Those who fight fires often forge a strong bond. The men and women in a fire house become family; living, eating, and socializing together. When one of these courageous people perishes in a fire it can be devastating to their comrades and the community. Perhaps some of these departed souls linger. Do the spirits of some fire fighters remain at the station to watch over their brothers and sisters? Some believe this could be the case in a town in Northern Ohio
Date: July 10, 2021
Location: 11450 W Sylvania Ave Berkey OH
Before 1943, Richfield Township and the Village of Berkey had very little in the way of fire protection. If a fire broke out anywhere in the area, Metamora or Sylvania Fire Departments were called. Since they were miles away, the arrival of a fire crew was often too late to save someone’s home or barn. The Berkey Lumber and Grain Company, or “Berkey Elevator” as it was known, realized the need for some sort of protection. They actually organized a fire brigade using their employees as volunteers. Whenever a fire was reported these men would load fire extinguishers and water buckets on a company truck and rush to the scene. They would battle the blaze until neighboring fire departments would arrive. This type of firefighting was certainly unsatisfactory and the very real danger of a fire tragedy was always present.
It was the year 1943 when a group of men in a small community saw a need and decided to do something about it. They set out to provide fire and rescue services to the residents of Richfield Township and the Village of Berkey, Ohio.
The following was taken from the 1993 annual report titled, “The 50th anniversary of the Berkey Fire Department in Richfield Township”. It was written by past Fire Chief James Farley and he couldn’t have said it better.
“Our deepest respect goes out to these men who unselfishly put the welfare of their friends and neighbors ahead of their own personal comfort. They realized the need for a local fire department and had the fortitude to set forth and create the Berkey Volunteer Fire Department. Starting out with nothing but good intention and iron clad resolve, these men formulated a constitution and set of By-Laws to govern their fledgling organization; found a place to house their first fire truck; located a place to hold meetings and learn through training the art of firefighting.”
The recruitment of firefighters was explained below by Pete Durbin in his publication “Berkey Auxiliary Fire Department, Richfield Township, Civilian Defense Corp”.
“William (Bill) Farley and Otis (Stub) Clough had a spaghetti supper for several young men in the area. Those who came, were from Richfield Township, the Village of Berkey and from Riga Township in Michigan. By the end of the evening, the idea of a local volunteer fire department had been explained and the new recruits had signed on”.
On December 8th, 1943 John Sanderson, Jim Schwen and William Farley picked up equipment at Oregon Township Fire Department and brought it to Berkey. It was stored in Pete Janney’s two bay garage at the north end of his store (the present Keeler’s Korner).
On December 10th, 1943 a dream came true for 30 men with the official formation of the “Berkey Fire Department”. The Richfield Township Trustees agreed to create the fire department for the community and pay for the equipment the department needed to get started. This made the department a public department, depending on area taxes for its support. The Village of Berkey agreed to pay 500 dollars a year for fire protections.
Regular meetings were held and the department began to make plans for the future. The meetings were held above Pete Janney’s store above the garage where the equipment was stored.
If someone needed the fire department they called Pearl Rowan, the telephone operator. She would plug in all the firemen’s phone lines together and ring the phones ten short rings. John Sanderson, one of the firemen would set off the siren, an old steam whistle located on top of his gas station.
The first fire run was July 15, 1944 for a wheat stubble fire on the John Zenk farm.
The firemen were determined to help support their newly developed fire department by creative fundraisers. In 1945 they hosted 8 dances at the “Old Fellows Hall” in Berkey as a way to raise funds for equipment and a future station. Other fund raisers included collecting scrap iron and newspapers which were in demand because of the war. In November of 1945, the department hosted their first major fundraiser which is still a tradition today. The first “Feather Party” was held at “Ott”s Warehouse” (located at the southeast corner of Sylvania Metamora and Berkey Southern Rd.). There were many prizes to draw the crowds including a refrigerator, washing machine, mix-master, 100# of sugar and a hunting coat.
Two residents, Herman Bell and Frank Schmitz donated the land where the first station was built.
The members were able to start construction of the first fire station. In 1948 the fire station was built through the determined, enthusiastic tireless efforts of its members. It was located on a lot north of Sylvania Metamora Rd. on Berkey Southern Rd. The department members continued to work hard at fund raisers to assist with the funding of the new station. They were responsible for the majority of the labor which enabled them to build the station with limited funds.
After legal consultation in 2002, it was decided to change the name to Richfield Township Fire Department. A new station was built in the center of the township in 2005. Today we have 2 firefighters on duty during the day. The volunteers continue to respond to emergencies 24 hours a day, (7) seven days a week.
We do know of several deaths linked to both the old fire station and the new station.
