and moving several cars filled with benzine at a siding along the shops. ``If these cars had not been removed, most of the center of Springfield would have been lost,'' Roberds wrote.

(Coincidentally, a day earlier and several hundred miles to the east, the center of the industrial city of Paterson, New Jersey, had been leveled by a wind-whipped conflagration. That city was known as the ``Silk City'' for its textile industry.)

In an effort to save their plant, employees of the Indianapolis Switch and Frog Co. dynamited the walls west of their plant. (A ``frog'' is a device on intersecting railroad tracks that permits wheels to cross the junction, according to the American Heritage Dictionary.)

Aggravating the problem of low water pressure, people with homes near the fire used garden hoses to douse flying embers.

The crowd of spectators also posed problems for the firemen and the National Guard was mobilized to maintain order and prevent looting.

Chemical explosion

The cause of the blaze, according to The New York Times, was ``the explosion of some chemicals from the Champion Chemical plant, situated in the south west corner of the shops.''

By the time it was all over, the ruins of the East Street Shops resembled Richmond, Virginia, at the end of the Civil War in 1865. Nothing but fractured walls were left standing a few hours after the fire broke out.

Fire Chief George Follrath told the newspapers: ``When we got into the building and we were prepared to fight the flames, the pressure was so weak that we could not strike the rafters with the stream ... I have pleaded with the (city) board for fire protection for our factories; perhaps I will get it now.''

Inadequate water pressure was just part of the problem.

According to Jillian Benjamin in The Wittenberg History Journal:

The fire department was more of a political entity than a skilled profession at the turn of the century. Firemen came and were let go at the slightest comment. The result was a department staffed with incompetent men, who were afraid to voice their opinions or lose their jobs ... The problems that arose from the East Street Shops fires were buried under a mountain of bureaucracy.

The total fire loss for Springfield leaped to $406,682 in 1902 in the aftermath of the conflagration from $66,272 a year earlier - or roughly $8 million in 2005 dollars.

The businesses reporting the biggest losses at the East Street Shops were: Owen Machine Tool Co., Champion Chemical Co., Springfield Foundry Co., Progress Stove and Furnace Co., Indianapolis Frog and Switch Co., Miller Gas Engine Co., Green Manufacturing Co., Krell French Piano Company.



'Black's Opera House Fire'

February 1903


Caught Under Falling Walls at Springfield, Ohio -- Others May Be in Ruins.

Springfield, Ohio, Feb. 19. -- One of the most disastrous fires in the history of the city and the one resulting in the greatest loss of life, broke out at 3:30 o'clock this morning in Mitchell Bros.' plumbing establishment and in less than three hours it had destroyed the building in which are situated M.M. Kaufman's clothing store, the Fountain Square Theater, S.J. Lafferty & Sons' hardware store, Mitchell Bros.' plumbing establishment, J.H. Mulholland's jewelry store, a blacksmith shop, and the new Y.M.C.A. building.

(Washington Post - Washington, DC - Feb. 20, 1903)

On Feb. 19, 1903, a general alarm fire destroyed Black's Opera House, the YMCA and other downtown buildings at Main and Fountain streets - about a year after the conflagration at the East Street shops.

A wall collapsed, killing a jewelry store owner - J.H. Mulholland - and two employees removing merchandise from the premises, and injuring three others.

The search for the victims went on until nightfall even though the fire was declared under control by midday.

Several firefighters suffered injuries ranging from frostbite to smoke inhalation.

Perhaps somewhat unusual for the early 20th century, the initial alarm for the fire at Black's Opera House was received by telephone instead of the street box, and the fire alarm operator struck Box 12 to alert the city's firehouses.

Like the East Street Shops, firefighters encountered water problems.

Snow and ice delayed firefighters from locating the street connection for their ``Lowry Hydrants.''

