“To protect and preserve life while conserving property utilizing specialized skills and compassion,” a rather brief statement for a so large a responsibility, yet the men and women of the Twinsburg and Reminderville Fire Departments take this burden upon themselves anew everyday, regardless of the simplicity or seriousness of the task at hand.
The Twinsburg Fire Department (TFD) can trace its roots back nearly a century to 1919, when the very first members fought smoke and fire with little more than perseverance and a bucket; tough work considering the peril and pay. Four years later, the department acquired its first fire engine, a technological leap over the two-wheeled hand cart it succeeded. Further purchases would follow and the firehouse would move more than once. According to a history of the TFD compiled by retired Fire Chief Daniel J. Simecek (served 1957-1997), the department’s first permanent home was a 10’ x 20’ addition built onto a garage owned by Earl Bowen, who served as Fire Chief from 1927 to 1932, in 1923. From there, they relocated to what is now the VFW Hall in 1939.
Perhaps the most notable move came when, per Chief Simecek, “In 1954 Twinsburg Township passed a bond issue for money for a new fire station. Twenty-one firefighters formed the Twinsburg Land Company and cosigned a loan from Twinsburg Bank and used their summer vacation to build the building on the North side of the VFW Hall. Chief Ray Richner purchased the land and when the building was finished the Township used the bond money to pay off the loan for the land and materials used.” For private individuals to take it upon themselves to take on such a financial burden, even if briefly, would be a tremendous show of responsibility by anyone’s standards.
Between 1955 and 1956, what was once one had quickly become three. The villages of Twinsburg and Reminderville splintered off of Twinsburg Township. To prevent a lapse in coverage and avoid taking on the financial burden of creating their own department, a contract between the Township and Village was agreed upon in which the Township would pay for services rendered. Various levies have been used to pay for these services, although there was a point when the Township sought to fund a completely independent fire department. The rising cost of the yearly contract came to a head in 1978, encouraging the Township to reevaluate their agreement.
Farther north, the newly organized Reminderville Fire Department took control of the Geauga Lake Station, its men, and equipment. As is often the case with any new organization, growing pains are to be expected. William J. Delgado, Reminderville Fire Chief for 17 years, his assistant Joseph W. Algeri Sr., and another firefighter all quit the fire department in the same week in February of 1972. They jointly alleged the burgeoning village had inadequate budget and equipment. The potential inability to continue to keep the village safe, as the population continued to grow, in particular with the addition of Aurora Shores, weighed heavy on the department. At the time of the unrest in the department, the three engines utilized by the department were a 1939 Ford, 1946 Dodge and a truck purchased (and subsequently remodeled) for $150 by the firefighters.
Little has changed since the schism with a few exceptions. Twinsburg Township continues to contract fire and emergency response services out to the city of Twinsburg. According to the documentation provided by the Township, these services are currently paid for with proceeds from two property tax levies and supplemented by EMS billing revenues collected from insurance providers and non-residents. Population growth and urban sprawl did necessitate the construction of a second fire station for the TFD. Station #2 opened on Glenwood Drive in 2007.