A fire on Hathaway Road in 1947 caused a stir among Washington Township farmers. They were upset that no fire department had responded to a blaze that destroyed a family’s barn.
Ken Daugherty, owner of Daugherty’s Restaurant and Gas Station, was contacted by the farmers about the possibility of starting a fire department. After numerous meetings, it was decided to put a 2.3 mill tax levy on the ballot in November 1948 for just that purpose. The levy was approved, and most of the $20,000 that was generated was used to purchase land and build a fire station on Possum Run Road. A portion of that money also went toward the purchase of a 1949 Ford fire truck.
Ken Daugherty was appointed as the first Fire Chief, and on September 21, 1949, a training fire was held at the new station. Twenty-one volunteers showed up to participate. Chief Daugherty served 14 years, retiring in 1963.
Tom Daugherty, Ken’s son, was appointed Fire Chief in 1963 and served 9 years, retiring in 1972. The fire department was able to purchase an additional fire truck during his tenure as chief.
Wilbert Bischoff became Fire Chief in 1973. Chief Bischoff was responsible for many improvements to enhance the safety of the firefighters, such as additional fire training and the purchase of two-way radios for every truck. He also purchased two tankers, an additional engine, and the department’s first ambulance for emergency medical calls. Chief Bischoff served 27 years, retiring in 1990.
Stan Remy was appointed Fire Chief in 1990. Chief Remy entered the fire service by following in the footsteps of his father, Harry Remy, who was one of the first firefighters to join the Washington Township Fire Department in 1949. Chief Remy’s experience working as a Captain with the Mansfield Fire Department proved to be a valuable training asset to the progression of the fire department. New apparatus, additional two-way radios and turn-out gear were some of the improvements he made during his 7 years as Fire Chief. He retired at the end of 1997, completing 40 years of service to Washington Township.
Ray Secrist became Fire Chief on January 1, 1998. Chief Secrist led the department into the computer age by creating many spreadsheets to streamline the record- keeping process. He was the first member of the department to be certified as an Emergency Medical Technician in the mid 1970s. Chief Secrist served in the capacity for one year before medical problems forced him to retire from active firefighting in 1999.
Mike Heinberger was appointed Fire Chief in 1999. Chief Heinberger brought more mainstream technology to the department with the addition of computers to log calls, personnel records and EMS reports. The most noteworthy improvement during his tenure as Chief was the implementation of Advanced Life Support capabilities. Chief Heinberger also continued to update apparatus and equipment before retiring in 2004, after serving 5 years as Fire Chief.
David Compton is currently serving as Fire Chief, being appointed in 2004. Chief Compton has continued the process of upgrading equipment with the purchase of new radios, turnout gear and other fire-fighting and EMS equipment. He has also applied for and received several grants from FEMA to purchase items such as new pagers, SCBA bottles, cardiac monitors and defibrillators, and a compressor system to refill SCBA bottles.
The Washington Township Fire Department would not be present today without the men and women that have given their time to serve the community. A list of every member that has served as a firefighter or EMT over the last 60 years can be found in the meeting room. The unselfish devotion, dedication, and sacrifice these individuals gave to the residents of Washington Township cannot be described by words alone. These are the men and women that have helped make the Washington Township Fire Department what it was yesterday, what it is today, and what it will be in the future.