Lowry flush hydrants ``were generally carried on the back of fire engines and other apparatus and attached to a connection in the street which when attached provided water for fire protection,'' according to the web site

Additionally, the Springfield Press Republic newspaper questioned Follrath's tactics, according to Benjamin. ``No ladders were used and the firemen were wasting energy as well as water in the lack of a competent leader,'' the Press Republic said.

In the aftermath of the second conflagration, the city replaced Follrath. Samuel Hunter, an outsider and a veteran of the Columbus Fire Department, was apppointed chief in March 1904 and he introduced a sweeping program of reforms.


On Dec. 19, 1955, fire swept a bungalow four miles southwest of Springfield, killing five children and a young mother, the Springfield Daily News reported. An exploding kerosene stove caused the blaze - one of the deadliest in the history of Clark County.

Donnelsville Fire Chief George Bardgill said the McDaniel residence, at 5701 Lower Valley Pike, collapsed by the time engines arrived from Donnelsville and Springfield Township No. 3 Rockway Station at 3:43 a.m. The house ``contained many Christmas presents,'' the newspaper said. The weather forecast was for sub-zero temperatures.

Robert McDaniel, 44, and his son, Wayne, 6, escaped with second- and third-degree burns, and Mr. McDaniel attempted to return by ladder ``but his rescue attempt was thwarted by the rapidly spreading flames,'' the Daily News reported.

The fire caused a propane tank ``with 800-pound pressure capacity'' to rupture, said Rockway Station Chief M.B. Kenyon.

Due to an outage in the area, a neighbor, Paul Forbeck, drove two miles to a public telephone at U.S. Route 40 and Techumseh Road to summon help. On the way, he met Donnelsville Police Chief John Frank, who was driving toward the flames.

The head of the City of Springfield's fire prevention bureau, Platoon Chief Luke Marmion, who joined the Fire Division in 1909, told the newspaper: ``I have no memory of any fire in this area in which so many persons died.''

The dead were identified as:
Connie Fogle, 13.
Theresa Coleman, 8.
Betty Lou Hamilton, 20.
Rebecca Hamilton, 2.
Debra Hamilton, 3.
Paulette McDaniel, 9.

In 1954, five people died in a fire in neighboring Champaign County, also during the holidays, the Daily News said.

HOME FRONT - 1940s


During World War II, the Springfield Fire Division helped support a ladies' Victory Canteen that served coffee, sandwiches and donuts to troop trains passing through the downtown Big 4 station.

A firemens' auction fetched $250 in goods for the canteen, which operated from 1942 through the war's end.

According to an article entitled ``A Brief History of Springfield, Ohio's WW II Victory Canteen'' by Scott D. Trostel:

``Between the hours of 10:45 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. daily, 15 scheduled passenger trains called at the platform. The ladies had originally intended to meet nine trains daily, and to only feed those troops on regularly scheduled passenger trains. They were not intending to feed troop trains or hospital trains. That all changed by early 1943, with all trains being fed.''

The Big 4 station was named for the old Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway, which was controlled by the New York Central Railroad.

The station was demolished in the 1960s.


Shortly after the U.S. entered World War II, the City Springfield established a Civil Defense Fire Department to supplement the regular municipal force.

Calvin Roberds, author of the fire division history "From Buckets to Diesels," began his career in the fire service as the captain of the auxiliary force at age 18.

In his book, Roberds said the Civil Defense Fire Department inherited three of the city's old International Harvester hose wagons, which were built in the 1920s and refitted for wartime service with 500 gallon per minute skid pumps and other equipment.

``The end results would not have won any prizes for beauty, but three functional fire engines were the result,'' Roberds wrote.



