The Bolivar Volunteer Fire Department was organized on March 28, 1940, by a group of 22 interested Bolivar residents. The gentlemen then voted to purchase their first fire truck, a REO Fire Engine along with hoses, nozzles, and other equipment necessary to fight fires. The purchase of these basic fire-fighting items assured the village of obtaining new lower rates of insurance for residents. The department also signed a contract to provide fire protection to the village for $485.00 the first year, and $700.00 for the next two years.
The small REO Pumper was housed in a village garage, as there was no fire department building constructed yet. In 1944 the newly purchased 1944 Pumper was housed in the local Ford garage. After this second Pumper was paid off in October 1947, a new International Pumper was ordered and built for the department.
Finally a new block building was built in 1951 at the west end of Water Street, where the department remains today. It was built with volunteer labor. A hall for Bingo, with a kitchen was added in 1976. In 1980 a large apparatus building was added. In 1984 a storage garage was added at the back of the property.
In the early days of the fire department, the alarms were announced by a single fire siren mounted on top of a pole at the West end of the village. This was set-off at the chief’s house after the phone was answered. If the Chief wasn’t available, the first fireman coming up Water St would stop and get the address from the Chief’s wife who would be standing outside the house waiting. When they got to the station they would write the location of the emergency on the blackboard for all later arrivals. In December 1972 the firemen purchased a “Fire Bar”. This allowed the emergency calls to simultaneously ring into several fireman’s houses. This was also tied into the pagers the members carried and could be alerted through them. In December of 1994, the county started up the 9-1-1 Dispatch Center, which we are still using today.
The department presently has a contract for fire protection with the village of Bolivar and Lawrence Township for fire & EMS services, and the village of Zoar for EMS services only. Bolivar Volunteer Fire Department belongs to Stark and Tuscarawas County Fire Department Associations and has a mutual aid contract with both. Monday work nights keep the equipment and buildings up to par.
Throughout the years there have been many fund-raisers held. Some of them include Bingo, square dances, chicken barbecues, Fireman’s Festivals, raffles, and building rentals.
Also in the mid-1970’s, the state of Ohio changed regulations on transporting people to hospitals in an emergency. Lebold Funeral Home, the only local ambulance provider notified the department that they would no longer provide this service. Thus, the fire department members started training and in March of 1976 started free EMS service to the community.
As time passed and the community grew the amount of runs dramatically increased. In November of 2002, the residents of Lawrence Township and the Villages of Bolivar and Zoar passed a levy which allowed the department to staff two people from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., seven days a week. These people are firefighters and either EMS or Paramedic qualified, which adds a large-scale flexibility to our emergency responses. Response time has been greatly reduced, and mutual aid requests have been reduced also. At the present time, the department now staffs two people until 10:00 p.m. and with the passage of a renewal levy in November of 2006, will soon be able to staff it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is a great accomplishment for the department and a great benefit for the community we serve.
The department is incorporated and owns all buildings and equipment. The members hold a business meeting each month preceded by an officers’ meeting. There are seven standing committees that help keep things running smoothly.
Fire and EMS training is held each month, with other classes held during the year. Many members travel all around the state to attend state and regional training classes. They then return to the department to pass along the knowledge they received in their training.
Submitted by: Mr. Maurice Lundenburger, Past Chief