Fire Department History

HISTORY OF THE BEAVERCREEK TOWNSHIP FIRE DEPARTMENT---1946-1979

As told by Past Fire Chief Trebor "Bud" Crawford
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In 1941, John Scott, owner and operator of Knollwood Florist, decided that the Knollwood area could use some help in extinguishing fires at their homes or on their property. Having a panel truck for his business, he used the truck and purchased portable fire extinguishers, shovels and rakes for the purpose of fighting fires. For manpower, he used his own employees and some local residents he had recruited. He installed a siren on his greenhouse. He let it be known to the community that if they had a fire and needed help that they could call the greenhouse to report their fire. He would then activate the siren for the volunteers to come to the greenhouse and they would respond to the fire.

In 1945, Mr. Scott convinced the township trustees to put a $15,000.00 bond issue on the ballot to start a township fire department. The trustees at the time were Grover Wolf, Otto Zink and Crawford Coy. The bond issue passed and the $15,000.00 did purchase two new Chevrolet fire pumpers. In addition, there was enough money to purchase material for the first Beavercreek Fire Station. It was located on South Central Drive in Knollwood.

The trustees rented two bays from Marshall Bros. Garage, located on Dayton-Xenia Rd. near Factory Rd. That became Beavercreek’s second station. That building was where Elano Corporation is now located. Tom Ferguson was township road superintendent so the trustees appointed him to serve as Beavercreek’s first fire chief. The township was divided into two districts. District #1 was east of Fairfield Rd. William Calvert was District #1 Chief. District #2 was west of Fairfield Rd. and John Scott was District #2 Chief.

In 1946, the two fire pumpers were delivered and, with some basic training in fire and emergency, the volunteers who had been recruited for stations #1 and #2 started the Beavercreek Township Fire Department.

In 1950, the trustees felt that being road superintendent and fire chief was too much of a burden for Tom Ferguson. They relieved him of his being fire chief and appointed John Scott township fire chief. I was a lieutenant at #1 station until 1950. At this time Bill Calvert resigned and I was appointed District Chief at Station #1. I might add that we received no pay for any of these positions, it was all volunteer. Between 1946 and 1950, the volunteers from Station #1 purchased a used Jeep and made a utility vehicle for grass fires and other emergencies. Station #2 volunteers purchased a used panel truck with their own money and made a combination utility vehicle and ambulance out of it.

In 1950, the residents in the N.E. corner of Beavercreek known as New Germany decided that they needed a fire station in their area. The trustees gave them their blessings and Station #3 was started. The station was built on the northern part of Grange Hall Rd. near New Germany Trebein Rd. Labor was by volunteers and material was paid for by the township. By the time Station #3 was built, a used fire pumper purchased by the township was delivered to them. In addition, the firefighters from #3 bought a used semi tractor tanker that held approximately 5,000 gallons of water. Back in those days we had to haul our own water, there was no Greene County Water Department, only wells. At fires we had to haul our water from nearby creeks and ponds. Each of our fire pumpers, #1, #2 and #3, hauled 750 gallons of water.

In 1952, the trustees purchased four two-way radios, one for each of he three pumpers and one for a base station.

In 1956, Chief Scott persuaded the trustees to put a one-mill five-year operating levy on the November ballot. The levy passed and the first year it produced approximately $23,000. Up until then money was in short supply. The volunteers had to raise their money by having square dances, cake sales (with the wives baking the cakes), and donations from private individuals and businesses. Sometimes we had to ask for money or materials from citizens or businesses. When we passed the one-mill operating levy in 1956, we told the people of Beavercreek that if they would pass the fire levy we would never knock on their doors again for donations. It did pass and we didn’t knock on doors again. From that time on, the citizens of Beavercreek passed our one-mill levy every five years and were still doing it when I retired in 1979.picture

In 1957, land was purchased for Fire Station #1 at the corner of Dayton-Xenia Rd. and Forest Dr. A new fire station was built and this also became Beavercreek Fire Headquarters.

In 1958, a new fire station was built on Indian Riffle Rd. between N. Fairfield and Grange Hall Rd. The land that this station was built on was donated to the township by George Henkle, a plat developer in Beavercreek. The volunteers provided most of the labor and, again, the township purchased the materials. A used pumper was purchased from Van Buren Twp., now Kettering, for the new station, Station #4.

In 1960, I was hired full time as assistant fire chief and fire inspector. I inspected public places and businesses for fire hazards or fire code violations. I was particularly well received by the Beavercreek school system.