The following is a modified version of "The Disaster List" - the Clark County Historical Society's record of fires and emergencies:


Maddox Fisher Mill - Dec. 5, 1834
Fonghrby Utlity (cq) & Independence Co Fire - 1837
Linn & Murry Fire (N.E. Corner Main & Limestone) - Feb. 21, 1840
Muzzie & Frankenberg Mill Fire (Mill Run & Buck Creek) - Feb. 2, 1857
Barnett Flour Mill Fire (Buck Creek & N. Limestone) - Feb. 2, 1863
Rat Row Fire (S.E. Market St) - 1868
B&J Funk Keys Grocery Fire (S. Side Main @ Fisher) Capt. Oscar Keys died from internal injuries in fall down elevator shaft - June 28, 1886
Ferrell & Ludley & Rodgers Fire (E. Side S. Limestone & Union) - 1873
First Lutheran Church Fire, 1 firefighter killed - June 25, 1873
Ohio Southern Roundhouse Fire - Jan. 8, 1887
Lumberyard Fire, 3 story brick shop, 2 story frame dwelling (Main & Western) $10,000 damage, 4,000 ft hose used - Aug. 30, 1887

James Leffel Co. Fire ( Lagonda Ave.) Steamer used. 2,800 ft hose used - Oct. 11, 1887
Good & Reese Greenhouse Fire (S. Limestone) - April 14, 1890
Winter’s Act Litho (W. High St) - March 15, 1892
Arcade Hotel Fire (Fountain & High) - Feb. 19, 1894
Lagonda House Fire (Limestone & Main) - Oct. 29, 1895

Arcade Building Fire (Fountain & High) - April 3, 1896

Hamma School of Theology, Wittenberg College - Dec. 28, 1900
E.W. Ross Shop Fire - Jan. 14, 1901
Congregational Church Fire - Jan. 22, 1901
East Street Shops Fire (East St & Kenton St) - Feb. 10, 1902
Black’s Opera House Fire (Main & Fountain) - Feb. 19, 1903 (Also listed as Block and Black Opera House)
Methodist Campground Hotel Fire - Aug. 5, 1904
Methodist Campground Fire ("All") - Nov. 17, 1904
"Jungle" Fire - 1906
Freedom Oil & 4 Houses Fire (Fountain & Rockway) - Aug. 26, 1907
Barn & 5 Houses Fire (Clifton & Vine) - Sept. 19, 1907
Cartmell Bldg. Fire (Main & Center) - Sept. 7, 1908
Wickham-Chapman Piano Co. Fires (Sheridan Ave) - Sept. 26, 1908
C.C. Fried & Sons Co. Fire (6 E. Main St) February 29, 1909
H.V. Bretney Tannery Fires - Dec. 3, 1912 (Also listed as Dec. 12)
Beggans Store Fire - Jan. 22, 1914
Kearms & Lechschuety’s Plant Fire - March 6, 1914
Robbins & Myers Co. Fire (Lagonda Ave). Started 4 p.m. $175,000 damage. - Dec. 12, 1914
Theo. Frank Stables Fire (26 N. Fountain Ave) - Aug. 21, 1916
O.S. Kelly Co. Fire (Limestone & Warder) $ 175,000 damage - Nov.25, 1916
Buffalo Springfield Road Roller Co. Fire $500,000 damage. - April 11, 1917
Clark County Court House Fire Started @ 1 a.m. $1 million damage. - March 12, 1918
Kauffman Store & McCoy Fire Started @ 11 p.m. - Jan. 22, 1921

Country Club Fire - June 14, 1922
Fairbanks Piano Plate Co. Fire (Kenton St) - Nov. 13, 1922
Armstrong Foundry Fire (Dibert & R.R.) - Steamer used - 1924
Springfield Abattoir Parkside Ind. Bldg. Fire - Started at 3 p.m., $10,000 damage. - May 12, 1925 (1st general alarm of day)
Brain Lumber Co. Fire (East St.) $150,000 - May 12, 1925 (2nd general alarm of day)
Mass Foos Co. Fire (Isabell between Main & Columbia). Steamer used. - Dec. 17, 1925

Spfld. Malleable Iron Fire (Williams & Main) - April 28, 1926
Bryant Bldg. Basket Co. Fires (14 W. Columbia). Steamers used - Jan. 17, 1928

