READY TO ROLL

READY TO ROLL

Thursday, April 10, 2008

GREAT DEPRESSION

UPDATED MAY 2008



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.