Summit Township Fire Department History


The Summit Township Fire department can trace it's beginnings to a meeting at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Carver, 600 Cass Avenue, in the Fall of 1940. Citizens of the Vandercook Lake area, concerned about the response time of the County pumper operated by the City of Jackson Fire Department, met with Jackson Chief Ernest Daunter, who suggested that they form a volunteer fire department. Subsequently, a ballot placed before township residents on April 7, 1941 authorized the purchase of fire equipment and the department's first fire truck.

Later that year a 1941 Chevrolet powered Detroit-General fire apparatus was placed in service at the new fire station, located at the corner of Francis St. and McDevitt Avenue. Floyd Morey was the first Fire Chief.

In 1944 Floyd Morey resigned and was replaced by Ben Taylor. In 1946 Floyd Morey returned as Chief.

In 1947 the department added a converted fuel tanker to it's fleet to be used as a water tanker. Later that year a John Bean High Pressure Fog fire truck was purchased for $7285.00. on December 18, 1947 the Firemen's Club was organized.

In early 1948 Roy ray was named Chief, only to be discharged in November of that year. He was replaced by Donald Harris.

In 1949 the Board authorized the purchase of a resuscitator.

In 1950 the Board authorized the purchase of property at the corner of 17th Street and Carlton Blvd for the purpose of remodeling the township hall into a fire station and to provide for living quarters for the Fire Chief. An International-General fire truck was also placed in service that year.

In 1953 the Board minutes indicate that Duane Harrington was Fire Chief.

On March 13, 1956 Bruce Parrot was named Fire Chief, John Millican Assistant Chief and Harry Duffield was hired as a full time firefighter. 1956 also saw the Firemen's club re-activated after a 5 year hiatus. The Club was very active in fund raising and became very involved in the Vandercook community through potluck dinners, recreation nights, Holiday theme dinners, Christmas tree sales and the Annual Ice Cream Social.

This era also saw the formation of the Firebelles, our Ladies Auxiliary. These women supported the department at late night fires with coffee and food as well as assisting at the annual Ice Cream Socials.

In 1959 John Millican was named Chief, Harry Duffield Assistant Chief and Harvey (Bill) Thornton hired as a full time firefighter. In 1962 the Board began discussing adding a second twenty four hour shift. At this time the three full time employees worked six days per week, twenty four hours per day. On May 28, 1963 an additional firefighter was hired to provide for two firefighters to work alternating twenty four hour shifts. Three firefighters were also assigned to work nine hour shifts during the week days, when volunteers were not typically available.

In October 1963 John Millican resigned to take a position as firefighter with the City of Jackson, and Don King was named Chief. In December of that year the department placed a converted Police car in service as a Rescue vehicle.

In1964 the Board was made aware of State labor Laws regarding the maximum number of hours per week the full time firefighters could work. This resulted in hiring an additional firefighter to cover the extra time off (an additional day off every 16 calendar days).

In July of 1966 the full time firefighters voted to be represented by the International Association of Fire Fighters. Charter members of Local 1639 were Ed French, Garth Hyliard, Lee Cope, Jim Nedry, Bob Sharp and Clarence Updyke.

In October of 1967 the Board authorized $3255.46 for the purchase of a new Rescue truck. In December of that year the department entered into an agreement with Spring Arbor Township to serve as call takers and dispatchers for the Spring Arbor fire department.

In 1968 the Firemen's Club purchased a used 1963 station wagon to be equipped as a Rescue unit for the Belmont station.

Don King resigned as Chief in November 1969, succeeded by Forrest Holcomb.

Forrest Holcomb resigned his position as Chief in September 1971, succeeded by Harry Duffield. In June of 1973 John Worden was named Chief.

In October of 1973 the 911 emergency phone system was established, operated by the Jackson County Office of Emergency Measures.

In May of 1974 the department completed the first formal Basic Firefighting class. Twenty-six members of the department graduated from this program, mandated by State laws established concerning firefighter safety. The department purchased it's first radio paging devices to be carried by off duty personnel at this time. In April of 1976 the department purchased it's first portable two way radio.

In October of 1976 the department moved from the corner of 17th Street and Carlton to 2507 Spring Arbor Road. The old Huddle Inn restaurant was remodeled to serve as a fire station.

In 1978 two Pierce Attack pumpers were placed in service. These units, on 4 x 4 Chevrolet chassis, served the two stations as rescue vehicles. In September of that year 44 new pagers were purchased by the Township for $11,535. The Firemen's Club reimbursed the Township for the cost of these pagers over a five year period.

