The earliest records show that this group started after the fire of 1893, with the following officers:
A.A. Simmons, Chief
J.W. Stiger, Asst. Chief
John Harmon, Engineer
D.P. Trumble, Asst. Engineer
A.F. Basey, Treasurer
A.A. Heltman, Clerk
The department was reorganized in 1947 as a completely volunteer organization.
In 1961, the Wayne Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary was formed to provide refreshments while the men were fighting fires. The ladies auxiliary from the Bradner Fire Department helped Wayne form their unit. The women were put in charge of the kitchen and they held many money-making projects in order to raise funds needed to equip the kitchen with utensils needed to run it efficiently. The men also trained the women to “man” the radio so that the firemen could be in communication with their base station at all times.
The first big fire in Wayne (Prarie Depot) was in August of 1893. It began on the southeast section of the business district at Main and Center Streets, and consumed most of the buildings, including a three-story hotel and the Village Council Room which housed the Village Archives. This is the fire that prompted the townspeople to organize a volunteer fire company. However, in 1898 a proposal for a waterworks was defeated by a vote of 88 to 53.
The second big fire occurred at 10:00 p.m. on January 7, 1900. This fire began on the northeast corner of Main and Center Streets. It destroyed the entire business district east of the origin. Work on rebuilding this section was begun immediately. Instead of frame buildings, brick was chosen in an attempt to foil fire.
However, before recovery from this disaster was completed, fire struck again. This fire started on July 6, 1900 in the rear of a restaurant on the west side of South Center Street, and destroyed the buildings on the southwest corner of Main and Center Streets. The fire jumped Main Street to the north and traveled north along the west side of Center Street to North Street. The fire also jumped east over Center Street to the schoolhouse cupola, but was stopped before major damage was done to the school.
After this fire, all of the business district had suffered from fire. Three-fourths of it had been laid bare within six months. One month after this fire, the second within a year, the townspeople again voted on the question of the waterworks. This time the issue passed with a vote of 186 to 11. The public waterworks system was put into service about 1907.
Another large fire on July 6, 1912 destroyed a grain elevator. At 4:00 a.m., the fire was discovered “leaping from the top of the elevator”. Al Hawkins notified the telephone office and jumped into his car and drove around town honking his horn when the town alarm failed to ring. This fire pointed out the need for a reliable and accessible fire alarm system.
The firefighting technique in 1893 was the bucket brigade. The first two-wheeled cart carrying fire hose was acquired around 1900, about the time the water tower and distribution system were built. This cart was pulled to the fire scene by the firefighters. The first motorized pumper, purchased in 1928, was a Ford Prospect Model A. It is still owned by the department, and still is capable of pumping water. Subsequent purchases followed:
1945 Army surplus International Pumper
1957 New Red Ford Fire Truck
1974 Ford American Pumper (Largest pump capacity in the county at the time – 1000 GPM)
1976 Chevrolet Equipment Van
1983 Ford 4-Wheel Drive Grass Fire Truck
1994 International Darley Pumper, 1000 GPM Pump, 1200 Gallon Tank
1996 Dodge First-Out Mini Pumper/Grass Rig, 400 GPM Pump, 300 Gallon Tank (replaced 1983 Ford)
1998? Converted 1974 Ford Pumper to an 1800 Gallon Tanker
2007 International 4-Guys Tanker, 500 GPM Pump, 1800 Gallon Tank (replaced 1974 Ford)
The fire department was housed in the old schoolhouse at Center and North Streets until 1958. At this time, the village purchased the building, demolished it, and built the current building. In 1952, firemen began attending the firefighters school in Findlay for more advanced training. State law now requires that firefighters attend 36 hours of basic training within 12 months of joining the department. An additional refresher course is required every three years to keep up to date on new techniques.