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

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.