The Old Fire Station at Munroe Falls
The first Munroe Falls fire station once stood beside the railroad along State Route 91. It was a brick-faced concrete block building that, in the 1940s, brought the community together during its construction. Volunteer firemen and village residents built the fire station in 1948 on land leased from Munroe Falls Paper Company. The cost of the building was financed through individual loans, donations and a variety of fundraisers.
1948: Desire to provide own fire protection
The idea that the village could provide its own fire protection originated at a public meeting held at the Town Hall on April 8, 1948. Residents were protesting the high-cost fire coverage provided by Stow Township and thinking about starting their own fire protection program instead of depending on other communities for this service.
Mayor Monroe Carpenter and Village Council members recognized that the village did not have the finances to start its own fire department. After a lengthy discussion, residents decided to go ahead with their own fire protection project to see if it could be accomplished on a strictly volunteer basis.
A fire associated is organized
As a result of the public meeting, approximately 50 men volunteered for active duty as fire fighters. They formed an organization they called the Munroe Falls Social Club, but later changed the name to the Munroe Falls Fire Association. The firemen met weekly for training. They formulated plans to build a fire station and equip it with a pumper and firefighting equipment.
Soon after the firemen’s association was organized, they started a number of fundraising projects. They sponsored:
Scrap iron drives
Firemen campaigned door to door to get residents and businesses to donate to the fire station building fund. A poster was placed in the Village Hall for donors to sign up to buy concrete blocks at a cost of 25 cents each.
The ladies auxiliary
Auxiliary members drafted a constitution and by-laws and opened membership to all ladies in the Village. They provided assistance to fire victims, held fundraiser card parties, conducted rummage sales, and sponsored benefit dinners. Proceeds from their fund raiser events were turned over to the Fire Association.
By July 1948, enough funds were acquired to begin building the fire station. Most building supplies were purchased at Harold Bond’s Coal and Supply Company across the street from the building site. Volunteers worked side by side the next six months to complete the shell of the building before winter. The last few cement blocks were laid when it was snowing.
The workers who built the fire station had their own song. The words to well-known tune, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, All the Live Long Day,” were changed to “I’ve Been Working on the Firehouse, the Fondest of My Dreams.”
1949-Early 1950s: Finishing of fire station
The finishing of the inside of the fire station progressed more slowly. John Renner, owner of Munroe Falls Swim Park, generously provided the fire station with an oil heater, hot water tank, rest room, sink, dishes and chairs.
By the summer of 1949, the fire station was ready for occupancy. Unfortunately, building costs consumed the funds as fast as they were donated, and the firemen had little money left to buy equipment.
Since Munroe Falls had no water lines, and well water was the source of water for homes during that time, firemen had to procure some type of a tank to transport water taken from the river to burning structures. Paper Mill Manager Jack Noll arranged for the purchase of an oil-carrying truck at a very reasonable cost from the Standard Oil Company. The tanker was converted into a water tank by Bob Cooper, the Village Smithy. Four hoses at one time could be attached to the water manifold. Water to fill the tanker truck was pumped from the Cuyahoga River.
A used fire truck was purchased from Coventry Fire Department. The cost was underwritten by three members of the fire association who signed notes for the truck, 1,100 feet of house, a fire siren, two nozzles, a “Y” connection and a portable pump – totaling approximately $4,000.
There was no tax levy for fire protection in Munroe Falls during those early years and fire protection was free. This was due in part to the diligent fundraising efforts of the Ladies Auxiliary. By 1952, the fire station debt was paid off, and a mortgage burning party was held on May 10 of that year.
Serving a growing community
The fire station not only housed firefighting equipment, but also functioned as a meeting room. At election time, the lower floor of the fire station was used for voting. Fish frys were held there on a regular basis, and turkey shoots tool place on back of the station.
The Village was growing rapidly, and so had its needs. Residents and businesses were again solicited for funds, this time to purchase a new fire truck. Within a month, more than $1,500 in cash and $2,000 in pledges had been collected.
