Clinton Twp. fire dept. marks 50th anniversary

People gathered Sunday afternoon to celebrate Clinton Township Volunteer Fire Department’s 50 years of existence.

The celebration was at the department’s main station on SR 101. The department, which has 39 members, including 31 who are active, has another station at US 224 and SR 100.

“The strongest thing in any community is the volunteer fire department, by far,” said Harry Burdick, a Marion resident who helped organize the department 50 years ago.

The celebration included food, fire hats for children, a video presentation and fire extinguisher and uniform displays. There also was a display about a potential new fire station that would be located at the site of the main station on SR 101. People were surveyed about their opinions.

Chief Fred Bishop said the process probably would move further if taxpayers supported the idea. It could be funded through a tax on the ballot, and officials also are exploring grants. A new station would be a great dream come true, he said.

“We’ll see,” he said.

During a presentation, Burdick read the roster from the department from March 27, 1963. He told the firefighters they are the backbone of the community.

“Don’t become a statistic,” he said. “Do it right the first time.”

After the program, Burdick said he was the fire chief in Margaretta Township in Castalia when he organized the department under the state’s trade and industrial education program. The process started in March 1963 and ended three months later.

Burdick said starting the department was not much of a challenge because the officials were dedicated and were interested in not only getting the department started, but getting it started in the right direction. The department had 28 firefighters when it was founded.

When the firefighters found something they wanted the department to have but could not afford it, somebody knew how to build it, he said.

“They would build it themselves,” he said.

Burdick said the training experience was humanity at its best, and the same enthusiasm remains 50 years later. He said he has a huge extended family because of the relationships he has built, and being at Sunday’s celebration was like being at home.

During the program, Marvin Gooding and Don Bishop, who were on the department when it was founded and remain involved, were honored.

Gooding, who turns 84 today, said when the department started, it was the only one in Ohio to have white fire trucks, unheard of at the time. The white trucks were a preference of George Koehl, the department’s first chief.

“He never really told us why,” Gooding said.

During the celebration, firefighters unearthed a 25-year-old time capsule buried in front of the station. It contained a hat, magazines, a Bible, paperwork, photographs, a St. Joseph Catholic Church bulletin, a newspaper, money, a troop roster, a business card and patches.

The capsule had been buried by the department’s Boy Scout Troop No. 499, and current members of the troop attended the celebration and examined its contents.

Also during the celebration, children could practice using a fire extinguisher to douse flames. Troy Shook, 5, said he sprayed the fire and pressed the fire extinguisher. He said he got a fire hat during the event.

“It’s red,” he said.