History of the Mack Volunteer Fire Department

In the early months of 1944, a group of men, organized as a Civil Defense Unit, decided to do something for the betterment of the community. This was the beginning of one of the finest, best equipped and well-trained volunteer fire departments in all of Hamilton County - the Mack Volunteer Fire Department.

These charter members of the fire department held their first meeting in the back room in what became the Shadylawn Tavern on Ebenezer Road. The Shadylawn Tavern is no longer there, but was located just one block north of the original Mack Volunteer Fire Department Station at 6120 Bridgetown Road. These charter members formed a private fire company and established a corporation to eventually provide fire protection and other emergency services to parts of Green Township, at first, mainly the Mack and Bridgetown areas.

The Mack Volunteer Fire Department was incorporated as an Ohio non-profit corporation on June 5, 1944.

The first list of officers were William Stroschen Jr., president; Ralph Carle, vice president (who also later became a Green Township Trustee); John Soaper, secretary; Joe Lingers, treasurer; Walter Stroschen, sergeant-at-arms; and three directors, William Neihiesel, Sam Zaeske and Ed Luhrman.

Shortly afterward, Ed Luhrman was appointed honorary chief of the department. The months that followed the first meeting were filled with activity, creating the by-laws, finding property to build the first firehouse, as well as fund drives to finance and support the organization.

The first service to the public by the Mack Volunteer Fire Department was an emergency car, or ambulance service for the sick and injured. This was put into service in November 1944 by Manuel Kulbeck, who was then named head of safety and first aid for the department.

The first piece of equipment was purchased in January 1945, consisting of one Civil Defense pumper and trailer.

In May 1945, the Mack firefighters joined the Ohio State Firemen’s Association. On June 24 of that same year, after a year and a half of planning, the first shovel of dirt was turned to begin building the original Mack Station at 6120 Bridgetown Road which while greatly expanded and remodeled over the decades, still stands today. The groundbreaking was held on Sunday and a large celebration followed.

Ed Steinmann was the first elected chief of the fire department, and served from May 19, 1947 to October 9, 1947, when he resigned. He was succeeded by then Assistant Chief Robert Metz who served as chief from October 1947 until January 1958.

The two pioneer chiefs, Mr. Steinmann, 78 years old and living at 6062 Bridgetown Road, and Mr. Metz, 50 years old and living at 3673 Eyrich Road, died within 21 days of each other in October 1967.

The dedication of the first Mack Volunteer Fire Station took place on September 27, 1947. The following month, the Mack Volunteer Fire Department made its first run to Fiddlers Green Road to assist the Cheviot Fire Department.

On November 8, 1948, the Mack Volunteer Fire Department signed mutual aid agreements with both the Cheviot Fire Department and the Delhi Township Fire Department.

Between the years 1948 and 1953, the department spent endless hours improving on its equipment and expanding the territory that it protected. On January 16, 1953, the department purchased its own emergency car, a 1948 panel truck. In March of 1954, a 1954 GMC pumper was purchased. This new pumper was painted white instead of the usual red used by most fire departments and thus began the tradition of white emergency equipment for Mack. The two older pieces of equipment were also repainted white at that time.

On May 11, 1954, the Mack Volunteer Fire Department signed a new flat rate contract with Green Township Board of Trustees to provide fire protection services to all of Green Township. Up to this time, Green Township was receiving fire protection services under contract from four fire departments including Groesbeck, Cheviot, Delhi and Mack. The department then also announced it would be building a second fire station in Monfort Heights. The department then also purchased a Ford Truck Pumper, its fourth piece of fire fighting equipment.

Mack continued the contract with Delhi Township Fire Department to cover the Covedale area of Green Township. Delhi provided fire and emergency services to the area of Green Township between Muddy Creek Road and Cleves Warsaw Road.

In May, 1955, the Ladies Auxiliary was formed to assist the fire fighters. Since then, the ladies have aided the department in fund-raising events and at times also manned the emergency telephone system.

In the early years, a large siren installed on a tower above the firehouse, announced an emergency call for the volunteers to respond to the station. Since it was a rural community, many people worked outside in farming or lived close enough that they could hear the siren day or night.

Later, a radio system was installed at the Bridgetown station. The FCC issued Mack a license on an assigned frequency of 33.82 Mhz and the callsign of KBZ-422. Fire fighters were given special radios called "Plectrons" that only turned on when the radio sent a particular tone to activate the speaker so fire fighters could then hear the call.

