LAKEMORE The Lakemore Fire Department held a Community Day celebration July 27 to celebrate its years of serving the village.
It was a fun day for all starting at 11 a.m. A large crowd enjoyed firefighter-cooked hotdogs and hamburgers. Drinks were plentiful and the kids, and big kids, were seen enjoying cotton candy.
One of the most popular things to do at the Community Day was the bouncy house. Kids lined up to take their turn. Adults and children alike were getting their favorite symbol or character at the face painting booth. Out back of the fire station was another popular event – the sprinkler was on for all the kids to run through.
The fire vehicles were pulled out of the bays and kids and adults were able to climb in and see what it was like to be in the big red trucks from the view of a firemen.
It was obvious that firefighters were having fun and were enjoying feeding the community and interacting with villagers.
Originally, the idea of the community event was to celebrate the department’s 80th year of serving the village. Chief Brett Reinbolt said it tuns out that it really wasn’t the department’s 80th year. Due to new uniform patches made years ago, they thought the department began in 1939. However, through Reinbolt researching into the history of the department, it was found that the Lakemore Fire Department was formed in 1921, making it the department’s 98th year. It was exciting news to the firefighters as the 100th anniversary of the department serving the community will be in two years.
The chief said it has been a good year for the department and it was very fortunate this year to receive grants for two new chase cars. One is in use and the other was delivered following the community event. The cars are used for the chief’s transportation and one for the shift supervisor so he can get to an emergency situation and, when not needed, can get back to man the station. He said the cars will last them 15 years.
Former Fire Chief C.C. Bittner had history to share of the department. He said the department began as all volunteer. It didn’t have money or much equipment. Through the course of hard work of a lot of people and all the volunteers throughout the years, the department developed.
In the early 70s, the department got into the ambulance business. Bittner said in 1964 it ran 27 fire calls. The year after getting into having the ambulances, “Our call volume quadrupled. It was a fire based free ambulance service that the taxpayers supported," Bittner said.
The volunteer department had to keep up with the demands of the people.
Eventually, Lakemore annexed the Springfield High School and Edwin Shaw Hospital properties and the calls continued to rapidly increase. It was one of the biggest turning points of the department. Bittner knew that the Springfield department was running calls several times a day to the hospital. Once Lakemore acquired the hospital property, Bittner approached the mayor and said his full-time job as a mechanic for Buick was suffering as he was running back to Lakemore several times a day to make the decisions for the department.
“We had good volunteers but, somebody needed to be available to make decisions," Bittner said. "Most of the guys we had just wanted to help the village the best they could without being a part of any of the finances, purchasing, etc."
In 1992, Bittner gave the mayor a five-page report of why the village needed a paid, staffed Fire Department. The mayor, at the time, did not realize what all Bittner did as volunteer chief. In 1992, Bittner was offered a full-time position as fire chief of the village. He retired in 2008 and still helps when needed.
He said being a full-time fire chief gave him the opportunity to acquire grants to buy equipment, staff the station and other needed essentials.
Throughout the years, the local departments worked together to set up their equipment to be the same so they could support each other when providing mutual aid. Bittner said a firefighter or paramedic could grab a heart bag from Coventry, Springfield, Mogadore or another surrounding community and it would be the same and in the same place. They created a better working relationship with communities around them. They have done things collectively, including training and working for grants.
Bittner said throughout the years, the department has had chief’s that have left the village Fire Department in better shape than when they began, each doing things to make it better.
Reinbolt said it was a great turn out for the Community Day. Businesses in the community were generous in donating food items for the event. He said they always enjoy doing these types of things with the community.