A Proud Century of Service
Sometime during 1922, the Strongsville Fire Protection Association was formed after prominent township members canvassed the boundaries within Strongsville and received $712.50. DD Duckett was elected the 1st Fire Chief, L.O.Bean was elected Secretary and GG Atkinson was elected Treasurer. Prior to this, Strongsville relied on the “Bucket Brigade” as their sole source of fire mitigation. Thus, the “Minute Men” were organized. These men lived or worked near the center of town and would drop their work at a moment’s notice and go where called. (The NOVFA sixty-second Annual Convention - Berea, June 18&19, 1935 Convention, pg. 46).
The first fire house was located behind the Old Town Hall, just east of the building. On April 2, 1923, Strongsville Fire Protection Agency received #70 Obenchain-Boyer Chemical Fire Engine from the Fire Equipment and Marine Supply Company in Cleveland for $750; this had two 450-gallon tanks. The Township purchased a Model T Ford with 2 chemical tanks and a small hose bed.
The first recorded fire in the Village of Strongsville occurred on December 25, 1820. “On Christmas day, 1820, Mr. Joseph Wells being absent from home, in the north part of the town, Mrs. Wells took her baby boy in her arms, and walking through the woods where there were wolves, and where the snow was a foot deep, went to the home of a neighbor, Mrs. Hilliard, to a social gathering, to participate in the pleasures and good cheer of Christmas-tide, with its cherished memories of other years. Festivity and merry-making had nearly worn out the day, and nightfall was setting in, when it was found that Mrs. Wells’ log house was on fire. The men ran to the scene only to find that the flames had gained control, and all efforts to put out the fire or save anything were unavailing. This was the first fire in Strongsville. With the assistance of the neighbors, a new house was built very soon. The interest and good-will of the neighbors did not end here, for they bought for the family a barrel of pork, a barrel of flour, and what was considered in those days the staff of life, a barrel of whisky. (History of Strongsville, Oct. 1, 1901, pg. 151)”.
Celebrating 50 years as a full-time department
The Strongsville Fire Department marked 50 years as a full-time unit in 2021, celebrating not only its history but also the award-winning, state-of-the-art department it has become over the last five decades.
Back in 1971, when City Council passed legislation
that turned the volunteer fire unit into a full-time fire and rescue department, a group of dedicated volunteers had decisions to make: Leave their current jobs to take on $8,000-a-year positions with the city or remain volunteers, assisting when needed.
Most of the 22 men on the volunteer unit were established in their own careers. One operated a slaughterhouse, another was a janitor for the Strongsville Schools. Another man owned and operated his own welding company, one was an electrician, two were mailmen, another worked for Ford Motor Co., and yet another was already a full-time firefighter in Middleburg Heights.
Ultimately, 12 men chose to come on board full time, led by Chief Charles Graves, on June 1, 1971. The original crew included 8 firefighters, two lieutenants, a captain and the chief.
They were: Charles Graves, Donald Schneider, John (Bud) Hill, William McKinley, James Jerome, Terry Schneider, Rich Kownacki, Alfred Graves, George Lange, Tom McLaughlin, Donald Myers and Malcolm Fish.
Remaining volunteers included Donald Bushea, Edward (Stu) Jackson, Charles Jerome, Andy Kovach, William Rusch, Mel Siedel and George Taylor.
They finished 1971 with 171 EMS runs and 124 fire incidents, but more important, became the foundation for today’s 61- member department, which handled 4,085 medical runs and 1,699 fire incidents in 2020.
50th Anniversary Celebration July 17, 2021