Deerfield Fire Department celebrates 50 years of service

By Wendy Sufrin Record-Courier staff writer Published:

This time it was a demonstration.

Deerfield's volunteer fire department Saturday brought out the Jaws of Life and other state-of-the art equipment during a 50th anniversary celebration held at the fire station.

Fifty years ago the department was limited to a chemical fire extinguisher on wheels. A year later the department turned from fund raising to firefighting when it acquired a new 1948 International pumper truck.

On Friday the department put its newest piece of equipment into service, a new 2,000-gallon tanker truck valued at just under $128,000. A mechanically operated lift allows two firefighters to remove the truck's portable tank, freeing a third volunteer to return for more water.

Additional department equipment includes a pump truck, tanker, mini-pumper, ambulance and four-wheel-drive brush fire truck. In addition to the Jaws of Life, rescue workers have access to a heart defibrillator, a carbon monoxide detector with a parts-per-million readout and other modern equipment.

Guests attending the 50th anniversary celebration were also able to see Portage County's hazardous materials vehicle and learn crucial safety techniques while visiting a safety training vehicle on loan from the Kent Firefighters Association. A life flight helicopter, which provides assistance during the worst emergencies, also touched down.

It's a far cry from the organization's early years, when the department started with some dozen members with the desire to serve. Department membership is now at 25, including Fire Chief Miles Felmly. The women's auxiliary, now called the Sirenettes, still aids the department's fund raising efforts and provides refreshments during long-term emergencies.

On hand to observe a half-century of saving lives were founding member William Westover, long-time member Howard Johnson, Jack Koras, Larry Legros, Howard and Fred Duvall, Josh Everett and Harold Montgomery.

Each of the department's firefighters received a personalized commemorative glass mug and plaque donated by Debra Grindley, owner of Modern China in nearby Sebring.

Anderson's Grocery, which housed the department's first fire truck, donated a centerpiece for the refreshment table; and Deerfield resident Mrs. Clara Hartzell topped the celebration with a $1,000 donation. Other area residents also made donations.

The station itself has moved three times _ from garage space on loan from Jesse Forest, the department's first chief to garage space on loan from Ray Sutliffe, the department's second chief. In 1952 the department moved into its current home, located just east of Deerfield Circle on S.R. 224.

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