In July of 1983 the department added a third fire station, 2121 Ferguson Road. Originally constructed as a DPW garage adjacent to the Township Hall, the building was remodeled to accommodate twenty four hour personnel. The Spring Arbor Road station (Station 2) and the Francis Street Station (Station 3) were manned by the squad system (volunteer firefighters). There was significant opposition to this program from both the full time firefighters as well as residents in the Spring Arbor Road area.

In 1984 the township purchased fifty ten pound dry chemical fire extinguishers, to be carried in trunks of full time and POC members private vehicles. In 1984 the township also voted to contribute $2000 towards the purchase of a portable air compressor, to be shared by all fire departments in the County.

In 1985 the department placed into service a new Pierce 1250 gpm pumper with a 1000 gallon water tank at a cost of $89,913.

In 1986 an identical truck was delivered from Pierce at a cost of $95,038.

In 1986 the department entered into a county wide Mutual Aid Agreement. Also in 1986 the department purchased it's first computer. On March 31, 1986 Assistant Chief Harry Duffield retired after 30 years of service.

In July of 1986 bids were let in the amount of $44,000 for a new steel building, to be erected at 106 W. McDevitt and serve as the new Station 3.

In October of 1986 52 new pagers were purchased at a cost of $21,500. The Firemen's Club agreed to pay $10,000 of this cost.

In 1989 the department placed in service a Pierce Dash custom pumper equipped with a 1250 gpm pump and 1000 gallons water tank. This truck, which cost $135,000, replaced Engine 2.

In December of 1992 the Township placed in service a new Dodge 4 x 4 equipped with a skid mount pump and snow plow. This unit, designated T-1, would be used for grass fires and as a utility vehicle.

In September of 1994 the department placed in service a new Dodge extended body rescue vehicle. Equipped with hydraulic extrication tools, first aid equipment and confined space rescue equipment, this unit would be used to respond to medical emergencies, vehicle accidents and to any confined space rescue of the Townships Department of Public Works employees. All full time department employees became certified to the confined space entrant level so as to be listed as the designated rescue personnel for the DPW employees.

In August of 1996 the department placed in service a new Pierce Saber 1250 gpm pumper with a 1000 gallon water tank. This unit also was equipped with a "cascade air system" capable of refilling our SCBA tanks at the scene of emergency incidents.

In 1996 we also retrofitted all SCBA with Personal Alarm Safety Signal (PASS) devices. These devices go into alarm when a firefighter is immobile for an established period of time or when exposed to high heat. The audible alarm is intended to assist in locating a "downed" firefighter.

In January of 1997 John Worden retired and Garth Hyliard was promoted to Chief. Wyman Godfrey was promoted to Assistant Chief.

In June of 1999 Garth Hyliard and Jerry Kuntz retired. Michael Hendges was hired as Fire Chief and B.J. Warner was hired to replace Jerry Kuntz.

In the Spring of 1999 the Township Board hired Almont Associates of Almont, Colorado to conduct a needs assessment of the fire department. On e of the recommendations was to staff the station located on Spring Arbor Road 24 hours per day with full time employees due to the increase in requests for service in this district. The department had been staffed 9 hours per day, 5 days per week with full time employees, and Paid On Call (Volunteer) employees the remainder of the week. This required the hiring of 4 additional full time employees, and was accomplished in October of 1999.

In an effort to provide a higher level of medical care to our growing community, all full time employees who were not already Emergency Medical Technicians or Paramedics became EMT's in 2001. This allowed us to upgrade our level of medical licensure from Medical First Responder to Basic Life Support non-transport.

In 2002 our Station 2, 2507 Spring Arbor Road was demolished and a new station constructed in its place. The old station, originally a restaurant, was in need of serious remodeling or rebuilding. After looking at several potential locations for a new fire station, it was determined that the existing site was best located to serve the needs of this district. During the construction of the new station, the personnel co-located with City firefighters at Jackson Station 2, located at 1906 S. Milwaukee St.. Firefighters moved into the new station in mid-November ,2002.

In 2002 the department placed in service two Rescue vehicles, 1999 Ford F-450 4 x 4 diesel quick response vehicles with aluminum compartments manufactured by E-One. The units feature 300 gallon water tanks, 350 gpm pumps driven by a separate diesel engine and have 20 gallons of Class A foam concentrate which is injected via a Foam Pro 2001 system. The units have two 1 ¾" speed lays as well as a booster reel. We added Honda generators and tele-lights as well as a 14' ladder.

On January 20, 2005 Captain Scott A. Thornton died in the line of duty while fighting a structure fire on Browns Lake. His death is the first line of duty death in the history of the department.