Reflections: Cardington Fire Department’s 144 years


By Evelyn Long - Contributing Columnist

Winding up every parade in Cardington are the village’s fire department trucks and EMS vehicle. It’s with a sense of pride and comfort they are viewed in appreciation of their life saving roles in times of fire and/or other tragedies.

Morrow County has five village fire departments, each with modern equipment and trained competent people whose purpose is to keep us safe.

Being from Cardington, I am focusing on its fire department this week. Although the village was founded in 1836, it wasn’t until 38 years later that a fire department was organized.

It may have been because the village was surrounded by water, what is now the town square was a swamp and there was a mill race and river running along the north side. In addition, for the first 50 years of its history, the entire town’s fire loss was about $7,000.

In 1874 a series of fires destroyed three store houses, a store and the bank, incurring a loss of $8,000 with the fires being kept from spreading by departments from nearby villages. It was then they decided to organize a fire department.

The town purchased a No. 3 Selsby fire engine for $200 with two hose reels and 1,200 feet of rubber hose at a cost of $6,000. An additional $300 purchased a hook and ladder truck. The volunteer company was huge, with 15 men on the engine company, two reel companies of 15 men each and hook and ladder company of 30 men.

J. S. Peck became the first of only five men to be fire chief. There were four drills a year and each was paid $1 a drill. Members were also paid 50 cents an hour to fight fires and the chief, 75 cents. The hose company was paid $5 to clean up after a fire and the engineer received $50 per year.

The machine was not moved from the building. In order to protect the town’s business district, a tank under the engine supplied water from the mill race There were also fire cisterns or wells supplying water for the fire department in various places around town.

Many of them are still there. A lengthy supply of hose could reach all business places in town from the engine in the fire house. The fire house stood alongside the mill race on what today is the parking lot behind the Morrow County Hospital’s Primary Care Center. It was used until 1962 when the new fire house was built on Park Street.

More next week on the development of the Cardington Fire Department.

70 years ago, April, 1948: Lt. John E. Vaughan’s funeral was held on April 15 at the home of his mother, Mrs. Ivah Vaughan, South Marion Street, Cardington. His plane was shot down over France on April 20, 1944. He was the first Cardington High School graduate and the first Morrow County Airman killed in action in WW II and was the first Morrow County soldier from the war to be buried in his native county.

50 years ago, April 1968: Cardington council authorized the organization of an auxiliary police force. Eight men would be trained under Robert Dodds, Cardington Marshal. Declared to be the work of professionals, the safe in the new Cardington-Lincoln High School was blown open by the use of electric blasting caps one weekend. About $1,000 in checks and cash were stolen.

Jodene Ocker and Bert Treadway, elementary students, were first place winners in the Cardington swimming pool poster contest. They received season tickets to the pool. Second prize winners were Lori McClenathan and Scott Waddell.

By Evelyn Long

Contributing Columnist

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