History of the Department
The Cedarville Township Volunteer Fire Department was founded before the Civil War in 1851. It was a proud group of volunteers eager to serve their community. At the time there were approximately 2500 residents of the Cedarville Township area and more settlers were moving in constantly. The Fire Department originally used a horse-drawn engine purchased by private individuals in the early 1850's. At this time the department was called the "Neptune Fire Company." In 1886, the fire company acquired a steamer to add to their equipment. Both the horse-drawn engine and steamer faithfully served the Neptune Fire Company and Cedarville Township until 1916 when they were replaced.
The early volunteers not only served the community as firemen, but also competed in various state contests testing and showing off their skills as firefighters. They competed against various fire companies from around the state. Many times the Neptune Fire Company won these competitions. One such time in 1887 the men of Cedarville won the fireman contest and triumphantly returned back to town. Ironically within days of returning, the early Cedarville volunteers were called to a fire that destroyed the town's beloved opera house.
In April 1939, the Fire Department purchased an open cab, motor powered engine. Though primitive by today's standards, this truck was state of the art in its day. Equipped with hoses and ladders this red with chrome trimmed pumper served Cedarville well. Around this time the name of the department was changed from Neptune Fire Company to Cedarville Fire Department.
In the 1940's fire department was divided into two separate departments; one serving the village and one serving the township - each with their own engine. The village had a 1937 open-cab pumper while the township had a later model closed-cab engine. The departments ran like this for several years under the service of Chief Loyd Confarr. In 1947, the village and township departments were combined and were housed in the township garage located on E. Xenia Ave behind the opera house. At the time, there was no tax levy to fund the building so the fire house was built by the 25-30 volunteer members of the fire department.
During this period alarms were announced by the fire horn or telephone. Emergency phone calls were directed to a designated person's home who would then activate the fire siren to alert village volunteers. The siren was located on the top of the opera house where it was installed shortly after World War II. For those that lived in the township the fire department had a different and innovative way for alerting volunteers. The township was divided into four quadrants each with a lieutenant. The lieutenant would be notified of any emergencies in his quadrant and he in turn would notify the volunteers in his section. Upon receiving a call those that were available would scramble to the station where they would climb on a piece of equipment and rush to the scene. The rest of the available volunteers would respond directly to the scene.
In the late 40's the Cedarville Fire Department began to provide Emergency First Aid, but only as needed. In 1946, one of their trucks was converted so as to carry supplies to care for injuries. The first official ambulance purchased by the department was a Cadillac - similar to a hearse. The fire department provided in-house first aid training, but no state certification was needed to operate on the ambulance. During this period from the 1940's to the 1960's the department purchased two tankers and a brush truck. One of the tankers, which was white, was used by the Cedarville Fire Department until 2003 when it was sold to another department in Ohio. Early in its service, volunteers were found to be driving it too fast making it unstable around corners. Therefore this tanker was governed to prevent the lead footed firemen from wrecking it.
During the 1960's, several major fires occurred which destroyed a few buildings in town and kept the Cedarville Township Volunteer Fire Department busy. In 1961, Chief Earl Chaplain was helping his son on a paper route early on a Sunday morning when he noticed smoke coming from the eaves of the Bird Variety Store. This shop was located downtown Cedarville across from the Opera House. Chaplain immediately ran over to the fire house, called the alarm and responded the engine around the corner to the fire. By the time the volunteers arrived clad in their rubber bunker gear, Earl Chaplain was already flowing water into the burning building. Volunteers climbed on nearby buildings to get access to this two story building. The Clifton Fire Department was called to supply water. In the end, the Bird Variety Store was completely destroyed.
Several years later in June of 1965 a fire swept through Rife Hall, a men's dormitory on the campus of Cedarville University. Around 3:30 AM a man driving home from work discovered the fire and notified the fire department. 35 volunteer firefighters arrived on the scene to battle the blaze that destroyed the house.
Two years later in May of 1967, the fire department responded to a barn fire at the Thordsen farm. The call was received at 3:50 AM. The Jamestown and Clifton Fire Departments were called to assist the Cedarville Fire Department. Firemen battled the blaze all night and finally left around 7:30 AM leaving behind the smoldering remains of several buildings on the farm. The fire was determined to have been started by heat lamps used in the barn.
In the 1970's the method of alert drastically changed when the fire department switched over to being activated by a local dispatcher over the radio. This transition was tough early on, but gradually the difficulties were overcome. At times the early dispatchers would become overwhelmed by their new duties so Chief Bob Guthrie would assist as needed in dispatching calls for Cedarville.
Early in the 70's the Cedarville Fire Department acquired a white pumper to replace its older counterpart. Along with the change in dispatch method, sweeping changes were modifying EMS care. In the 1970's, EMTs began to become registered with the State of Ohio. The original Cadillac was replaced by a newer and roomier ambulance. Later in the 1970's, the state began offering paramedic training for those who desired to provide EMS care.
By 1975, plans were underway for for moving the fire house from its location on E. Xenia Ave. to its current location on corner of East St. and US Route 42. By 1976 the new station was completed and ready for the arrival of the fire department vehicles. This new station proved to offer more room and was a nice addition for the Cedarville Township Volunteer Fire Department. About this time the department acquired a new engine for their new station.
As the decade wore on, life at the fire department was business as usual. Members continued to develop their EMS skills and capabilities. In 1980, CTVFD acquired a new engine to replace the older one. Almost two decades later and under a mostly new group of volunteers, the Cedarville Fire Department purchased a new 1999, state of the art, Pierce engine.
The Cedarville fire department continues its legacy of heroism and service started over a century ago by a few rag-tag men committed to risking all to serve their fellow citizens. Today, the fire department is run by a new set of men and women who are just as eager and just as willing to volunteer of their time and talents to protect and serve the village of Cedarville and its surrounding community.
Hall of Chiefs
Earl Chaplin (1953 - 1962)
Robert "Bob" Dennehey (1963 - 1968)
Robert "Bob" Guthrie (1969 - 1980)
Robert Smith (1981 - 1984)
Donald "Scott" Baldwin (1985 - 2016)
Kyle Miller (2017 - )