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THE HISTORY OF THE PERRYSBURG TOWNSHIP FIRE DEPARTMENT

By: Thomas W. Brice, Fire Chief

In 1960 the Perrysburg Township Trustees formed a committee of seven citizens to study the need for fire protection in the Township. As a result of the committee’s recommendations, the Trustees decided to establish Perrysburg Township Fire District No. 1, which included the entire Township except for the Village of Perrysburg. Further, the committee recommended the station location be in the Lime City area to best serve the residents of Perrysburg Township. 

Subsequently the following occurred:

  • A ½ mil operating levy was approved by the voters on November 8, 1960, to finance the operations of the Department and it passed with a 1,518 to 814 vote.  
  • On May 15, 1961, the Perrysburg Township Board of Trustees appointed Clamer J. Goeke as the Fire Chief of Perrysburg Township.

The department began responding to calls in 1962 after the new volunteer firefighters received basic fire training. 

When the Perrysburg Township Fire Department was created, patient transport was handled by the Witzler Shank Funeral Home. During this era it was common for the funeral homes to also handle the ambulance service for the community that they served. In the mid-1970s, Witzler Shank chose to abandon the ambulance business.   This coupled with an increasing number of rescue runs, greater training requirements for pre-hospital care providers, and technological advances in pre-hospital care lead to the creation of Perrysburg Township Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in 1976.

A division of the Perrysburg Township Fire Department, the EMS Department was staffed by volunteer firefighters who were cross-trained as emergency medical technicians.  The EMS personnel were on call for six-hour shifts and dispatched via fire phones. When requested they responded to the station to get the ambulance and take it to the scene. With better training and dedicated personnel, response times decreased, and patient care was greatly enhanced.

In the 1980s advances in pre-hospital care and the need to decrease response times even further led the Perrysburg Township Board of Trustees to make a key decision in the history of the Department. They voted to place a levy request on the ballot to hire full-time EMS personnel. 

  • In November 1987 the decision to become a full-time EMS Department was left to the residents of Perrysburg Township to decide. o A new levy was approved in that election, with 99 percent voting in the affirmative.
  • In 1988, EMS went full time and in reflection of the vote, the life squad’s unit number was changed from 529 to 99.
  • Each shift had one Advanced-EMT and one Paramedic, both cross-trained as firefighters. Their quarters were in the back section of the Perrysburg Township Police Department.

The citizens of Perrysburg Township now had an EMS service that could respond to any area location in minutes and was considered one of the most progressive EMS systems in Ohio. Perrysburg Township EMS was one of the first services in Northwest Ohio to have transcutaneous pacing, pulse-oximetry, in-field 12-lead EKGs, and the first EMS in Northwest Ohio to start computer generating run reports.

The next two decades brought many changes to the Fire and EMS Departments.

  • On November 3, 1997, Perrysburg Township hired seven additional firefighters to staff the fire station located at 26609 Lime City Road around the clock.
  • In January 2004 fire personnel and EMS personnel were cross-trained and the two departments combined under one roof in the station located at 26609 Lime City Road with minimum staffing of four personnel.
  • In the spring of 2008 construction was started on a new 30,000-square-foot Safety Services Building located at 26711 Lime City Road. The project was completed, and occupancy was taken in late June 2009.
  • In 2018 the Department applied for a grant thru the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) known as Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER). This grant was awarded to the Department on August 24, 2018. This grant allowed the Department to hire three additional firefighter/EMTs. The additional personnel were hired at the start of 2019 and brought the minimum staffing up to five personnel.
  • In 2021 we applied for a second SAFER grant for two additional personnel. This grant was unfortunately turned down. However, do to the increased call volume and demands of COIVD-19 the Trustees moved forward without the grant funding and hired three additional personnel who joined the team at the start of 2022. This brought the Department’s minimum staffing to six.

Currently, the Perrysburg Township Fire Department covers approximately thirty-six square miles which include: industrial, residential, and rural areas. The Department is staffed with 24 full-time personnel and eleven part-time personnel. The full-time staff includes one fire chief, one deputy chief, one fire inspector, and twenty-one firefighter/EMTs. 

The line personnel is divided into three shifts (A, B, and C). Each shift is staffed with a minimum of six personnel, and there is the seventh spot for a part-time person. The Department is currently handling over 2000 calls for service each year. 80% of these calls are for Emergency Medical Services and the remaining 20% are for fire-related calls.

The Lime City Road Station (known as “Station #74) is equipped with three engines, one ladder truck, one heavy rescue, one tanker/pumper, one brush truck, two boats, three advanced life support medic units, four administrative/light rescues, one mass casualty trailer, and two fire safety trailers. In addition, the Department still maintains its original 1961 pumper.

PERRYSBURG TOWNSHIP FIRE DEPARTMENT DIVISON OF EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES

By:  Thomas W. Brice, Fire Chief

Perrysburg Township began providing emergency medical services (EMS) in 1976 after Witzler-Shank Funeral Home decided to get out of the ambulance business.  In this era, it was common for funeral homes to also run the ambulance service in the communities that they served.  When the Fire Department began providing EMS services it cross-trained firefighters to be on-call to staff the ambulance when needed.  At that time members signed up for six-hour shifts and were dispatched via fire phones. 

