Yesterday’s path of dedication to
today’s premier public service.
The Loveland-Symmes Fire Department has a rich and varied history in the fire service. Dating back to it’s beginnings in the late 1800′s the department has experienced a wealth of changes throughout its long heritage.
On February 12, 1876, approximately 85 residents of Clermont County petitioned to have about 800 acres incorporated into a village. Originally settled by Thomas Paxton in 1795, the newly incorporated village was named after the town’s original postmaster, James Loveland. Soon after incorporation, village residents recognized the need for fire protection. On August 12, 1877, two sets of ladders and 36 rubber buckets were purchased and a group of village residents were appointed to oversee and use the equipment. One ladder and 18 buckets were placed on Jackson Street (present-day Loveland Avenue) and the other ladder & 18 buckets on Broadway Street. Although no record clearly shows a specific name, the group of residents that provided Loveland’s first fire protection was commonly referred to as the “Ladder & Bucket Brigade”. The “Ladder and Bucket Brigade” obtained water for firefighting from eight fire cisterns located throughout the village. These cisterns were all operated with wooden hand pumps.
As Loveland grew, so did the need for better fire equipment. Requests by citizens and businesses prompted Loveland to purchase a hand-drawn, hand-powered pumping unit. Purchased from “Rumsley & Company” in Seneca, New York, this unit was also equipped with 200 feet of fire hose. However, soon after its arrival in Loveland, the “Ladder and Bucket Brigade” came to the realization that this unit was impractical and it was soon returned to the manufacturer.
Shortly thereafter, a committee was established and sent to Cincinnati to look at steam powered equipment. A rebuilt, horse drawn steam pumper (pictured right) equipped with a hose reel was purchased from the “Ahrens Fox Company”, a Cincinnati based fire engine manufacturer. The Loveland-Symmes Fire Department still owns the steamer today. It resides in the bay at Station 63 located at the corner of East Loveland Avenue and Second Street. It can easily be seen through the bay windows while sitting at the traffic light on North Second Street.
Loveland’s first official “fire department” was established in March of 1885 under the direction of Chief Archibald B. Brock. Known as the “Miami Steam Fire Company”, the department was led by Chief Brock until 1895. In 1886 due to a lack of funds from the village council, “Miami Steam Fire Company” members made a deal with a local blacksmith to build a ladder wagon. The money was raised solely by the firemen to purchase this unit. Shortly after that, firefighters were outfitted with rubber coats & boots and more hose and a hose wagon were acquired.
A shortage of funds to purchase apparatus was not the only challenge that faced the newly established fire company. With every piece of equipment (except the hose reel) being horse drawn, the fire company needed horses to pull their apparatus to a fire. Unfortunately, the village council also made it clear that Loveland was unable to purchase horses for the fire company. Fortunately, local merchants came to the rescue. A deal was struck between the village and local merchants where the village agreed to pay any merchant that responded to a fire alarm with the merchant’s team of horses to pull the apparatus to the fire. Two of the horses used, which were owned by the L.W. Nisbet Company, were named “Old Dan” & “Joe”.
During this period, firefighters were summoned to the fire station for the report of a fire by a large bell that was taken from the “Reuben Springer” steam boat. The bell was acquired from a local resident, who had spent time serving as a riverboat captain. This bell, which currently sits atop of the Loveland Firefighter’s Memorial, served as the call to the firemen until 1934 when it was replaced by a electronic siren that was operated by phone from any one of four different firefighter’s homes.
Throughout the era of prohibition, illicit liquor traffic was extremely prevalent in Loveland. In response to this, the village council established “Liquor Court.” Fines earned in “Liquor Court” were used to purchase new fire fighting equipment. In 1921, Loveland purchased its first motorized fire truck (shown below). The Bierderman-manufactured fire truck was equipped with a 350-gallon per minute pump and two chemical tanks mounted on solid rubber tires. This truck served the community well until 1929 when Loveland purchased two trucks from the Prospect Fire Engine Company located in Prospect, Ohio.
In 1928, the department became known as the “Loveland Fire Department.” Upon the retirement of Chief Liebold, Laurence Brock assumed the duties of fire chief. Being the grandson of Loveland’s first chief, Archibald Brock, and serving with his uncle “Chic” Brock, firefighting was definitely in Laurence Brock’s blood. During his five years as the fire chief, Chief Brock was able to get firefighters on the village payroll for the first time. The firefighters received $2.00 per call.
About a decade later, then-Mayor Cutler made the decision to forbid the “Loveland Fire Department” to respond to fires located outside the village limits, citing a lack of funds. A large fire occurred on Loveland-Miamiville Road (outside of the village) soon after and the firefighters went to help out anyway, despite knowing that they would be facing punishment upon their return. With the help of attorney John Undercoffer, the membership of the “Loveland Fire Department” formed the “Loveland Community Fire Department” on March 6, 1938. If they wished, members of the village-operated “Loveland Fire Department” were automatically counted in the membership of the “Loveland Community Fire Department.” The members were paid for fires they responded to in the village of Loveland while fires that were made with the Community Fire Department were done without compensation.
The Loveland Community and Loveland Village Fire Departments worked together to protect Loveland and its surrounding communities for years. However, in 1967 it was recommended that the City Fire Department (formerly the Village Fire Department) be disbanded. By 1971, the Loveland Community Fire Department took over fire protection duties for the city of Loveland while still providing service to neighboring towns that needed additional help.
In 1972, a major fire destroyed Loveland City Hall which was located on the present site of Station 63 on the corner of East Loveland Avenue and Second Street. The Loveland Fire and Police Departments were also housed in this building, which was deemed a total loss. This event forced the fire department to rebuild from the ground up. Our department forefathers rebounded from this adversity strongly and we are extremely proud of the department that we have today.
Loveland firefighters have always shown great concern for their neighbors. This is still evident today as we currently provide fire and EMS services for the City of Loveland and Symmes Township. In 1989, the “Loveland Community Fire Department” took over fire protection for Symmes Township and became known as the “Loveland Symmes Fire Department.” We currently operate as a private fire company, governed by the LSFD Board of Directors, that contracts fire and EMS services to Loveland and Symmes Township. We operate four fire stations (two in Loveland & two in Symmes Township) that are staffed with firefighter/paramedics 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Today we continue to carry out the mission established by our long and varied history: to provide YOU, our customers, with service you can count on.
For more history on Loveland check out: http://www.lovelandmuseum.org
For more history on Symmes Township check out: http://www.symmeshistoricalsociety.com