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Jerome Township Fire Department History 1940-1970

Phone : 989-488-4578 Fax : 989-687-2318 737 W. Beamish Road, Sanford, Michigan 48657
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Office Hours: 9:00am - 1:00pm Monday - Thursday or by appointment

Jerome Township Fire Department

725 Irish Street, PO Box 17
Sanford, MI 48657-0017
Business Phone (989) 687-2600
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Jerome Township Fire Department History 1940 to 1970

The 1940's

In 1947 the Sanford area merchants, in cooperation with the Jerome Township Board, felt it was time that they had some sort of fire protection. The board authorized the purchase of a used 1924 Chevrolet Champion fire truck, and Frank Furst was appointed Jerome Township's 1st fire chief. Frank lived in the business district where the Red Oak Lounge is today, and had a garage big enough to store the truck. Pictured - George Thornton firefighter, with 1924 Chevrolet Champion fire truck.

This truck did not have a pump, but had 2-20lb. soda-acid tanks. When firewater was needed, the acid was introduced into the soda water and the reaction was responsible to propel the liquid out of the fire hose until the reaction was complete and the tanks were empty. Allen Cole played a critical part in the mechanical aspects of that first fire truck. When Frank moved away in 1948 it wasn't much of a surprise that Allen was appointed Jerome Township's second fire chief. Allen would house the truck in his service station and keep it in good running order.

Allen realized that this truck was insufficient for the increasing needs of the township but the board at that time had no money for a new truck. Allen told the board that if he could get financing, he would buy a chassis and build a truck and lease it back to the township. Allen went to the local bank, Peoples State Savings & Loan and talked to loan officer Rex Schneider, who told Allen that if he was foolish enough to want to borrow money to build a fire truck for the community, then he guessed he would be foolish enough to loan it to him. The truck was a 1948 GMC one-ton chassis.

Allen and his workers at the garage outfitted it with a hand-fabricated body and installed a 250 GPM pump. That truck served the community as a front-line pumper until 1974 and served as a backup pumper until 1994. It was then decommissioned and sold to a Jerome Township firefighter, Dick Graham, who agreed to keep the truck in running order and show it off in parades and other civic events. The truck is still in parade use at this time. Pictured at left - Dick Graham with old engine 90. The truck that Allen Built.

The 1950's

Around 1954 other townships in the area were asking for fire protection as well and Allen agreed to cover 8 Townships; Edenville, Lee, Lincoln, Geneva, Greendale, Hope, Jerome, and Homer. A used 1950 Chevy cab-over fuel oil delivery truck was purchased and again handcrafted into a pumper/tanker holding 1,000 gallons of water.

The 1960's

The early 60's brought about changes in the fire service as vehicle accidents and the need for vehicle extrication began to unfold. The day the US-10 freeway opened in 1961 a fatal car crash took place. Fire safety was getting attention in the newspapers such as this article with Chief Allen Cole and Chief Deputy John L. Smallwood. At left a Photo by Midland Daily News. Allen examines US-10 freeway's first wreck hours after it opened in December 16th, 1961.

"Photo by Midland Daily News" Allen Cole and Bob McNett 1963.

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