In 1963, the trustees purchased three-froths of an acre of ground on Dayton-Xenia Rd. between Forestdale and Central Dr. A new, modern fire station was built on this site. This was #2 station and is still being used today. John Scott retired as volunteer fire chief in 1964. Several months later the trustees appointed me their paid fire chief and inspector. My salary was $6200.00 per year, full time. With businesses moving to Beavercreek, we needed and hired two of our volunteers as fire inspectors, working part time 20 hours a week. They were James Valentine and Earl Boggs. picture

In 1972, we hired Eugene C. Merrill, who was Station #4 District Chief, as a full time Assistant Chief and fire inspector. New homes were being built in northern Beavercreek, so in 1973 it was decided to build a new fire station in that area. A station was built on Kemp Rd. between N. Fairfield and Hanes Rd. replacing the old one on Grange Hall Rd. That station is still in use. We also decided to remodel fire headquarters in 1973. We added a third bay and offices to this building on Dayton-Xenia Rd. across from Elano.

In 1974, we began having ladies apply to the fire department as volunteers. We did not have them before for the same reasons you hear today, mostly that ladies didn’t belong in an all male job. I was reluctant to have them join but they soon proved to me that they were just as good as men and a great asset to the department. They were particularly good on emergencies involving children and older adults. Some of them were handicapped in fire situations because they didn’t have the physical size or strength that most of the men had. But, as they say, sometimes brains take the place of brawn and I was very pleased with the contributions the ladies made to our department.

In 1975, fourteen of us started paramedic training. The paramedic course consisted of 240 hrs. of classroom schooling and 240 hrs. of on the job training at different Dayton hospitals covering most emergencies, i.e., emergency rooms, CCU and ICU. In 1976, eleven of us completed the training and passed the course of 480 hrs. We then became certified paramedics. Over the years Beavercreek grew and with that growth our one-mill levy produced more income. Due to the fact that we got good volunteers practically free, we were able to purchase some of the finest fire and emergency equipment in the area. We had a personnel limit of 25 volunteers for each of the four fire stations. Many times there were waiting lists of persons wanting to become firefighters. Then, in the mid-1970’s, volunteerism was beginning to drop. We began to think about hiring some paid men.

In 1978, we were able to hire four full-time firefighters. First they had to pass a written test, a physical and a background check. The trustees hired the top four of nine applicants. Those hired were Dana Brewer, Greg Connors, Gail Thompson and Joe Bianco. All were Beavercreek residents and volunteers. They were all certified paramedics and had much firefighting training. They were sent for additional fire and rescue training at the Dayton Fire Training Academy for 20 weeks. Two of the four are now captains and one is a lieutenant on the Beavercreek Fire Department. One left the department for another city. We could not have had all of the good equipment and fire stations had it not been for the many people, particularly the volunteers and their families, the businesses that supported us, and the township trustees who wanted us to be the best we could be.

In October of 1978 I announced my retirement to be effective January 1, 1979. The Beavercreek Chamber of Commerce, businesses and persons we will never know, gave my wife and me a wonderful retirement party at Wright State University. We were given many nice gifts, including a trip to Hawaii.
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HISTORY OF DISPATCHING FOR THE BEAVERCREEK TOWNSHIP FIRE DEPARTMENT

In 1946 the phones in eastern Beavercreek were on the Xenia exchange and western Beavercreek was on the Dayton exchange. Both fire stations (#1 and #2) had a common Dayton phone number. The #1 station in eastern Beavercreek had to have an additional phone number on the Xenia exchange. It was difficult at times as some residents had to call long distance to get the fire department. Four different homes were equipped with fire phones. Emergency calls came in to all of those homes like a party line. Those homeowners always prearranged that at least one resident would be home to take calls. In addition to that, they were able to set off the sirens located on top of the fire stations. If our volunteers heard the siren, they reported to their fire station. The person taking the emergency call would also call the District Chief and if he was not home would call the next one on the list. In turn, that firefighter’s wife would call two other firefighters’ homes. So on down the list of phone numbers went the call, like a chain reaction.

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s fire monitors were purchased by the township, the station association or by the firefighters themselves. Each firefighter had one at his home.

Elmer (Barney) Wolfe was a firefighter from 1946 to 1951. He was a farmer and while out hunting on his farm on Thanksgiving Day in 1951, he stepped in a hole and injured his back. From that accident he became a paraplegic and had to quit farming. He and his wife, Wanda, and their three sons moved to a home on Forest Dr. Then he became our primary dispatcher 24 hrs. a day. He did this for many years without compensation, then, finally he received a stipend. Eventually he did receive a salary. There was a backup dispatcher at the picture home of Joe and Eileen Rose. The Roses lived on Forest Dr. close to Barney. When they received a fire call they would radio dispatch the call to our firefighters and also set off the sirens on the fire stations.

In 1968 all emergencies, fire and police, started being dispatched from a base headquartered at the Beavercreek Police Station on N. Central Dr.