The Strongsville Fire Department marks 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.