Seventy-one years ago, the Truro Township Fire Department was nothing more than the dreams and hopes of a group of volunteers who banded together to purchase a fire truck for the township.
Times certainly have changed.
Today, the department consists of a pair of stations, multiple firefighting apparatus, and dozens of firefighters servicing a burgeoning coverage area from Reynoldsburg to Brice. However, in 1937 things were much different.
The township’s first fire chief, Vinton Raymer, was selected by fellow volunteers on April 22 to lead the organization. His garage became a temporary fire station following the delivery of a 99 horsepower firefighting truck on Aug. 27, 1937.
It was not until two weeks later the new vehicle was first put to the test when the Jerry Myers Service Station caught fire. The station was located two miles west of the city. An alarm sounded at 4:50 p.m. on Sept. 9 and six minutes later, the volunteers had the fire under control.
Ironically, Raymer was out of town at the time.
"We’ve come a far way since then," said Truro Trustee Barb Strussion during the trustees’ Sept. 4 meeting.
Over 70 years ago, emergency calls were registered at the local telephone office and a fire siren mounted on a Knights of Pythias building was used to call volunteers to the scene. Unlike the electronic and digital communication center used by the township in the 21st century, the on-duty telephone operator was responsible for sounding the alarm.
Donations funded the construction of Truro Township’s first firehouse and ground ceremoniously broke for the brick facade structure on May 19, 1938. Less than a year later, Raymer began receiving a $30 monthly salary and up to a half-dozen firefighters were paid $3 per run.
One of the first resuscitators in the county was purchased by township trustees for $439 in 1940 and was used for the first time to resuscitate a woman who suffered a heart attack while traveling with family members on Broad Street near Rose Hill. A family physician was called to the scene and lauded the chief and firefighters for their quick response.
Annual dances funded a new fire truck, with labor donated by the firefighters. A 500-gallon water tank and pump for the truck was purchased by the Reynoldsburg City Council on Jan. 1, 1941. A little over a year later, Raymer unexpectedly resigned and John Cobel was named fire chief.
During his tenure, Cobel installed a new alert system consisting of emergency phones located in his home, the fire station, and in a funeral home across the street from the station. During the daytime, workers at the funeral home answered the phone and could push a button to activate a siren at the fire station.
In 1947, ground broke again for a new fire station, which was twice the size of the previous building. A new fire truck was purchased, and the first dedicated emergency squad joined a growing inventory. The township bought a second squad in 1955 and four years later built the Brice firehouse, which is no longer in use.
New helmets, boots, and coats were ordered in 1965 to replace rubber coats in use since 1937. A year later, each firefighter was issued their own radio, which signaled them in the event of a fire or emergency. A base station at the firehouse provided two-way communication.
In 1970, six fulltime firefighters were hired, who then manned the station 10 hours a day, five days a week. On weekends, the stationed was still staffed by a volunteer. Four years later, the paid staff was doubled and in 1975, the township took its first step towards paramedic training with three firefighters enrolled in a medical course at Ohio State. In September of the same year, the township purchased and renovated a former J Mart store at 6900 E. Main St, which continues to serve residents today, along with a new facility on Livingston Avenue that opened on March 17, 2007.
The 36,000 residents of Truro Township, who live in a little over a nine-square-mile area, are now serviced by a department staffed by 39 fulltime firefighters who work 24-hour shifts. Fire Chief Jerry Foltz succeeded Jim Sharps, who retired in 2007. Foltz’s previous position of assistant chief was eliminated in favor of a hierarchy of four Battalion chief positions occupied by Steven Hein, Allen Deaver, Jeff Sharps, and Chancy Kimble.
In addition to a pair of modern trucks, two squads, a couple of SUVs, and a cargo van outfitted for the fire prevention bureau, the department continues to use a 1958 Chevy four wheel drive pick-up outfitted as a grass fighter. It was purchased new, refurbished and repainted several times, and has been in service for 50 years.
Strussion said the township is in the process of compiling historical documents for a map that will be distributed to residents and is in need of vintage pictures and information related to Truro Township, the fire department, and Silent Home Cemetery.
Residents are encouraged to call 866-1317 for information, or drop off photos at the township office, 6900 E. Main St.