Jefferson School Fire (McCreight & Garfield) 2 a.m. - Feb. 19, 1928
Central Brass Co. Fire (Jefferson St) - Feb. 13, 1929
Avalon Park Dance Pavilion Fire (Auburn Ave) - Dec. 9, 1930
Phito (cq) Fire (Tibbetts & Pleasant) - April 24, 1931
Peter Boggan Co Fire (34 E. Main St) - Jan. 10, 1932
Cheney Mfg Co Fire - Jan. 17, 1934
William Baley Co Fire (Warder St) - June 1935
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
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 Co Fire (202 W. High) - Jan. 16, 1943
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 Co. Fire (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
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
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
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
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
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
Specter Junk Yard Fire (Main & 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
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
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 Fire (2100 S. Limestone) - Oct. 21, 1972
Ebners Junk Yard Fire (North & Water) - 1973
Tower Hall, Wittenberg University - Feb. 1, 1977



Cholera. 75 dead. - 1832-33
High St. Bridge destroyed by Flood (York St) - May 13, 1886
N. Limestone St Bridge collapse over Buck Falls - 1889
Cyclone strikes south-side of city - July 13, 1892
Mad River floods east-side of city. Some houses see 3-4 ft of water (Columbia & North) - 1897


Riots after slaying of police officer - March 6, 1904
Riots on Columbia Street & Levee. Levee burned. - March 7-8, 1906
Great Dayton-Springfield Flood - March 12, 1913
Ku KluxKlan Convention - April 2, 1913
Columbia Theater Collapsed into Mill Run - Sept. 28, 1917
Influenza outbreak. 5,000 infected. - 1918

Riots - March 12, 1921
Flood - Feb. 26, 1929
Urbana Pike wreck - 1929
Traction Collision. 7 killed. - Aug. 10, 1935
Blizzard - Dec. 25, 1935
Blizzard - Jan. 22, 1936
Interurban Crash on C&L.E. near city - April 28, 1936
Twister destroys steeples of Broadus Church - February 1937
Earthquake. 9:47 a.m. 30 seconds. - March 7, 1937
Blizzard - Nov. 25, 1950

Gas in Sewers (34 Lagonda) - March 24, 1953
N. Limestone Bridge Collapsed - Nov. 11, 1957

Flood - January 1959
Blizzard - Jan. 27, 1978



May 22, 1922 - Springfield Fire Chief Samuel Hunter (standing, far right) as member of advance committee for August 1922 meeting of International Association of Fire Engineers in San Francisco

Samuel F. Hunter was appointed fire chief of Springfield in 1904 - an era during which cities wrested control of municipal government from political parties to professional managers.

``The fire department was a political football kicked around by the whims and fancies of the city council,'' Fire Capt. Cal Roberds wrote in his 1978 history book ``From Buckets to Diesels.''

An outsider and former member of the Columbus Fire Division, Hunter instituted a series of reforms - including a clear chain of command - and oversaw the mechanization of the city's fleet of engines.

On April 1, 1904, he assumed command of about 40 firefighters, who were on continuous duty, with the exception of mealtime, and received one day off in ten, according to Roberds. There were also 27 horses.

Four of the city's six fire companies were equipped with horse-drawn, steam-powered pumpers - state-of-art apparatus at the start of the 20th Century. The roster also included an aerial ladder and a city service ladder truck.

Hunter replaced the much-maligned George Follrath, who served from 1895-1904 and was criticized for mismanagement in the aftermath of fires at the East Street Shops in 1902 and Black's Opera House and "The Levee" riots in 1904.

Follrath also faced problems of internal dissent as well as drunkenness and fighting among the firemen.

Hunter enjoyed a longer tenure - and retired in 1928.


