Reflections: Cardington Fire Department: The rest of the story


By Evelyn Long - Contributing Columnist

Last week I shared, in the first of a two-part series, the history of the Cardington Fire Department, which organized in 1874.

The fire house stood just above the mill race (now the parking lot behind Morrow County Hospital’s Primary Care Center) and it was thought the water from this source was inexhaustible.

It was not until 1896 that the department acquired its first real fire engine, fired with wood and pumped by steam. Their equipment was a pumper hose cart and the hook and ladder cart.

Harley Singer ran the livery which furnished the horses to pull the steamer to the wells. The team was so well trained it was said all the men had to do was untie them when the bell rang and the horses would go to the pumper in their place and all the men had to do was drop the harnesses and tighten the strap and they were ready to go. Later, for many years a siren, attached to the water tower, signaled a fire in the area.

The department functioned from its Mill Race site until 1963 when the new three-bay fire house was built on Park Avenue at a cost of $15,000. Leonard Benson was chief. They also acquired during Benson’s tenure two pumpers, a 1962 and a 1971 model.

Some improvements were made to the fire house in 1968 and in 1981 it suffered heavy damage in the tornado which also destroyed the original fire house by the mill race. The current fire house with six bays and a meeting room also houses the Emergency Squad vehicle, and village and police offices.

The Cardington Fire Department is also responsible for Lincoln Township and each entity is funded by a levy. The department has 20 volunteers and all must take updated training classes. A potential member must be 18 years old.

Today, the department has two engines, one tanker, one brush truck and a utility vehicle.

There have been seven fire chiefs including presently Gary Goodman, in the 144-year history of the department. They are J. S. Peck, Charles Earl, Ed Pick, Ralph (Sandy) Sanderson (served 51 years) Leonard Benson (17 years) Jim Ullom (37 years) and Goodman, who became chief in 2013. Goodman joined the department five months after high school graduation in 1981.

Some of the more tragic fires in the history of the department include the Slicer Livery, the Gandee Bakery and the Glove Factory. There have been several fires that resulted in fatalities. The department also saw extra duty during the 1964 oil boom and the 1981 tornado.

The Cardington Fire Department has come a long way since 1874 but its purpose remains the same as it was then, protection of its citizens and we are grateful to these dedicated personnel.

70 years ago, April, 1948: Coach Dennis Bell presented awards during the Athletic banquet held at the Cardington School. Awards for all sports were made. Dewey Yake was elected honorary captain of the basketball team for the 1948 season.

Beverly Worster of Iberia won the county and district title in the FFA Public Speaking contest. His subject was “Soil Conservation in Morrow County.”

60 years ago, April, 1958: A photograph of the log cabin in the Cardington Park was to appear in the May issue of the Rotarian magazine. The cabin had been recently reconditioned under super vision of the Rotary Club.

50 years ago, April, 1968: The Cardington Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) was reactivated. Officers elected were Bob Akron, president; William Johnstone, vice president; Cecil Maxwell, secretary; Jack Wilhelm, treasurer and Walter Long, executive director.

Members of the Cardington Volunteer Fire Department placed into use a new hose drying machine and a pressure hose washer.

By Evelyn Long

Contributing Columnist

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