The Wickliffe Fire Department was organized in 1916, although our emblem reads 1921. Robert Parkin was the first Fire Chief. After the city’s incorporation in 1921, Wickliffe officially recognized the fire department and Chief Parkin. It also began paying the firefighters.
We were a combination part-time/volunteer fire department from 1916 until August 1, 1946, when two full-time firefighters were hired. Chief David Marinello and Assistant Chief Walter Knapp were the first career firefighters. Now, the Wickliffe Fire Department could be staffed 24 hours a day. When the full time firefighters were not on duty, the station was covered by relief firefighters or part-timers who were paid seventy-five cents per hour. Currently we employ twenty-three career firefighters and additional part-time firefighters to provide around-the-clock staffing.
Back then, due to a lack of telephones, there were long delays between the recognition of a fire and the notification of the Fire Department. The Emergency 911 Phone System wasn’t implemented until decades later, around 1988. When a fire was reported, a siren would sound and firefighters went to the Wickliffe Municipal Center to obtain its location. Someone would take their personal vehicle to where a rickshaw-style buggy holding the fire equipment was stored. It would be tied to their car, and brought it to the scene. This was a time-consuming process since there was not a permanent location where the equipment was kept.
Around 1920, the wheels fell off the “fire cart” while being towed to a call. Fortunately, someone was driving by in a Model-T pickup truck. The equipment was thrown into the truck and taken to the scene. The Wickliffe Fire Department had its first fire truck, a pickup. This truck was used until 1924 when Wickliffe purchased an American LaFrance pumper. “Old Betsy” was in service until retired in 1962.
In 1923, an addition was built onto the Euclid Avenue Municipal Center to house the Police and Fire Departments. This was the first official home of our Fire Department. Over the years, there have been different locations for the Wickliffe Fire Department including:
• 29025 Euclid Avenue
• 28730 Ridge Road
• 29555 Lakeland Boulevard
• 29885 Euclid Avenue (Our current home)
In 1948, the Wickliffe Fire Department purchased another American LaFrance pumper and in 1966 bought its first aerial ladder truck. Today our modern fleet includes two fire engines, a ladder truck, three ambulances, and a hazardous materials truck.
In 1971, the Wickliffe Fire Department began its Emergency Medical Service program. Hospital transport had been previously provided by Wickliffe Police. An ambulance was purchased and basic training was provided to Department members. Today, almost all Wickliffe Firefighters are trained as Paramedics and staff Advanced Life Support ambulances.
In addition to Fire and EMS response, our Department participates in regional specialized teams providing Hazardous Materials/ WMD response, technical rescue, and water rescue.