Jackson Township Fire Department History

Jackson Township Fire Department History
Prior to 1940, there was no fire protection in Jackson Township.  Between the years of 1940 and 1952, the communities of Willowdale Lake and Lake O'Springs purchased a trailer mounted fire pump, hose, nozzles and a two hundred (200) gallon Ford Chemical truck.
In April 1952, a meeting was called for any persons interested in forming a fire department for the community.  The meeting was held at the Lake Cable Clubhouse with more than 40 individuals showing interest in helping to form a new department.  Those individuals started state fire training with the beginning classes having between 40 and 45 in attendance.  By the time the class concluded in September of 1952, the numbers had dwindled to just twenty two (22) volunteers.  This body organized the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Department Number 1 to be housed in the Lake Cable area.
On October 11, 1952 the Jackson Township Board of Trustees agreed to accept two plats in the Lake Cable area from Dueber S. Cable for the construction of a fire station.  On November 29, 1952 the Jackson Township Board of Trustees authorized advertising for a new fire engine.
Over the winter of 1952-53, the volunteers canvassed the township soliciting donations to build a fire station.  In the spring of 1952, construction was started.  By far the majority of the labor was performed by the new volunteers using the funds and donated material to build a three bay facility.  The building was completed in August 1953.  On August 29, 1953 the Jackson Township Board of Trustees agreed to accept the new fire truck plus "extra" equipment order for a total of $13,660. 
The new department responded to their first fire call on October 13, 1953, which was a swamp fire on Huckleberry Road.  Their first building fire was on December 10, 1953 on Everhard Road "west of Wise".  This fire did approximately $1,500 damage.
In 1958, a second station in the township was started.  It was constructed by the same means as Station 1, using the volunteers for the labor and donated materials.  The Jackson Township Board of Trustees provided some funding to assist the final construction of this facility.  The station was completed in 1960 and a 1955 pumper from Station 1 was relocated to this station.
The first Fire Protection Levy for the department was placed on the ballot in November 1960 for .5 mill and was successfully passed.  Some of the funds generated from this levy were used to purchase an 85-foot ladder truck.  In February 1963, the new ladder was delivered by railroad from the American LaFrance Company in Elmira, New York.  This vehicle was removed from service in 1997.
With the formation of a second fire station, no individual had been named as an overall Fire Chief.  The Board of Trustees addressed this issue on November 21, 1962, naming William R. Schmader as the first Township Fire Chief, responsible for the operations of the fire service within the township.
In the beginning, the volunteers performed all their duties, training and special projects to the community for a compensated fee of $1 per year.  In January 1964, the Board of Trustees raised the "annual" pay for Firefighters to $15, Captains $25, Assistant Chiefs $65, Station Chiefs $75 and the Township Fire Chief received $250.
In 1967, Chief Schmader retired and the Board of Trustees appointed Harold "Ted" Hardgrove as Fire Chief.
Although the township had been expanding residentially through the years, it began to experience major commercial development in the eastern section of the community in the late 1960's, which has continued into the new century.  This expansion and population growth casued additional alarms for the fire department, resulting in the inability of volunteers to respond to all calls and the need for additional fire service was evident.
In 1970, Trustees contracted to have Station 3 constructed.  By October of that year, volunteers had completed training and began answering alarms. 
Station 4 followed in 1972 on land donated by the Higbee Company on Belden Village Avenue and was staffed with volunteers.
On January 15, 1972, Ted Heck, then a volunteer Captain with the department, was appointed as the Township's first full-time firefighter with the rank of Deputy Chief.  By the middle of 1972, five more firefighters had been hired to assist the then 80 volunteer firefighters in responding to alarms.  These new full-time firefighters responded out of Station 1.
Chief Hardgrove served as Chief until his retirement in 1975.  On December 1, 1975, the Trustees made the position of Fire Chief full-time and appointed Ted Heck to fill the vacancy.  Chief Heck served the Township in this capacity until his retirement on March 11, 2011.  In July 1976, additional hiring brought the full-time force to 15 personnel.  This force became one of the first groups of firefighters in the county who were also certified by the State of Ohio as Paramedics. 
Station 1 was remodeled in 1977 to facilitate these firefighters on a 24 hour basis.  By 1979, full-time staffing had increased to 19 persons.
In 1976, a full-time Fire Inspector was hired in the department for the purpose of conducting fire inspections, review plans for new commercial/business construction, conduct educational programs and perform fire investigations.  Through the years, the Bureau has expanded and is an integral part of the fire service of Jackson. 
In 1986, it was decided that Station 4 should be converted from a volunteer force to a full-time crew.  It was also recognized that the existing Station 4 was not sufficient to permit this type of operation and the Trustees built a new facility on Dressler Road.  Old Station 4 was sold.
Again, the newly hired full-time firefighters were certified as Paramedics.  This practice of cross training firefighters as paramedics has continued to the present time with all full-time Firefighters and Captains required to be paramedics.
In 1992, Station 2 was remodeled and full-time firefighters were assigned to this building.  The same action followed in 1994 for Station 3, which was also remodeled.
In 2001, Trustees approved the construction of a Safety Center, which would provide facilities for the Police Department, the relocation of Fire Station 1, offices for the Fire Prevention Bureau and Administrative offices for both Police and Fire Department officials.  The Safety Center was opened in February 2003, at the corner of Wales Avenue and Fulton Drive.
Again, keeping pace with the growth of the Township, a fifth fire station was constructed at the intersection of Hills & Dales Road and Everhard Road and staffed with full-time personnel.   It opened on October 18, 2003.  Trustees, looking to the future needs of its citizens, purchased land at the intersection of Portage Street and Lutz Avenue for a future fire station.
The Jackson Township Fire Department currently consists of five full-time fire stations, 67 full-time and 31 part-time firefighters, who answer more than 5000 calls annually.  They operate four 1500 GPM pumpers, a 100+ foot 1500 GPM aerial tower, a 50 foot 1500 GPM quint (pumper), six paramedic equipped ambulances, a 3,000 gallon tanker, a heavy rescue vehicle, grass truck, boat and all terrain vehicle.   The department is currently under the direction of Chief Tracy Hogue, who began his tenure on March 12, 2011.
Through the years the Jackson Township Fire Department has strived to improve its services to the community.  This has been reflected not only in the expansion of facilities but in the training its firefighters have obtained which is directly reflected in the Fire Department's ability to obtain a Class 2 insurance rating.  This rating has resulted in lower insurance premiums paid for fire insurance coverage.
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Jackson Township
5735 Wales Avenue NW
Massillon, Ohio 44646

Call 330-832-7416
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