Formation of the department: 1945 - 1948
After the end of World War II, the country was able to focus on issues here at home. For the residents of the unincorporated areas of Steubenville and Cross Creek townships in Jefferson County, Ohio, a major issue was the lack of adequate fire protection. Thus, starting in 1945, a group of concerned and ambitious citizens met to discuss forming a volunteer fire department to provide themselves and their neighbors with a much needed service. The department existed on paper for several years as Hill's District Volunteer Fire Department, most likely named after Hills Elementary School which many of the area children attended. Meetings were held in local churches and the homes of the members as they tried to gain support, raise funds, organize the department, and secure a site for the future fire station.
The name of the department was changed to Hillndale Volunteer Fire Department in early 1948. That same year, with the help of a loan from the bank, the first two fire apparatus were purchased, a 1928 American LaFrance pumper and an aerial truck. The department signed contracts with Steubenville and Cross Creek townships for fire protection, and began functioning as a fire department without a station. At this time, residents had to phone one of the members to report a fire or emergency.
The site of the first fire station was a small 50' x 50' piece of property on Wilson Ave. that was donated by a generous local farm owner. Ground was broken for the first station on October 19, 1948. The dedicated members labored every night that weather permitted and completed construction in December of the same year. The station was a white block building with two truck bays and a coal furnace which had to be continually fed during the winter months. A few years later a small kitchen and meeting area was added to the building, followed by restrooms in the mid 1960s.
Equipment upgrades: 1949 - 1969
In 1949, an emergency number, 283-2622, was established for the fire department. This line would ring into one of the members regular phone line. Whether he was home or not was a major concern. Over the years the number of lines was increased and rang into separate phones in various members homes. The member receiving the call would then hurry to the station to set off the siren, which would then alert the other members.
Other purchases include a bread truck from a local bakery in 1956 to use for transporting equipment. The following year, a new apparatus was purchased, a 1957 GMC 800 gallon tanker, which was eventually designated engine 1 and remained in service until 1997. In 1960, the department upgraded their technology by purchasing a Chemox gas mask from MSA and CB radios for both trucks and one for the station.
In 1962, a 1943 International 500 gpm pumper was purchased, and the 1928 American La France sold to Belvedere Volunteer Fire Department (also in Jefferson County). In 1963 a jeep was purchased to be equipped for fighting grass fires.
In October of 1965, the department purchased a new fire engine with a 750 gpm front mount pump and 750 gallon tank. The apparatus was on a Ford Chassis with fire body from H.S. Darley Company of Chicago. It was originally equipped with 400 ft. of 1.5" attack hose and two 200' booster reels. The engine was put in service as the first out engine and designated unit number 2. This replaced the 1943 International, which was sold to East Springfield VFD in northern Jefferson County.
Modernization and near tragedy: 1970 - 1979
In 1970 several new pieces of equipment were purchased, including a smoke ejector, and 600' of new 1.5" attack line to replace the booster reels. Also new radios were purchased to replace the CB models, which were given to a local boy scout troop. The frequency used was 33.940, like many departments in the area and throughout the country. Sharing this frequency with other departments necessitated having unique unit numbers for each department's apparatus. Hillndale became station number 800, with engine one designated 801 and engine 2 designated 802. Each member also had his or her own number for their personal vehicle, the chief was 805, and so on.
In 1972 several acres of property were purchased near the station with intent of building a new fire station in the future. In 1973, two lots were sold for home construction and trees were sold for firewood, which recovered over half the cost of the property.
In 1974, HVFD purchased their first two SCBAs. They were MSA models and allowed the firefighters to more safely conduct interior fire attacks.
In December of 1975, the unthinkable happened as engine 802 lost its brakes while descending Devil's Den Hill in response to a propane tank fire at a local industry. The driver had to steer the engine into the side of the hill to bring it to a stop. Fortunately the two firefighters in the cab were uninjured. However, one firefighter riding the tailboard suffered minor injuries and the engine suffered extensive body damage to the driver's side. The damage was repaired thanks to many generous donations from local organizations and businesses and 802 continued to serve as the first out engine until it was replaced in 1985. Steubenville Fire Department graciously loaned their reserve truck for use while the repairs were being done.
Expansion by leaps and bounds: 1980 - 1989
Ground was broken for a new fire station in August of 1980. The block/brick building was built just a few hundred yards from the old station and featured four truck bays and a social hall. The new station was completed and occupied in September of 1982.
January of 1983 marks HVFD's entry into EMS as six firefighters completed the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)-Basic course. At this time HVFD began operating as a first responder satellite unit for the Brilliant Volunteer Fire department. This training allowed the Hillndale EMTs to respond to the medical emergencies in their area and stabilize patients as necessary until an ambulance from Brilliant arrived for transport. With this additional service, call volume nearly doubled from the previous year.
