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History of Oregon Fire Department

Oregon provides a part-time Fire Department with three modern fire stations equipped with the highest quality firefighting equipment.


A full-time Fire Chief, full-time Assistant Fire Chief and three part-time District Fire Chiefs lead more than 100 firefighters.  Firefighting equipment includes seven pumpers, two aerial trucks, one utility/brush truck, and other auxiliary equipment.


The department has a full-time Paramedic Unit; a part of the Lucas County EMS System.  Each of the 3 fire stations have a basic life support (BLS) unit which responds along with the Life Squad.  An additional advanced life support (ALS) unit was recently added at Station 2.


The Oregon Fire Department has a full-time Fire Prevention Bureau under the control of the Assistant Fire Chief.  The Department has, in cooperation with the Toledo Edison Company, BP-Amoco Oil Company and Sun Refining Company, built and maintains one of the State of Ohio’s finest Fire Training Centers. Paramedic Paul Mullen was hired in 2001 as the first full-time Training Officer.  In 2008, the position was changed to that of District Chief in charge of Training; this position is currently filled by Don Wollenbecker Jr.


The Oregon Fire Department was first organized on September 15, 1936 by the first Chief, Paul Blum.  The first meeting was held at the town hall on the corner of Wynn and Seaman Roads.


In 1936, the department had seventy-eight (78) members and training these men was not easy.  Having no equipment, they traveled from township to township training with each one and as a result of this, a great deal of the men withdrew from the department.


Robert Dutton, Chief of the Toledo Fire Department Training School, devoted much time to training the men of the Oregon Fire Department in its early years.


In 1937, the organization petitioned the township trustees for acceptance as a Fire Department.  In 1938, the trustees took action and the Fire Department of Oregon Township was officially organized.  At this point, the department was still without any fire apparatus and equipment.  On August 27, 1938, the trustees adopted a resolution to have a vote for $20,000 in bonds and to levy a tax to pay for them.  This would be for the purchase of two sets of fire apparatus.  The election results were 768 for the issue and 708 against.  The issue failed because under the law a 65% majority of the vote was required for passage.


The trustees again arranged for a second election by adopting a resolution August 31, 1939 for the November 7, 1939 election.  Again the issue failed 879 to 752, this being 53% of the vote.


The law which made it necessary to submit the purchasing of fire equipment to a vote of the people was changed.  This gave the trustees authority to purchase such equipment if they deemed it necessary.


At the April 17, 1941 meeting of the trustees, a Buffalo Triple Fire Engine was purchased for a price of $6,895.


In 1941, a Fire Department housed in Harbor View was organized by the office of Civil Defense and later taken over by Oregon Township in 1947.  Steve Fazekas became Chief of this station.


In 1948, another station was started with the purchase of a 1948 Buffalo Pumper.  The truck was housed in a garage behind Coy School.  Chief of this division was Irving Wodtke


The need for two more stations was necessary.  The lowest bid of $29,098 was accepted and now the Fire Department had three stations:


  • Station No.1    5002 Seaman, at the corner of  Seaman and Wynn Roads;
  • Station No.2    1102 South Wheeling St., near Pickle
  • Station No.3    4421 Bay Shore Road.


On May 25, 1964, John Fletcher was appointed Assistant District Chief of the Fire Prevention Bureau with ten (10) men as Bureau Inspectors.

During the year 1977 the citizens of Lucas County voted for the passage of a levy to create a Life Squad Program.  This organization was called R.E.M.S.N.O. (Regional Emergency Medical Service of Northwest Ohio).  Oregon was selected as one of the Stations for a Life Squad, which is identified as Life Squad 8.


The position of Fireman II (Paramedic) was created by Oregon City Council and the following Firemen II were original members of Life Squad 8:

  •               Kenneth Romstadt
  •               Rick Adams
  •               Lawrence Rothenbuhler
  •               Arnie Cowell
  •               Michael Roe
  •               Thomas Pack
  •               Robert Linville
  •               Don Wollenbecker
  •               Ian McKinley

In 1992 the citizens of Lucas County voted against the renewal of the R.E.M.S.N.O. Levy and instead voted an increase of 3/4% on sales tax and the county took over E.M.S.  On March 8, 2000, the Life Squad answered its 30,000 call since the program was initiated!


On November 28, 1966, Oregon City Council passed an Ordinance creating the position of a full time Fire Prevention Chief.  On March 17, 1967, Thomas Hathaway was appointed to this position.  In 1977, District Chief Hathaway retired and Raymond Walendzak was appointed as Chief of Fire Prevention.


On September 24, 1979, the position of full time Fire Chief was created in the City of Oregon.  In the spring of 1980, Ward Ensign was appointed to this position and became Oregon's first full time Fire Chief.  Following his death, Gene R. Groll was appointed Fire Chief.  The position of Assistant Chief was created and Raymond Walendzak was appointed to this position.  In April of 1986, Chief Groll retired and Raymond Walendzak was appointed the City Fire Chief and in June, 1986, William Flanagan was appointed to Assistant Fire Chief.  On January 31, 2006, Chief Flanagan retired.  His replacement, Bill Wilkins, was appointed Assistant Chief and began working in the position on April 25, 2006.  In 2007 Chief Raymond Walendzak retired, Bill Wilkins was promoted by appointment to City Fire Chief; Paul Mullen was appointed to Assistant Fire Chief.


Through the years, the department has seen four (4) City Chiefs, four (4) Assistant City Chiefs and the following twenty-seven (27) Chiefs:


  • Paul Blum                                               1936-1940
  • Charles Carr                                          1940-1943
  • Larry Couture                                         1943-1944
  • Clair Huss                                               1944-1949


Beginning in 1955, a Department Chief was appointed to take charge of all Stations with three (3) District Chiefs.  Ward Ensign was appointed Department Chief with the following District Chiefs:


Station 1

Station 2

Station 3

Fire Prevention

Arnold Gladieux


Irving Wodtke


Steve Fazekas


Thomas Hathaway


Ward Ensign


Phillip Breno


James Bake


Raymond Walendzak


Melvin Weiler


Dwayne Hartsing


Robert Carpenter


William Flanagan


Harold Konoff


Howard Kundts


William Flanagan


Paul Mullen

(2006 – Present)

Gene Groll


Robert Lamb


Kenneth DeWitt

(1986 – Present)


James Cousino


Mike Snyder




Edward Schweizer


Edward Donnelly




Bob Groll

(2003 – 2007)

Kenneth Fouty

(2005 – Present)



Larry Rothenbuler

(2007 – Present)





[Special Thanks to Asst. Chief Bill Flanagan (Ret.), Author of the majority of this History of Oregon Fire Department]


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