ABOUT THE PHOTO: Full caption - ``Top Row, L. to R.: Chief Wm. Bywater of Salt Lake City, Chief Peter D. Carter of Camden N.J. - Chief Thos. R. Murphy of San Francisco - Chief August Gerstrung of Elizabeth, N.J. - Chief Ed. T. Murphy of Buffalo, N.Y. - Chief Samuel Boyde of Noxville [Knoxville], Tenn. - Chief Samuel H. (cq) Hunter of Springfield, Ohio. Front Row: Chief Jas. Mulcahey, Sect. of Yonkers, N.Y. - Chief Frank G. Reynold, Pres. of Augusta, Georgia - and Chief Chas. Ringer of Minneapolis, Minnesota.''

Collection of Bancroft Library
University of California, Berkeley.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

RACE RIOTS - 1904 & 1906

Mobs set parts of Springfield ablaze during race riots in the early 20th Century.

On March 6, 1904, a white police patrolman, Officer Charles Collis, was shot twice while investigating a domestic disturbance and died of his wounds after giving chase to his assailant. Police arrested a black man named Richard Dixon (spelled Dickson in some accounts).

After Collis died, a mob formed at the jail - and Dixon was dragged from his cell and killed.

After hanging his corpse from an electric pole in the center of Springfield, the mob marched onto the Levee, a black neighborhood along the Mad River.

According to the Ohio Historical Society: ``The mob set businesses and homes on fire and destroyed the Levee.''

The rioters blocked Springfield firefighters from extinguishing the flames, although they managed to prevent the conflagration from spreading beyond the Levee.

The mayor called the state militia to restore order.

Police Division

More details from the web site of the Springfield Police Division:

Officer Charles B. Collis, 45, responded to a domestic disturbance on March 6, 1904, between Anna Corbin and Richard Dixon at the Corbin house.

During the course of the disturbance, Dixon was to gather his clothing and books. Corbin denied entry to Dixon. Dixon pulled out a revolver and shot Corbin in the chest. Dixon then turned the gun to Collis and shot him twice, once in the abdomen and once in the right arm. Dixon then ran out of the house.

Mortally wounded, Collis gave chase.

Dixon ran to police headquarters, gun still in hand, and Collis still in pursuit. Dixon was promptly arrested and Collis collapsed on the floor of police headquarters. He was taken to City Hospital ... (and) died of his injuries on March 7, 1904.

The news of Officer Collis’ death brought rioting in the streets.

The rioters demanded that Dixon be brought out from the jail so that justice would be served. Upon refusal to release Dixon, the rioters stormed the jail, threatened to kill the jail clerk, and removed Dixon. Dixon was shot, beaten, and hanged from the light post at Main St. and Fountain Ave.

He was then shot several more times from below.

1906 Unrest

About two years later, rioting broke out Feb. 27, 1906 following the shooting of M.M. Davis, a railroad brakeman who was white. The suspects in that shooting were also black.

According to The New York Times:

``Kempler's saloon, on East Columbia Street, was the first object of attack. It was looted, and the owner fled down the street, leaving his wife and three little children asleep in a room over the bar. Just as the crowd was about to set fire to the building the police and firemen forced their way to the door and rescued the woman and children in the nick of time.

``... On leaving Kempler's the mob rushed across the street to a five-story frame building from which the inmates had fled. They smashed in the windows and poured oil on the beds. They then set the house on fire, and it is now in ruins. The firemen did their best to save the structure, but as fast as a line of hose was run out some one in the mob would cut it.''

The mayor again called the state militia to restore order.

Springfield was also the scene of rioting at High and Fountain streets - then known as ``Rat Row'' - on Aug. 16, 1865.

Riots also erupted in 1921.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008



Photo: Ohio Air National Guard

In 2011, the 178th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard turned over airport fire and rescue services at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport to the Springfield Fire & Rescue Division.

City firefighters underwent specialized training for their new duties.

According to the airport's ``Master Plan Update,'' the fire station - which opened in 2005 - is 19,000 square feet.