Over the years, many schemes have been employed to raise money for operating the department. Early events included record hops, square dances, concerts, raffles, festivals, corn roasts, fish frys, car washes, and the sale of fire extinguishers, magazines, combs, toothbrushes, and bandage dispensers. With all the progress made in recent years, a constant source of income was needed to supplement the township contracts and periodic fundraisers. To meet this need, a weekly bingo game was proposed and the first session was held on August 11,1983. Bingo has been held on Thursday nights ever since. Click on the link for more info on our Bingo game.
In June of 1985, four members of the department flew to Appleton Wisconsin to bring home a new fire apparatus. The truck was a 1985 Pierce Arrow attack pumper which boasted a 1000 gpm pump and 1000 gallon water tank. The engine was equipped with two 150' lines of 1.75" hose in preconnected crosslays, one booster reel, a 3" blitz line and 1000' of 3" supply line. The unit became engine 803 and was put into service as the first out pumper. Click on the link for pictures of this apparatus.
In 1987 a pit was built behind the fire station for roasting chickens. With the help of the area chicken roasting expert, the first chicken roast was held October 25 of the same year. These roasts are not only a fundraiser, but also have become a tradition.
More apparatus purchases and introduction of 911 dispatch: 1990 -
To better navigate our narrow roads and to improve the initial response time to small fires, we purchased a mini-pumper in 1993 from Glenn Robins VFD in southern Jefferson County. This apparatus was a 4x4 Ford / Pierce with a 400 gpm pump and a 250 gallon tank. This unit was given the call sign 806. Click on the link for pictures of the mini-pumper.
Our second out engine was replaced with a newer apparatus in 1994. The new unit 802 was a 1980 Hendrickson / Pircsh pumper with a 1250 gpm pump and 500 gallon tank. Click on the link for pictures of this engine.
Also in 1994 an answering service was contracted for answering the emergency "fire" phone line. This way if none of the members who had the line in their home were available, the answering service could dispatch the other firefighters through their home monitors, and call another department for mutual aid if necessary. This was a precursor to automatic dispatch.
HVFD purchased their first ambulance in 1995, it was a 1982 Ford type II and was given unit number 804. Click on the link for pictures of this unit. After it was stocked with equipment and supplies, patient transport service began August 5, 1996.
In 1997, 911 dispatch came in service for all public safety agencies in Jefferson County. Each station was given a unique number, with Hillndale's being station 44. Each unit was also given a four digit unit number that told what station, type and number the unit was. Thus tanker 801 became 4451, engines 802, 803, and 806 became 4412, 4413, and 4416, respectively, and ambulance 804 became 4464. Each of our members was given a voice pager which is activated by dispatch shortly after receiving an emergency call. The advent of the 911 system greatly improved our response times and helped us to better serve our community.
In 1998, the department purchased a Heartstream automatic defibrillator to be carried on board the ambulance. This gave us the ability better treat cardiac arrest patients, for which time is the critical factor. That same year we were awarded a grant from the state for the purchase of several sets of new bunker gear.
Recent history: 2000 - present
In 2000 we purchased 10 more modern MSA air packs which replaced our older models and included PASS devices, for increased firefighter safety. Also in 2000, the HVFD website went online.
In 2002 we borrowed more money from the bank to put a new roof on our station and to purchased a larger ambulance. This new ambulance, 4461, is a type III, and offers more room to work in the patient compartment. Click on the link to see pictures of 4461. Since 4464 is kept as a second-out EMS unit, we are better able to treat and transport multiple patients from the same incident and are also able to handle multiple EMS calls at the same time with less reliance on mutual aid.
Through partial Ohio division of EMS grant funding, we purchased another AED in 2003, equipping both ambulances with one. The new purchase not only has improved effectiveness expected in a newer model, but also has the capability to be used on children in cardiac arrest, by way of a special energy-reducing adapter.
As the saying goes, "when it rains it, it pours." This has been true for us in 2004. Thanks to the support of our voters and taxpayers in Cross Creek Township, who approved the fire tax levy in the November 2004 election, we should get a much needed bolus of revenue starting in 2005. Also, we were the recipients of two significant grant award in 2004. The first was from the Ohio State Fire Marshal for protective clothing, which we used to replace worn fire gear and to purchase new helmets and boots that meet current NFPA standards. Secondly, we were very fortunate to receive a federal FIRE act grant for the purchase of new air packs and a thermal imaging camera. Most importantly, we were in a financial position to be able to order a new fire engine, of which we will take delivery in early 2005. Though all of this equipment is costly, it will greatly improve our ability to safely and effectively carry out our mission to our citizens and community. Our sincere thanks goes to all of our supporters in the past and present for your generosity.
Click here for a picture history of the department