Fire mission still burns strong

Perrysburg Township Fire Chief Tom Brice with
original 1961 Pumper truck. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)

LIME CITY – After five decades and tens of thousands of fire and EMS runs, the
mission of the Perrysburg Township Fire Department remains the same: to protect
and to serve.
"I’m always willing to help the community," said Bob Warnimont, a 48-year
veteran of the department, who continues to volunteer and serves as department
"When I took my fire training, my instructor back then, he says, ‘Just remember
one thing, gentlemen, that your job is to protect and serve, protect the
people’s property and serve them in any way that you can.’"
The department began responding to calls in 1962 after the passing of a half-mill
operating levy by the township in 1960. Clamer J. Goeke served as the first
In an interview last year with the Sentinel-Tribune, former chief Mike Dimick, who
served with the department for 40 years, recalled his start with the then
all-volunteer department in 1972 after his father joined the same year.
Those were "the good old days," he said at the time. "Riding on the
back of the fire trucks was still allowed back then. That was back in the days
of the old rubber coats and plastic helmets."
At the time, the department had approximately 70 volunteers between its two fire
stations, with equipment consisting of "an engine at each station, we had a
tanker at each station," said Dimick, and a converted bread truck to serve
as an ambulance. Until the mid-1970s, Witzler-Shank Funeral Home operated
ambulances for the township, a common practice at the time. The township
subsequently created the Perrysburg Township Emergency Medical Services in 1976.

The department became a full-time EMS department after the passage of a 1987 ballot
initiative, and the fire department became full time 10 years later. Both
departments combined under one roof in 2004.
"Hard to believe, in a couple ways," said current Fire Chief Tom Brice of
the anniversary. "It’s had to believe it’s been 50 years, but at the same
time it seems like the department’s been around forever. But it hasn’t. It’s
only been since 1962 when they first went into service. It’s been through a lot
of changes over the years and to think about what it’s going to be like in
another 50 years is pretty incredible."
Despite the milestone, Brice noted that it’s not a major topic of conversation around
the station. The main focus is the passage of a 4-mill continuing levy for the
department on the November ballot.
"I think a lot of people’s minds are focused on the levy and making sure that
we’re around for another 50 years versus the past 50 years. There’s very few of
our membership anymore that were even in the area when the department was
Warnimont noted that he joined the department in 1964 by following the lead of a
family member.
"My brother was on the department. He got me interested in joining because when
he was at home and I was at home, I used to chase fires with him and see what
it’s like."
Today, the department is responsible for the coverage of 40 square miles, and boasts
18 full-time and 25 part-time personnel. More than 1,500 calls are handled by
the department each year, with 80 percent of them being medically related.
As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, and in accordance with National Fire
Prevention Week, the department is holding an open house Saturday between 11
a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Public Safety Building, 26711 Lime City Road. The event
will feature a live burn demonstration at 1 p.m.

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