Thomas Township Fire Department
celebrating 50 years of service
The firefighters of the Thomas Township Fire Department will celebrate their 50th anniversary with two open houses.
The first will be held at the recently remodeled and expanded Station Two at the corner of Dice and N. Thomas in Thomas Township. The event will be held from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM , Saturday, August 24, 2013 and will feature station tours and explanation of the fire equipment, robot fire truck and light refreshments.
The second open house will be the popular annual pancake breakfast held from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Sunday, September 29, 2013 at Station One, 355 N. Miller. Besides the great pancakes and sausage served by the firefighters there will be demonstrations, a chance to ask questions about equipment and a robot fire truck for children.
In the early 1960’s, community leaders of Thomas Township decided there was a need for their own fire department instead of relying on fire protection from other communities. Volunteers were recruited and trained, fire trucks purchased and fire stations secured.
It was decided that two stations could better serve the population. The growing population was building homes in the Miller and Gratiot road areas. There were also a significant number of businesses in the area
The main station was a converted municipal building on N. Miller Rd.
It was also felt that the residents in the northern part of the township were a long distance from the main station, and would be better served with another station. The old school at the corner of Dice and N. Thomas was remodeled to house a fire engine.
September 1, 1963 the Thomas Township Fire Department came into existence with two stations, two fire trucks and 34 members of the community serving the 32 square mile community.
The original charter members were led by Chief Dallas Wiltse along with Assistant Chiefs Harold Armstrong, Donald McSweyn, David Eimers and Almarion Sumption. The firefighters were Kenneth Allen, Thomas Aspin, Clifford Bartlett, Robert Berger, Richard Borm, Richard Bouliew, Ralph Bowden, Charles Chantiny, Bill Dennison, Gary Diener, Robert Frost, Kenneth Gauze, Carlyle Gilbert, Ted Glowacki, Robert Kenel, Ed Kragenbrink, Paul Kragenbrink, Marvin Lolmaugh, Roland Marshall, Edwin Matzke, Guy Rayle, George Schmidt, Clarence Schultz, Robert Steele, Duwayne Stockwell, Donald Sumption, Donald Turner, Clarence Wegner and Fred Wenzel.
Training for the firefighters was an 18-hour class. “Our firefighters now attend a five-month long fire academy”, said Michael Cousins, Chief since 2005. “They attend class two nights a week and some Saturdays for just over 400 hours of training. Then there is a three-month Medical First Responder class, to obtain their medical license. Most people think the fire department puts out fires, which we do, but about 75 percent of our calls are for medical issues.”
“It doesn’t stop there” added Assistant Chief Lyle Cousins. “Ongoing training is a must to keep everyone proficient. Our firefighters then attend two department trainings per month” continued the veteran firefighter with over 40 years of service.
Two additional firefighters, Gary Fuller and Warren Wyatt, also have over 40 years with Thomas Township.
Firefighting often runs in the family. “We have had and continue to have a number of father/son, brother/brother or husband/wife firefighters. Chief Cousins boasted. “We now have a father/son and daughter-in-law combination.”
Thomas Township runs a very active fire prevention and fire education program under the direction of Assistant Chief Joe Giacoletti. The 14-year member oversees 250 inspections annually, making sure business are compliant with fire codes. “Fire inspections, not only to make sure the business are operating up to the fire code, but it helps eliminate the potential for fire, which is devastating to the business, community and customer” said Chief Cousins.
Giacoletti also conducts many fire safety programs for youngsters and business. “Last year we reached about 1,200 children through 30 programs” said Giacoletti. “Fires can be terrifying to anyone, especially children. We teach them about the dangers of fire and what to do if they should be in one. Hopefully these are lessons they will retain for a lifetime.”
Thomas Township Fire Department is in a joint venture with Saginaw Township and Bridgeport Fire Departments field a Hazardous Materials Response Team and a Special Rescue Team. As may be surmised, Hazardous Materials deals with that. The Special Rescue team handles the unusual situations, such as a trench or building collapse or high angle situation said the chief
The department has grown to include ten responding trucks operating out of two modern stations with 35 firefighters serving 12,000 residents.
“Most people think of all fire vehicles as fire trucks” chuckled Assistant Chief Cousins. “All of them have different names to firefighters. Presently we have three front line engine/pumpers, an aerial ladder truck and two rescue trucks. Other rolling equipment includes a brush truck, two utility trucks, a boat and fire inspectors truck. All of these are housed in the two stations.”
Chief Cousins explained, “For example the engine/pumpers are the first vehicles that leave the station for a fire. They are staffed with five firefighters and carry 1,000 to 1,500 gallons of water, depending on the vehicle. They can fight a tremendous amount of fire before the next arriving units connects to a hydrant. Often the fire is extinguished without need of additional water a hydrant supplies.
“Our rescue vehicles carry medical equipment so that we can handle anything from a simple fall to a cardiac arrest.
“Our trucks also carry hydraulic cutting equipment used in helping free people trapped in motor vehicle crashes.
“We are fortunate to have some of the finest equipment available. Our firefighters are more than happy to show and explain the equipment we have. That is one of the reasons we are holding the open house.
“After all, the equipment is paid for by our residents. They should stop by and see what it is all about.
“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the support of our community” summed up Chief Cousins. “The voters, our customers, have been overwhelmingly supportive with millage funding. The Township Board and Manager are very supportive in helping make Thomas a safe community to live in.”
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