In June, 1955 the department purchased a new emergency car, or ambulance, a 1955 GMC one-ton panel truck. The department’s equipment then consisted of a GMC truck with a civil defense pump mounted on it, a 1947 Federal Pumper, a 1954 GMC Pumper, and a 1944 Ford Pumper.

Joseph Lingers was elected chief in January 1958 and served until January 1963 when Stan Mueller succeeded him. Mr. Mueller held the chief’s position until January 1966.

Stan Mueller up to that time was the oldest active member of the department with 22 years of service that started on October 18, 1948.

Donald Schlensker was elected to the chief’s position in January 1966 and served in that capacity until January 1974 when he was succeeded by Robert Weitzel who was then elected chief. In 1979, the members decided that they wanted a new direction and replaced Weitzel with Hal Welge. Welge was the last chief of the Mack Volunteer Fire Department. However, eight months later, Chief Welge resigned when Mack decided to become a paid department. The department was renamed Mack Fire Department and the department's board of directors hired Bob Weitzel back as chief of the newly reformed paid department. Weitzel then continued on as chief of the successor township fire department, the Green Township Mack Fire Department (now just Green Township Fire Department).

During the years between 1954 and 1966, the Mack Volunteer Fire Department was constantly planning for the construction of a station in Monfort Heights. The old station was located behind the Green Township administration building which at the time was located at 5581 Cheviot Road. The administration building was moved in the early 1980’s to its present more central location on Harrison Avenue.

On October 16, 1966 the long awaited moment arrived when the new Mack Volunteer Fire Department station in Monfort Heights was dedicated and opened at the corner of Audro Lane and West Fork Road. It was a community-wide dedication and corresponded with the closing of the National Fire Prevention Week.

Assistant Chief Dale Roberto was named supervising officer of the new station. The one-story brick building measured 92 feet wide by 61 feet deep. The station had four bays to house equipment.

A wide range of dignitaries presided at the dedication ceremony including Ohio State Fire Marshall George Schlotterbeck of Hamilton County and United States Congressman Donald C. Clancy (R), who represented the Ohio Second District, which at that time consisted of western Hamilton County.

The Mack Volunteer Fire Department’s motto was “We Serve To Save.” Money to support the department came from a contract with the Green Township Board of Trustees. In the 1960’s, the township paid Mack a yearly flat fee equal to $.32 per $1,000 of property valuation protected. The department also received revenue from its annual festival that was held each Spring at Harvest Home Park in Cheviot. The department also held a turkey raffle each November at the main Bridgetown station. Mack also received donations on a periodic basis from local businesses and citizens.

Throughout the 1960’s and early1970’s, Green Township experienced tremendous growth in housing and population. The department was still able to handle the demands for service using all volunteers. But the need for upgraded equipment such as new pumpers, ambulances/paramedic units, an aerial truck and the desire for a third station in the Covedale area were more than the budget permitted.

In 1975, Green Township Trustees placed a tax levy on the ballot in order to provide additional funds to the department under their contract with Mack. The levy passed, and as a result, Delhi Township Volunteer Fire Department felt they should be getting more money under their contract with Mack to cover the Covedale section of Green Township. The membership at Mack declined to pay a higher fee to Delhi and decided to begin coverage of the Covedale area from the Bridgetown station before the third Mack station was constructed in Covedale. On January 1, 1976, Mack Volunteer Fire Department for the first time in its history, was providing fire and emergency services to all of Green Township.

1976 saw the beginning of paramedic service within Green Township as the first class of paramedics became active. Mack was the first department outside of the City of Cincinnati to have paramedic service. Even though Mack did its own dispatching, Mack units also stayed in communication with Hamilton County dispatch. The first paramedic unit was assigned by both Mack and the Hamilton County Communications as “Medic 1” giving it the distinction of the first paramedic unit in the county outside of the City of Cincinnati.

1976 - MVFD First Paramedic Class

To Be Continued……..

Credit - Much of this history comes from an article believed to be from the Western Hills Press written in the late 60’s to early 70’s by Howard McGehey. While I did not seek or get permission, I hope that Mr. McGehey and the Western Hills Press does not mind us copying much of the article to provide readers this important history.