The military crash fleet consisted of:

• One P-23 ARFF vehicle containing 3,300 gallons of water, 500 gallons of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), and 500 pounds of dry chemical;
• Two P-19 ARFF vehicles containing 1,000 gallons of water, 130 gallons of AFFF, and 500 pounds of dry chemical;
• One P-18 water tender with 2,000 gallons of water and a drop tank with 3,000 gallon capacity
• One P-10 rescue vehicle equipped with a Hurst Tool (jaws of life)
• One P-22 structural pumper rated at 1,250 gallons per minute that carries 500 gallons of water and 50 gallons of AFFF
• One P-20 command vehicle

The 1,400-acre airport - which opened in 1946 - is located three miles south of the Springfield city limits and consists of two intersecting runways as well as an air traffic tower and terminal.

Monday, March 31, 2008


Photo: WHIO-TV

By Lucas Sullivan of Springfield News-Sun

Carol Joseph could see the falling debris and the smoke through the door of the East Liberty Street house she was pounding on.

There was no answer as the driver of a Springfield City Schools bus looked back to see the bus idling in the middle of the road on March 11, 2008.

"It was in the middle of the road and people just started to go around it," Joseph said. "But this house was on fire."

Joseph kept pounding and yelling.

Suddenly, a man emerged at about 7:55 a.m. still shaking off the sleep.

Then out came a woman as debris continued to fall from the second floor turned apartment.

Luckily, no one was up there.

If it wasn't for Joseph jumping out of her empty bus and pounding on the door, fire officials said things could have turned out much worse for the people inside.

"(Joseph) gets a big thank you from me and should be acknowledged by the community for stepping in to help those people," said Nick Heimlich, assistant city fire chief. "It's a selfless act and one that is needed in a time like that."

But Joseph, a city schools bus driver for five years, doesn't want recognition for her actions.

"I would hope anyone would do that if they saw smoke coming from a house," she said. "But I left (that day) before the TV crews pulled up. I just wanted to make sure everyone was out of the house."

The house at 24 E. Liberty St. was not destroyed and the people Joseph rescued have since relocated.

Heimlich said his investigation has determined the fire was arson that started on the second floor.

He did not release the names of the people involved and is awaiting analysis of the materials officials think were used to start the fire.

Joseph said it makes no difference to her if the fire was set intentionally or not. "I just acted on instinct. Then I got back in my bus and drove off."

Thursday, February 14, 2008



Photos: Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center

The Great Flood of 1913 that ravaged Dayton and other cities drove 300 families from their homes in Springfield as Buck Creek poured into the streets of the city, according to a dispatch in the March 26, 1913 edition of The New York Times.

Firemen and police assisted with the evacuation. The city fire division also sent two engines and a chief officer to Dayton, the Times said in a feature in its April 20, 1913 edition.

According to the Ohio Historical Society:

``Beginning March 23, 1913, an unusually heavy rainstorm moved into Ohio. It rained steadily for five days and streams all over Ohio rose rapidly. By the third day of the downpour, levees were overtopped and many towns suffered disastrous flooding.''

Springfield was spared the great loss of life in Dayton.

Among those to die in the neighboring city was Dayton firefighter Ed Doudnaa of Hose Company No. 9, who fell from a rescue boat into the swift waters on March 25, 1913, according to Allan W. Eckert's book "Time of Terror."

Statewide, more than 300 people died, according to the state historical society.


On the 95th anniversary of the flood, the Dayton Daily News recalled:

``In western Clark County, the Mad River trapped people on rooftops; in Springfield, waters rose slowly enough for people to leave, though the bridges between the north and south sides of the city were underwater or washed away. A mother and her two children died in Durbin, just west of Springfield, when their boat capsized as they were leaving their home.

``Even before the waters receded, Springfield residents went to work on relief efforts for their Dayton neighbors, collecting trainloads of provisions in door-to-door appeals. Springfield officials offered up the city's contingency fund for Dayton's use in flood relief.''