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In 1913, Ben and and King Thompson acquired vacant land north of 5th Avenue and East of the Scioto River in an attempt to develop the area into a residential neighborhood. But due to the ongoing Mexican American War, the area was made into a war encampment named Camp Willis. As the city of Upper Arlington began to grow, adequate fire protection became increasingly more important.
Initially, the city of Columbus was the obvious answer; the Columbus fire department had already been established two decades earlier. But as Upper Arlington grew, response times from downtown Columbus became an issue. By 1924, the City of Grandview department assumed fire protection for Upper Arlington. In January 1927, the Ohio Inspection Bureau advised Upper Arlington that if fire equipment was not made more readily available, the citizens and the city could expect a 30% increase in insurance costs.
Thus, by 1930 the City of Upper Arlington began to make preparations to provide their own fire services. On November 5 1930, E.G Dillow was appointed the first fire chief. Upper Arlington purchased its first fire truck (Engine 1) in October 1930.
In 1937, the American Red Cross established a presence in the city municipal building, in an attempt to help with medical services in the area. This was the first of many steps towards integrating the fire service and EMS into the city.
In September 1941, a train derailed near Trabue Road spilling tens of thousands gallons of crude oil. Fire crews had to use 5 engines and 6,300ft of supply hoses for the incident. To date, it is the most amount of hose utilized on a single incident in UAFD history. By 1945, UAFD and other local fire departments recognized the importance of mutual aid agreements that complied with state law, and by 1947 the mutual aid agreements began to go into effect. The city of Upper Arlington continued to grow and by 1950 the city had expanded to nearly 7 miles and the population increased to 9,042 people.
At this time, the city began to consider opening an additional fire station on Zollinger Road to protect the North side of the city. Chief Sam Foster voiced the importance of opening a second fire station. The location of the future fire station was moved to Reed Road and Fishinger Road, in an attempt to provide better fire protection for the North side of the city. On December 27th 1959, Upper Arlington opened its second station (Station 72), as the crowning achievement to end at the time Chief Foster's career.
Unfortunately, in April 1955, the firefighters suffered their first and only Line of Duty Death, LT. Jack C O'Donnell. LT O'Donnell suffered heart failure due to smoke inhalation, after a working fire within the City.
On January 1st 1961, William L. Montgomery was appointed to be the new fire chief. Soon after he developed the home inspection program which later developed into the fire prevention program. In 1964, the department purchased its second fire engine, a 1962 Pirsch. In 1965, the firefighters had expanded its personnel to 29 individuals and one dog unit. Sparky the Fire Dog was added to the division to help with fire prevention.
By 1968, the International Associations of Fire Fighters (IAFF) had formally recognized the Upper Arlington Firefighters as a part of the union. Our chapter became known as Upper Arlington Firefighers Local 1521.
Groundbreaking work began on a third fire station, Station 7, on August 30, 1971. The new station was built to cover the northwest area of Upper Arlington. By 1972, the city had grown to 9.5 square miles with a population of nearly 40,000 with construction of the Municipal Services Center (MSC) on Tremont Road.
Following the opening of the MSC, the Fire Division’s administrative offices were moved from the original City Hall. The older building, following adoption of a new regional apparatus and station numbering system, became Fire Station 71.
Local 1521 has a rich history of competing on the local and international level in a multitude of different competitions. In 1974, the division was awarded the world championship trophy by the International Rescue and First Aid Association
Near Christmas time in 1980, two adults and four children passed in a residential fire, making it the single most tragic fire in UAFD (Local 1521) history. In response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as a part of the Ohio Task Force 1, UAFD (Local 1521) deployed several members to assist at the World Trade Center. They spent nearly ten days working to help rescue victims.
By 2005, the city had celebrated its 75th anniversary. The fire division sought out and restored the original 1930 Seagrave fire engine truck (formally known as Engine 1). The truck has been restored to a running condition, and remains in this condition today. Currently, Engine 1 can be seen sitting in front of the current Station 72 building.
In 2008, Station 72 was demolished, and the new Station 72 building opened just next to the previous station.
Upper Arlington Fire Department (Local 1521)
PO. Box 21257
Columbus, OH 43221