HISTORY OF NORTHWOOD V.F.D. #2 COMPANY
Northwood Volunteer Fire Department #2 (formerly Ross Township #2) was proposed in November, 1949 as the Ross Township Civic Association. Not much action was taken until mid February, 1950. At that time Mr. Karl Hirzel, Sr., owner of Hirzel Canning Company on Lemoyne Road, called a group of citizens to his office and asked them if they were still interested in starting a fire department. If so, he had a 1945 Ford chassis with a 1946 Mercury flat-head engine and also an 800-gallon tank he would donate.
They took Mr. Hirzel’s offer and in March, 1950 a meeting was held to organize the Ross Township #2 Fire Department. Verner Beaudry was appointed the first chief of the department. Chief Beaudry called the men together and went over to Hirzel’s to start work on the fire truck. The welding rods, steel plates, pipe, and the Hirzel Canning Company also donated most of the lights.
Along with Karl Hirzel, Sr. and Verner Beaudry, there were ten other men who worked long hours on the truck often neglecting their families. They were Gordon Coburn, Ernie Gargic, Ralph Lawson, Robert Martin, Raymond Paben, James Savage, Robert Shepard, Donald Stemen, Robert Temple and Robert Walters.
While the men were busy building the truck, the township trustees purchased 600 feet of 1 1/2” hose, two 1 1/2” nozzles and an auxiliary pump to outfit the truck. In late June, 1950 the truck was ready to roll and L.O.F. (Libbey Owens Ford) sent Chief Beaudry a check for $368.00 to buy twenty sets of boots, coats and helmets for the men. The fire truck and men were ready, but they still had no fire station. They had to work out of Hirzel Canning Company until they got a station.
The first call (alarm) was in 1950 even though they were not officially in service. It was a grass fire.
Later in 1950 they moved from Hirzel Canning Company to what is now the City Street Department on Oram and Wales Roads. But, they still were not officially a fire department. If someone had a fire they had to call one of the firemen on a phone, and he would call the rest of the firemen. For Christmas of 1950, the Ross Township Trustees gave the firemen a siren. The men went to work putting up the siren and getting it hooked up with the telephone. When the phone rang the siren went off.
Finally on May 1, 1951 they went into service and received their first call at 8:05pm; a false alarm. In 1951 the department had 47 calls in which 40 were false alarms. In 1952 Chief Beaudry convinced the township trustees, after much talking, to buy a rescue squad for the firemen’s use. The men bought an old 1937 LaSalle Ambulance for $150.00 in August, 1952.
In December of 1952 the township trustees presented the men with a shiny new red fire truck for Christmas; a 1952 Ford - American pump - 500 gpm pump, with a 500 gallon tank.
In February, 1953 the fire department moved into the new station at the corner of Oram and Wales Roads. They held a formal dedication of the station in June of 1953.
In mid 1954 the LaSalle ambulance was replaced with a 1947 Cadillac ambulance.
Ross Township’s first fire fatality occurred July 7, 1955 at Woodville and Wales Roads. A truck carrying vitamins ran into the back of an auto carrier. The driver of the vitamin truck was pinned in, the truck caught fire, and the driver burned to death.
Chief Beaudry had a heart attack in May of 1956 and had to give up the full-time chief position. On December 1, 1956 First Assistant Chief C. Rollin Coy was named acting chief and Vernon Beaudry was elevated to advisory chief. On May 11, 1957 C. Rollin Coy was elected chief.
In 1957 the men started fighting for a new tanker and finally in 1958, the township trustees said they would pay for a chassis if the men would buy everything else for the truck (tank, pump, and boosters). They ordered the truck but did not have the money to pay for it yet. So, three of the firemen (James Savage, C. Rollin Coy, and James Baile), re-mortgaged their homes to pay for the equipment to go on the new chassis. The new truck was a 1959 Ford with a 1500 gallon Sutpens tank and a front mount American pump. The men were quickly repaid through moneymaking projects.
In 1963 Ross Township became a village and a village chief, E. Baker, was appointed. C. Rollin Coy was appointed as district chief of the Northwood #2 Fire Station.
The 60’s were bad years for the department, which had been so colorful in the past. Several men resigned and the station almost had to close a couple of times. But the remaining men proved to be quite loyal.
The men of the station purchased a 1960 Pontiac ambulance in 1964 to replace the 1947 Cadillac.
In May of 1975 Village Chief E. Baker retired and on June 1, 1975 Merlin Rolfes, a fireman at Station #2, was appointed as village chief.
February 15, 1976 brought another chief to retirement, District Chief C. Rollin Coy. From February 15 until April 1, 1976 G. Douglas Coy was acting district chief. On April 1, 1976 Marvin Belknap was appointed district chief of Northwood #2 Fire Station.
In August, 1976 Fire Station #2 held their 25th Anniversary, which included a parade and a dance. They called the event “Northwood Days”.
January 8, 1977 saw the second fire fatality at 811 Gould Street. A man was asleep in a bed upstairs when the fire started downstairs. He died of smoke inhalation and never got out of the bedroom. The bedroom floor caved in burying him in the rubble.
In late 1977 the department began to gather its strength and manpower was as it was in the early 1950’s.
In February of 1978 the Mid-States were hit with a blizzard, crippling Northwood and the surrounding area. The men of Fire Station #2 manned the station for five days and nights answering rescue calls on snowmobiles.
On June 16 and 17 of 1978, the Northwood Fire Department hosted the N.O.V.F.A. (Northwest Ohio Volunteer Firemen’s Association) Convention. The yearlong project was outstanding thanks to the men of both Fire Stations #1 and #2.
Editor’s Note: The above information was found on paper while in the process of moving Fire Station #1 from Andrus Road to its new location at 2100 Tracy Road in January, 2006. The above information had no name of who typed it.