Written by: The Hicksville HIstorical Society
Chief John Swilley commanded Hicksville’s first organized volunteer fire department, beginning in 1872. Members used their own buckets, ladders, safety nets, and other equipment, racing to the scene when called. Eventually, village money was used to purchase buckets. To serve city expansion in the 1880’s, five cisterns were dug to collect water in the downtown area. Since water flowed from the streets into the cisterns, they collected as much mud as water and were deemed unfeasible.
In response to cistern failure, the Hicksville Municipal Council voted in 1890 to construct a waterworks system. Waterworks were constructed and in use before the end of that year. Frank Snyder became chief and more formal organization was given to the department. Equipment purchases included a hook and ladder wagon and a hand drawn hose cart. Ironically, most early department records were destroyed by fire when the municipal building burned in 1892.
Fire Department Milestones:
1925 — Horse drawn equipment exchanged for internal combustion engine-powered fire trucks—a hose truck and a chemical and ladder truck.1933 — Sixtieth annual Northwest Ohio Volunteer Fireman’s Association at the Huber Opera House with 126 departments and nearly 2,000 participants.1955 — Perkins and Reeb Funeral Home takes charge of fire and rescue calls. Hicksville’s Police Department takes over in 1968.1956 — First rescue squad operates resuscitator, using own vehicle or funeral home vehicle.1965 — First Hicksville Volunteer Fire Department meeting in new municipal building held on sawhorses (no chairs).1973 — Five additional firefighters employed, bringing total to 30.1974 — Underwater Search and Recovery Unit added.1981 — Hicksville Rescue Squad made a separate unit, reporting to the fire chief.1985 — State law gives mayor authority to appoint fire chief.1990 — Northwest Ohio Volunteer Fireman’s Association Convention held at the Defiance County Fairgrounds with parades, meetings, and other activities.
Early Fire Department Vehicles:
1936 — Triple combination pumper with front mounted 400 gallon per minute pump; used for village and rural fires; from Fire Apparatus Co., Battle Creek, MI.1940 — Seven hundred fifty gallon per minute pumper from American-LaFrance in NY; used for village and mutual aid fires where fire hydrants were available.1951 — Five hundred gallon per minute pump on truck from American Fire Apparatus covered rural areas and village areas with no hydrants.ca. 1960 — Firemen donate panel truck to village for rescue purposes.1963 — Ambulance donated to village by firefighters.1970 — One thousand gallon per minute pumper from John Beam Division of FMC at Tipton; high pressure pump added.1990 — Pierce Pumper with 1,250 gallon pump
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