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HISTORY OF THE LIVONIA FIRE DEPARTMENT

 

Established In 1941

 

FIRE DEPARTMENT HISTORY

                                                                    

     Livonia's Fire Department dates back to the days of the township. The department's first fire truck, a 500 gallon pumper, was delivered on November 1, 1941, and on December 7. 1941, the Department answered its first fire call. At that time township firefighters operated strictly on a voluntary basis, and the truck was housed in a gas station owned by Calvin Roberts, the present Chief. In 1945 the township's first fire station was built near the corner of Plymouth and Merriman roads, and remained in use until 1954 when the new fire station was built on Farmington road near Plymouth road. In 1947 the first full time fireman was hired, followed shortly in 1948 by the addition of a second fire truck and a second fire station at Seven Mile and Middlebelt. In 1952 the department pur­chased a new 1,000 gallon pumper, had 14 men, and added a third station by opening a station in the rear of the City Hall on Five Mile road.

In 1955 the Livonia Fire Department answered 515 alarms for the purpose of protect­ing the life and property of Livonia’s citizens. In contrast the township fire department had about 100 calls a year. These 515 alarms ranged from overheated oil stoves to large commercial fires, but no matter how trivial they seem, the hazardous condition exists and the Livonia Fire Department shall always stand ready to supply all the aid possible for the City of Livonia.

1956

           The operating unit of the Fire Department is the "Company." Each company consists of a small group of men, three to six under a com­pany officer, operating one truck. A fire com­pany is organized, equipped and trained for the definite function of locating the fire, extinguish­ing the fire, and overhauling the fire. Another very important unit of the Fire Department is the rescue company which is equipped for rescu­ing victims, providing first aid, supplying oxy­gen and resuscitation to people where needed, and to assist, if possible, the duties of the fire­man at all large fires.

The Livonia Fire Department consists of three fire stations with plans for the eventual replacement of station No. 1 which is the old city hall, with a new Fire Headquarters build­ing to be located in the proposed civic center. The department also boasts four engines, one rescue truck that is equipped with a resuscitator and emergency equipment, a fire inspector’s car for the fire prevention bureau, a panel car for use of on-duty lieutenants for their response to all alarms, and a Chief's car. All this motorized equipment is provided with two-way radios to provide complete contact with headquarters and all other equipment so that it can remain in service for as much time as possible.

Livonia's Fire Department is one of the largest full time, paid Fire Departments in the suburban area. It now has a total of 44 men, which consists of the Chief, two lieutenants, six sergeants and thirty-two firemen. It also has a Fire Prevention Bureau which has a lieutenant and two fire inspectors. With the proposed addi­tion of six new men, this figure will soon grow to a total of fifty full-time men.

 

 


TIMELINE

  • Nov. 1, 1941 — Livonia's first-ever fire truck, a 1941 Dodge/General 500 GPM pumper costing about $5,000, is delivered. The truck's first quarters are the Roberts gas station at Plymouth and Merriman roads. The first run occurs on Dec. 7, 1941, the same day Pearl Harbor is bombed. All firefighters are volunteers. Calvin Roberts, the gas station owner, is named the first chief because he agreed to house the truck. Livonia is still a township.
  • 1945 — Livonia's first fire station is built adjacent to Roberts' gas station. It serves the entire 36 square miles of Livonia Township.
  • 1947 — Livonia's first full-time firefighter is hired.
  • 1948 — Livonia's second fire station is built at Seven Mile and Middlebelt roads. A second piece of apparatus is also purchased, a 1948 International/John Bean 500 GPM high pressure pumper.
  • 1950 — Livonia becomes a city.
  • Feb. 29, 1952 — An explosion and fire destroy one-third of the uncompleted Ford Motor Co. tank plant. Firefighters from five neighboring communities join the Livonia Fire Department in battling the blaze, but little can be done. No water mains had yet been piped to the plant, and the nearest fire hydrant was nearly a mile away. Blame was placed on oil stoves used to warm construction workers.
  • Aug. 12, 1953 — Fire destroys the Hydra-Matic plant operated by the Detroit Transmission Division of GM, killing six and injuring 15. Damages were estimated at $80 million. It started when outside construction workers using an oxyacetylene cutting torch ignited a conveyer drip pan containing a highly flammable liquid used as a rust inhibitor for transmission parts. Hand-held extinguishers almost had the fire out until they ran dry; then the fire quickly spread throughout the 1.5 million square foot plant. As the largest industrial fire in history at that time, the fire served as a wake-up call to American manufacturers and fire safety standards were significantly improved.
  • 1954 — The fire department has 32 full-time firefighters,
  • 1955 — The fire department responds to 515 alarms, most of them fire-related. Today, it responds to 8,500, the majority being medical runs.
  • 1971 — The fire department begins transporting patients to hospitals, but private ambulances remain the primary transport.
  • 1972 — Roberts retires as chief after 29 years, hand-picking his replacement, John Bunk, who had come up through the ranks of the department. Shadd Whitehead, the current chief, is the department's seventh.
  • 1980 — The fire department begins transporting all patients to hospitals.
  • April 17, 1983 — The Livonia Fire Department loses its only member ever in the official line of duty. Gary Kreski, responding with other firefighters to a structure fire at Madison Electric Co., 15378 Middlebelt Road, dies from his injuries after the roof caves in.
  • 1986 — The Livonia Fire Department plays a critical role in the development of the Western Wayne County Hazardous Materials Response Team.
  • February 1999 — The Livonia Fire Department begins advanced life support service.
  • 2006 — The Livonia Fire Department is instrumental in forming the Western Wayne County Urban Search and Rescue Team to assist victims trapped in confined spaces due to natural disasters, building collapses, traffic accidents and other causes.
  • 2011 — The fire department has 89 full-time personnel, five fire stations and a fire headquarters, five pumpers, five squads, a heavy rescue, tower ladder, and several support vehicles for fire prevention, training and the like. There are also reserve apparatus, technical rescue, a boat and assorted trailers and vehicles for hazmat and search and rescue operations.

 

1957

 

See Both Issues Of The Firemen's Ball From 1956 and 1957

<Click Here>

 

 

 

Livonia's Firefighters Could Provide Basic First Aid

 

 

 

 Ladder Truck

 

 

 The livonia Fire Department has come a long way since those days, but we will never forget where we came from and especially  those who lead the way to make it possible for us to serve our community doing the best job in the world.

 

Please take some time and enjoy these video montages from our past.

 

Visit Our Photo Gallary To See All Our Photos Past And Present

 

 


Fire department has humble beginnings
May 15, 2012
Following are some key developments in the history of the Livonia Fire Department, according to Al Judge's book, Livonia Fire Rescue “A Living History.” Nov. 1, 1941 — Livonia's first-ever fire truck, a 1941 Dodge/General 500 GPM pumper costing about $5,000, is delivered.
Fire ‘buff' pens book on Livonia department's 70-year history
May 15, 2012
                     Livonia's Station No. 1. Al Judge has never worked as a firefighter, but he said he has had “fire” in his blood a long time.
Livonia Fire Department History Slide Shows
Jun 10, 2010

LFD History Volume 1 from Weasel Video Production on Vimeo.

LFD History Volume 2 from Weasel Video Production on Vimeo.


Firemen's Ball 1956 & 1957
Sep 23, 2010

LFD History Photos
Jun 07, 2010



Page Last Updated: May 15, 2012 (14:29:48)
     
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