Willoughby Hills Fire Department Celebrates 75th Anniversary - News Herald

Willoughby Hills Fire Department Celebrates 75th Anniversary – News Herald

The Willoughby Hills Fire Department, established in 1947 as the Garfield Department of the City of Willoughby Fire Department, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

Fire Chief Robert Gandy, who started with the department three years ago, said the department has a long tradition of taking care of people and has made great strides over the years.

“This is an exciting milestone for everyone because we have some amazing people working for us and we have some amazing people who have worked with us in the past, gone on to do better things and become presidents,” Gandhi said. “It’s hard to believe how much time has passed. We have increased our headcount; We have a new engine coming next year; We’ve come up with a 21-year plan for vehicle replacements and other strategic repairs to extend the life of all our equipment and buildings.”

Until 1980, the department used what is now the Firehouse Grille and Pub on Stark Drive for its fire station.

“We decided to throw an anniversary party and the appropriate venue was the Firehouse Grille and Pub, the headquarters of the administration before we moved down the street in front of City Hall,” said Gandhi. We’ve invited a few of our neighborhood fire chiefs because that’s part of their success, too. We all work well together.”

As part of the celebration, a time capsule of the department was inaugurated, set in 2001. Old patches and documents, some old lists, and a collection of historical materials were found.

“It was amazing to open up and see all the different memorabilia,” said Gandhi. “Our plan is to modernize it and close it down. Hopefully, in another 25 years, the next president will go through a similar process and experience the same excitement and remembrance of where the department evolved from.”

When he was 16 years old in 1981, Steve Nash started with the department as a freshman. During his 20-year career, he rose to lieutenant and then to assistant chief.

Nash believes much of the division’s history revolves around Charles Schumacher, who was the boss when it started. In 1971, Schumacher announced that 14 men from his department, along with firefighters from Wycliffe and Richmond Heights, would begin first aid training at Richmond Heights General Hospital. They were among the first in Ohio to do so, according to the department.

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