Fire Department History
On May 12, 1843, the first volunteer Fire Company known as the “Fire Laddies” was organized in Lower Sandusky. The first ordinance pertaining to fire protection was also passed at that time which required every house to maintain one 2-1/2 gallon leather bucket in front of their homes for emergencies. Each bucket had the initials of the owner inscribed on it so that it could be returned to the rightful owner.
On March 13, 1844, Hook and Ladder Co. Number 1 and Engine Company Number 1 were organized and Stephen Buckland, Esq. was appointed Chief. His salary was to be $25 per year.
In 1853, the City of Fremont purchased the first piece of fire apparatus, a hand pulled pumper and hose cart named the General Bell. It was built in 1851 in Watertown, New York and cost the city $1,300. The pumper was named after Major General John Bell of the Ohio Militia who fought in the Toledo War and was Fremont’s first Mayor. It was housed at the fire station, which at the time was located on the Northwest corner of Croghan and Arch Streets. That station burned down sometime in the mid 1880’s. It took 10 to 15 men to pull it to the fire and 12 to 16 men to operate it. This was done by pumping the handrails on the side. The harder they pumped it, the farther the water would spray. It was however a big improvement over the leather buckets. The General Bell is now housed at the Hayes Presidential Museum.
Between 1860 and 1870 the first steam-operated fire engines were introduced which were pulled by horses. The harnesses were dropped on them from above by pulling a lever, and then attached to the pumper. Dalmatians came to the firehouses at the same time as the horses. The dogs had a calming effect on the horses and they were trained to run between the team. In 1874, Fremont purchased its first steam-operated engine, an 1874 Clapp & Jones. The department at the time consisted of a Chief, 2 teamsters, 8 firemen and two horses. Three of the men were paid. Two additional men would spend the night at the firehouse so that a total of 5 were there to answer emergency calls. The City at that time was divided into 10 fire districts, 8 on the West Side of the river and 2 on the East Side.
In 1910, the City purchased a Webb fire pumper, its first mechanized piece of equipment and only the second in the State of Ohio. The other engine belonged to the City of Cleveland. A 1928 American LaFrance pumper was purchased in 1929. This apparatus is still a part of the Fremont Fire Department and is housed at the Central Station. Price for this engine was $13,000. The truck was restored by the members of the Department in 1999. This pumper protected the citizens of the City of Fremont as well as Ballville, Sandusky, Rice, and Riley Townships. Runs outside the City limits were discontinued in 1965.
In 1940, a 1939 Buffalo Fire Truck became Fremont’s newest addition. On November 5, 1940, not long after it was placed in service, it met a terrible fate. Speeding north on Arch Street, another vehicle traveling east on State Street did not heed the sirens and the truck and members crashed halfway into the Old Fremont Wine Store. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The truck was repaired and returned to service until the mid 1960’s when it was sold to the City of Shelby, Ohio.
Times were hard during World War II, but the City needed a new fire pumper. In 1942, the City acquired a 1942 Dodge chassis. The chassis was taken to Schaaf’s Garage (presently Nu-Tire) on East State Street. The owner Bob Schaaf assembled the City’s first and only homemade fire truck. The truck was sold to the Chemi-Trol Company in the early 1970’s.
A new concept in fire protection was brought to Fremont in 1951. A 75-foot American LaFrance Aerial Ladder waspurchased for $30,000. Also purchased at that time, a 1951 American LaFrance 1,000 GPM pumper for the cost of $15,000. Both of these trucks are no longer in service to the City. The aerial was sold to the City of Bellevue, Ohio and the pumper was sold to an area resident.
There are two Fire Stations in the City of Fremont. The East Side Station, located at 506 Pine Street, became a Fire Station in 1930. Prior to that time it was the home of the Croghan Elementary School.
Up until 1974, Central Fire Station was located at the old City Hall building on the Southwest corner of Arch and Croghan Streets. On August 2, 1974, the present Central Fire Station at 1145 West State Street was officially opened. Dedication ceremonies were held on October 7, 1974, the beginning of Fire Prevention Week that year. This facility can house up to 8 firefighters.
Fremont Fire Department