When they received a call, they would come to the station to pick up the ambulance, and then they would respond to the scene.  As the call volume continued to increase along with the technology available in the prehospital environment there became a need for more highly trained personnel to be available 24/7/365.  Along with these concerns the size of the Township, there was a need to decrease response times by having personnel on the station rather than responding from home.  

In November of 1987, the Perrysburg Township Board of Trustees voted to place a 0.5 mil levy on the ballot to put hire full-time personnel to staff the ambulance around the clock.  The levy was passed with overwhelming support from the citizens of Perrysburg Township with 99% of the residents voting in favor of the levy.  In recognition of that support, the ambulance’s unit number was changed from “529” to “99”.   

The Life Squad was staffed by one paramedic and one advanced EMT who were both cross-trained as firefighters.  The EMS service was staffed by two people 24/7/365.  At that time although a division of the fire department was in a separate building behind the police station.  They had one bay for the ambulance, a small office for the EMS Director, a kitchen, a small dayroom filled with heavily used donated furniture, and two tiny bedrooms that were barely big enough to fit the bed. 

For whatever reason, the beds were water beds.  The crews would work 24 hours on-duty and 48 hours off-duty.   Perrysburg Township quickly established a reputation for being one of the most progressive EMS systems in the area.  Perrysburg Township had many firsts for the region which included:  pre-hospital transcutaneous pacing, pulse oximetry, 12-Lead ECGs, and C-Spine clearance to name a few.  

As call volume continued to grow a second ambulance was purchased and the older of the two ambulances was kept over at the fire department on Lime City Road.  The ambulance is known by the call sign “529” which was primarily staffed by the volunteer firefighters who would come from home to operate it.  It was not unusual for it to take ten minutes for this truck to get out the door due to the staffing delay.  

In 199? An addition was added to the EMS station which added a large storage room off the office and two additional apparatus bays.  The two additional bays allowed for the backup ambulance (“529”) to be stored in the same building as the other ambulance.  The third bay allowed for indoor storage of the EMS Director’s Echo unit which went by a variety of call signs over the year to include “9902” and “530”.

In 1997 the Perrysburg Township Board of Trustees put a levy on the ballot to add two full-time firefighters to the daily staffing.  These two individuals were also cross-trained as EMT-Basics.  Their addition allowed for much more rapid deployment of the backup ambulance (“529”) when it was needed.

In 2004 EMS and fire operations were moved under one roof.  The old training room at the fire station was converted to living quarters and all four personnel stayed there.  The fire personnel was also provided additional training to advance their level of EMT certification to EMT-Advanced.  At that point, we began to mix up the crews to allow us to provide the highest level of EMS care to the greatest number of patients.  

Currently, the department operates three ALS ambulances, one ALS engine, and multiple BLS response vehicles.  The department currently consists of 35 members.  24 full-time members and 11 part-time members.  Each shift is staffed with a minimum of six personnel of which at least two must be paramedics.  Of the 35 members:  23 are paramedics, 4 are advanced EMTs, and 8 are basic EMTs.  All the members are cross-trained in fire suppression with 31 being trained to the level of Firefighter II and 4 being trained to the level of Firefighter I.

The 35 members include one full-time chief, one full-time deputy chief, one full-time fire inspector, three full-time captains, eighteen full-time line personnel, and eleven part-time line personnel.  The members are broken up into three shifts (A, B, C).  Seven full-time personnel are assigned to each shift and are supervised by a shift captain. 

Part-time personnel fill one additional spot on each shift and may fill vacancies as needed.  The Chief, Deputy Chief, and Fire Inspector work a 40-hour work week, and the line personnel works a 48-hour work week with 24 hours on-duty and 48 hours off-duty.

The quality of EMS service in this region of the Country has increased greatly over the years and offers some of the highest quality EMS care possible.  We care for all types of injuries and illnesses with some of the most progressive protocols around.  All the EMTs, EMT-Is, and Paramedics are certified by the State of Ohio but operate under the license and medical direction of our Medical Director, Tom Boggs D.O.  Our medical direction has always been provided by one of the ER doctors at St. Luke’s Hospital in Maumee as that is where most of our patients go.

We provide treatment from the most basic level to life-threatening emergencies.  We have been provided with State-of-the-art equipment and our protocols allow us to do things like: 

  • Advanced airway management including intubation and medicated facilitate intubation with video laryngoscopy (Glidescope Go)
  • CPAP and vents
  • CPR with the LUCAS 3
  • Vascular access with IVs and IOs
  • Cardiac monitoring with 12-Leads (with transmission to ER), 4-Leads, non-invasive blood pressures, pulse oximetry, waveform capnography, defibrillation, cardioversion, and pacing
  • Aggressive pain management protocols
  • Protocols to bypass hospitals to get patients to definitive care for trauma, stroke, and heart attacks

Perrysburg Township EMS has always been a leader in our region, but we could not have achieved this without the support of our residents, the Perrysburg Township Board of Trustees, The Perrysburg Township Administrative personnel, our Medical Direction, the area hospitals, and the regions numerous EMS champions that continue to push the edge on what can be done in the field.