READY TO ROLL

READY TO ROLL

Thursday, January 26, 2017

TOWER HALL - 1977



In the early and bitter cold hours of Feb. 1, 1977, a three-alarm blaze trapped students and firefighters inside the 10-story Tower Hall dormitory on the campus of Wittenberg University.

Firefighters raised an 85-foot aerial ladder from Truck 7 to save two students, Ed Wittenberg, 20, and David Clement, 20, from Room 601 on the sixth floor, according to The Springfield Daily News and a Wittenberg University press release.

Firefighters escorted two other students from the 7th floor and removed two firefighters from an elevator as flames leapt from the rear of the co-ed dorm on Woodlawn Avenue.


Medic 1 transported students and firefighters to Mercy Medical Center with smoke inhalation.


The first alarm was struck at 1:40 a.m., with Engine 1 from fire headquarters first due. Engine 7, Truck 7, Chief 3 and Medic 1 were also on the initial assignment. Other units typically "on the running card" for alarms at Wittenberg in that era were Engine 8, Engine 5 and Truck 8. (The nearest street alarm - Box 6124 - was located at the corner of Woodlawn and Cassily.)

 There had been confusion as to the location of the fire when firefighters arrived.


Signs in the stairwell identifying the floor numbers had been moved.

There was also a problem with the standpipe system.


An investigation determined a candle in a student's room - Room 612 - started the blaze, which was fueled by a vinyl record collection.

The sixth floor was rendered inhabitable, with considerable smoke and water damage extending from the fourth to seventh floors.

Evacuees were house in other dormitories, sororities, fraternities and private homes.

Most
of the city's fire apparatus responded to the fire as did the volunteers of Box 27 Associates.  (Your editor, a Wittenberg freshman and regular visitor to fire headquarters, was pressed into service to assist Medic 1.)

In total, four firefighters were injured:

William Edgington, 50, platoon commander
Jerry Mansfield, 27
Bill Kemper, 33
Cecil "Pete" Siratt, 49

Later in 1977, one of the deadliest dormitory fires in U.S history killed 10 women at Providence College in Rhode Island on Dec. 23, 1977. That fire started in a closet. Two hair dryers had been left on to dry wet mittens.

The Wittenberg campus was the scene of other fires:

  • On May 15, 1928, fire swept the Woodlawn Hall womens' dormitory, killing Hilda Sipes, 20, of Shelby, Ohio, according to a dispatch from the Associated Press.
  • On Dec. 28, 1900, fire destroyed Hamma Divinity Hall. Firefighters rescued three students even as their hose lines were hindered by low water pressure.

URBANA - 1948


Photo: Champaign County Historical Society

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.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

DAYTON STRIKE - 1977

Associated Press, New York Times
DAYTON, Ohio, Aug. 9—At least 11 families lost their homes today as three major fires spread uncontrolled while striking Dayton firefighters watched from their picket lines.


A judge has ordered the more than 370 firemen to end their two‐day strike, but the union was delaying a response.

Meanwhile the firemen, who want higher wages and a shorter workweek, have said they will respond only in life or death situations in this city of 241,000.

No injuries have been reported from the fires.

Firemen from a nearby town chopped a hole in Bob Jackson's burning frame house, then told him to put the blaze out himself because the strikers had threatened them.

He could not and he lost his home.

An unattended fire destroyed a four apartment complex with an attached business, causing $40,000 damage. Mary Mader, 60 years old, lost her home when fire spread to it from an abandoned apartment building.

Mr. Jackson and Mrs. Mader and at least nine other persons lost their homes when they were caught by the spread of major blazes on Brown Street, in the Gettysburg Avenue area, and near Midway Street.

The 16 fire supervisors were on duty, but they could only try to coordinate with outside departments.

When they received telephone calls, they would go to the fires and make sure nobody was in danger, but would not fight them.

Timothy Harker, president of Firefighters Local 136, acknowledged receiving restraining order to end the strike, issued yesterday by Judge William H. Wolff Jr. of Common Pleas Court.

But Mr. Harker said he would not order firefighters back to work until a meeting of the full membership.

That he said, could take at least two or three days.

City Manager James Alloway directed the spread of the stubborn fire, which rekindled several times.


DAYTON, Ohio, Aug. 10—After two days of standing by while homes or apartments burned, Dayton firefighters reached an agreement with city officials on a new contract late this afternoon, ended their strike and jumped on their engines to answer another fire call.

Although the call turned out to be a false alarm, the sound of fire engines roaring through this city of 240,000 in southwestern Ohio could not have come too soon.

The fires that damaged or destroyed dozens of homes in Dayton had begun to enrage the city's residents.

They had never been confronted before by a strike by uniformed public service employees, and they were growing increasingly angry with the city and its firemen since the strike began Monday at 7 A.M.

City officials announced the agreement just before 6 P.M. the time at which Judge William it P.M., Jr. of Common Pleas Court was to start hearing arguments from the city on a motion for a contempt of court order against the 362 firefighters who failed to return to work yesterday.

The issue was moot by 6 P.M., however, for by that time the firemen were back on their jobs.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

BUSY AS BEES - 1891

Firemen battled flames and swarms of angry honey bees at Davenport's beehive workshop in Springfield, Ohio, in June 1891.

The San Francisco Call published an account of the strange incident its it July 13, 1891 edition, first reported by The New York World:

Springfield (Ohio), June 27 - A dozen Springfield  firemen are covered with soda poultices and slices of fresh onions as a result of fighting a queer combination of bees and blazes late the other night during the fire at Davenport's beehive workshop.

As soon as it was seen that the workshop would be burned to the ground, Davenport  called to the firemen that sixteen hives of valuable honey-bees near the shop would be burned. Firemen, neighbors and the proprietor at one began moving the hives to a place of safety.

Soon the firemen commenced to feel sharp stings on their hands and faces. At first they attributed it to the sparks which were flying thick through the smoky air. Presently, however, they were aware that they had disturbed the midsummer dreams of sixteen hives of furious bees. The bees meant business, and plied their stings without mercy. The firemen were forced to fight the flames and bees both together, and by the time the fire was out they were beside themselves with pain.

The faces of the men were literally covered with lumps where they were stung. There was amusing stampede of the big crowd watching the fire when some one yelled: "The bees are loose!" - Springfield (Ohio) Special to N.Y. World 

Friday, January 06, 2017

LT. AILLS


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

Monday, January 02, 2017

STATION 5 CLOSES



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.”