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How The Waynedale Fire Department Began

The following is a history of the Waynedale Fire Department, written in 1983, by Paul W. Fairfield, with assistance from James and Catherine Mason, Delmar Green, Mrs. George Prince and Kenneth McCague.

Around 1940 a number of people in the Waynedale area conducted a survey on the fire service for the area. The survey concluded that a fire station was badly needed, as there was none. Fort Wayne was the closest fire service available with Station #8 on Fairfield Avenue and Creighton Avenue, and Station #5 located on Broadway. These stations were a distance of 10 miles away. At that time Fort Wayne refused to send any fire equipment out of the city limits. As a result of this situation, a group of people carried petitions around the Waynedale area asking the Trustee of Wayne Township to build a station and furnish them with fire protection.

Wayne Township Trustee Walter Hayes purchased a lot from Otto Graft at 7001 Old Trail Road. Work was started on a fire station at this address, and a new fire pumper truck was ordered. Before the station was completed, the fire truck was delivered. There was no place to house this new equipment, so men with the help of James Mason, moved a frame building from Elmhurst High School to the rear of 7001 Old Trail Road for a temporary building to store the fire truck.
The fire station building that was built during the war years experienced building material problems. Brick for the exterior of the building was scarce. The men in the area hauled brick from a school near Bluffton that a contractor had donated.

On October 31, 1942 the station was dedicated by Trustee Walter F. Hayes. Music was furnished by the Elmhurst band under the direction of Donald Fryback.
Personnel to operate the new American LaFrance, 500 GPM, known as the K-7 International Truck were: George Bond, Chief, Charles Evans, Captain, James Mason, Lieutenant, and Willard Tarr, Lieutenant.

A second pumper truck and tanker truck were built by James Mason and many volunteers. These trucks had the carrying capacity of 1400 gallons of water.
The fire runs were numerous. One of the largest fires in the history of the station occurred at the Baer Field hanger in 1946.

In 1954 another survey was held to establish the need for an ambulance. After several bad accidents on the Bluffton Road, the station acquired a 1949 Buick ambulance, which was purchased from the City of Fort Wayne.

As more homes were built in the area there were more fires so in 1952 a new 500 GPM pumper was put in service replacing the old K-7 American LaFrance fire truck. A used Cadillac ambulance came along to replace the 1949 Buick in 1962. This used ambulance was later replaced in 1966 by a new Harvester Travel-all equipped to carry all the necessary things for emergency work.

In the year 1971 quite a change was again made in the station equipment. At this time a 1000 GPM Howe pumper and a 1200-gallon Water Howe tanker was put into service at Wayne #1.

The largest and longest train derailment occurred in July 1973. Four cars of vinyl chloride were derailed and caught fire at the Thomas Road Crossing. Nearly three days were required to bring this accident under control. Another big fire occurred at the Patton Electric Company, near Baer Field. The loss exceeded 2.5 million dollars. The year was 1975.

On May 14, 1975 Pumper 51 was making a fire run to 900 Rockhill Court. At the intersection of Bluffton Road and Baer Field Thruway, a pick-up truck collided with the pumper. Captain Harry Stapleton Junior, driver of the pumper, was killed and the other men on the pumper, Herman Smith and John Hoke, were injured.
A much needed rescue truck was delivered in 1976. This was equipped with every tool necessary for rescue work.

Mr. William J. Cooper, Township Trustee built a Community and Training Building at the rear of the fire station in 1977. In this same year an addition was added to the present fire building. Later, in 1978, Mr. Cooper ordered a new 1500 GPM fire pumper, which was delivered and put into service that same year. This history covers 43 years (1940-1983) of fire and ambulance service.

After Waynedale was annexed into Fort Wayne in 1957, volunteers continued to serve the township. The fire department lives on today as South West Allen County Fire Protection District, which was formed in 1986. There are now three firehouses. They are located on Indianapolis Road, South Bend Drive and of course, the original station in Waynedale at 7001 Old Trail Road. The Southwest Fire District provides rescue service for 82 square miles in Allen County and to a small portion of Wells County in the town of Zanesville. They are staffed by 13 career fire fighters/medics, and over 65 professional volunteer fire fighters, of which over 30 are state certified emergency medical technicians. Townships served by the department are Lafayette, Pleasant and Wayne. This includes the communities of Fort Wayne, Yoder and Zanesville. The department averages over 850 calls annually.

The Waynedale News Staff
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Paul W. Fairfield

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