Mid-1950s-1960s: Part of village government
By July 1955, the Fire Association had collected enough money to buy an American LaFrance Pumper at a cost of $8,300. It was delivered five months later. An open house was held at the fire station on January 23, 1956, to view the new truck. However, fundraising did not stop with delivery of the new truck; a debt of $2,400 still needed to be paid off.
The 1950s and early 1960s brought about changes in the Village. New housing developments multiplied the number of residents served by the Fire Association, and additional fire fighting equipment was needed. A new jeep pumper for grassfires was purchased in 1963 and another American LaFrance Pumper was acquired four years later.
In 1967, the Fire Association contracted with Munroe Falls Village in the amount of $7,200 for fire protection. However, Village firemen served in a volunteer capacity and worked without pay. It wasn’t until 1970, when Munroe Falls Fire Association finally became a part of Village government, that firefighters were paid.
1970s: Needs of community change
The old fire station was in use until 1974 when a new fire station, part of a $175,000 safety complex, was built on Munroe Falls Avenue behind Town Hall. The new building was dedicated October 6, 1974.
The new facility had two-and-a-half engine bays, an all-purpose room, sleeping quarters, a meeting room, a workshop room for equipment repair, and a 30-foot-high hose tower. There was no fire siren the safety building, so the Department used the siren at the old fire station.
Fire Chief Rush assumed that the old fire station would be demolished and the land turned over to Sonoco Products. The was preserved because it was thought that the department might want to house one vehicle there since the building was located on the other side of the railroad tracks.
1980-90s: A new use for the old fire station
In 1982, Dunn-Quigley and Ciriello Funeral Home and Ambulance Company opened a full paramedic service at the old fire station. In addition to serving Munroe Falls, Dunn-Quigley also served Tallmadge, eastern Cuyahoga Falls, Stow, and Silver Lake.
A 10-year lease was negotiated between Munroe Falls Fire Association, owners of the building and Dunn-Quigley. At the same time, the Fire Association signed a 10-year lease with Sunoco Products for use of the land where the building was located.
Renovations to the structure by Dunn-Quigley included a new roof, new doors and interior remodeling. The exterior of the fire station was painted brick red with earth-tone trim to return the building to its original appearance.
When the EMS contract with Dunn Quigley expired in 1991, Care Ambulance Paramedics became the new provider. Care Ambulance occupied the old fire station for the next eight years.
2000s: Changes lead to an idle fire station
On January 1, 2000, the city turned over the community’s EMS service to the Munroe Falls Fire Department. A plan was introduced to spend $15,000 to $30,000 to update the old fire station.
An alternate plan was proposed to build a new fire station capable of housing both fire and emergency vehicles. The building would be situated on a city-owned site on State Route 91 north of the river and railroad tracks.
After intensive deliberation, members of City Council approved the proposal to construct a new fire and emergency facility, in lieu of refurbishing the old fire station the railroad. Munroe Falls Fire Department Station #2 was dedicated on September 29, 2001.
No longer in use, the old Munroe Falls fire station sat idle for years. It was razed by the City of Munroe Falls on July 16, 2008. But the story of the commitment of its community to provide residents with needed fire coverage lives on.
Content taken from “The Old Fire Station at Munroe Falls” booklet, compiled by Marilyn R. Low, 2002. Copies of booklet are available at the Munroe Falls Historical Society and include complete lyrics to the “Song of Munroe Falls Fire Station Workers.”
Firemen discuss plans for May 10, 1952, mortgage burning event. (Front Row: L to R) Daniel Dove, president of the Munroe Falls Fire Association; Ernest Lawrentz, treasurer; and Jack Noll, paper mill manager. (Back Row: L to R) Assistant Chief Albert Brick, Chief Fred Drayer, and Carl S. Donaldson, secretary.
Burning of fire station mortgage (pic) L to R: Danial Dove, Mayor Henry M Wright, Margaret Donaldson, Carl Donaldson, Raymond Rorabaugh and Virginia Dove
The Munroe Falls Ladies Auxiliary