- Charlie Adair, a volunteer fire fighter and catholic school teacher, stopped on the way to school to assist at an accident site. She was struck by a motorist and died from her injuries
- George Cox, Sr. died of a heart attack at the old fire house. He was the dispatcher
- When the heating and air conditioning was being installed at the new firehouse (2003-2005?) a worker died of cardiac arrest. His name is not known
- Sounds of chairs sliding across the floor in the kitchen area
- TV suddenly comes on to a religious channel
- Shadow play throughout the building from the corner of the firefighters’ eyes
- Feeling of being watched, especially in the dorm area
- All of the cabinet doors in the kitchen were opened in the morning. The chief was the last to leave and the first one in the next day. Finding the kitchen in a state that was not left the night before.
- Women’s shower turns on randomly. Only in the women’s restroom. Also, that restroom is always cold.
- The sounds of doors opening and closing even though they latch shut.
- Mezzanine has unexplained noises.
- An old Willys Jeep sat in the old fire department for many years and moved to the new station. The decision was made to sell the Jeep, but the “old timers” were against selling it. Once sold, activity picked up
In 2005, the Mobile Stroke Unit was housed at this firehouse and was the only unit that was there 24/7. They had the same claims as the current firefighters
The Fringe Paranormal team arrived at the fire station at 7 pm. After we brought in our equipment our host gave us a tour of the building and told us about the strange things that had been occurring. With this knowledge in hand we developed a game plan for the evening. Tonight we opted to use our wireless video cam system. We placed Cam 1 in the garage on the fender of a fire truck. We set Cam 2 in the ladies restroom. Cam 3 would capture the kitchen area, especially the cabinets. We set up Cam 4 in the dorms. In addition to Cam 1 we also placed a Rem pod on the fire truck fender in the garage. We set a motion detector up in the mezzanine as well. Rem pods also stood sentry in the ladies room with Cam 2 and in the dorm on one of the beds to compliment Cam 4. As is our usual habit we placed a stationary voice recorder on site. In this case we opted to set it on the floor in the dorm rooms. Several team members carried roaming voice recorders with them. As we entered each different area of the building we sat for a few minutes to take in the ambiance and get a feel for the area and its natural noise and light. We carried out EVP sessions throughout the evening.
The active areas on this night turned out to be the garage and the dorm rooms. Our Rem pod went off a few times in the garage. At one point, while sitting up in the mezzanine, Kelly and Caroline (our host) both thought they heard some kind of footsteps on the floor by the trucks. Caroline also said she thought she heard voices. Due to ambient noise (humming or static) from some machinery (perhaps an air conditioning unit) neither the footsteps nor the voices can be heard on our audio. These events were sometime prior to 9:45 pm.
We also noticed some activity in the dorm rooms. The Rem pod activated several times. Several times it seemed as if it were activating on command. Around 11:45 pm while watching our video cam feed at our base of operations we noticed some flashes of light towards the back of the dorm room. We examined video footage obtained in other areas of the building around the same time. We noticed car headlights at one point in the evening but they did not mimic what the dorm camera captured. There were fireworks that evening but they ended prior to the light flashes in the dorm. We also came to the conclusion that the anomalies were not caused by any lights or devices in the room.
At around 1:00 am we ended the investigation for the evening.
While we can not necessarily say the Rem pod activity was paranormal, it was, nonetheless, interesting. We do not know what set off the devices. We did not uncover any EVPs on our audio and as stated earlier, errant background noise drowned out possible footsteps and voices heard by our investigators in the garage. The video from the dorm rooms was quite interesting. We tried several experiments to explain the light flashes naturally. We ruled out car lights coming through the window. We had a trap cam in the TV room and noted that there were no flashes through those windows at the time we noted the flashes in the dorm rooms. If fireworks were an explanation we would expect the flashes to be seen in the windows in both areas. As that was not the case we feel somewhat comfortable in ruling that out as a natural explanation. We do have a thought that perhaps a firefly could have been the culprit. Its possible that a firefly could have gotten between the shade and the window, which would amplify its natural flash. We can not verify this theory however. While we can not explain this event we are inclined to believe there is some sort of natural explanation. We can not discount the experiences of the fire house personnel. We did experience enough activity to verify suspicions of unusual activity at this location.
*We log weather and other data for research purposes in an attempt to find patterns among different investigation locations
- Andy M
|Moon||waning crescent 1% of full Age 3%|
- Minimum Temperature 57.9 °F
- Mean Temperature 69.7 °F
- Maximum Temperature 79.0 °F
- Pressure and Dew Point
- Mean Sea Level Pressure 30.04 IN
- Mean Dew Point 57.9 °F
- Total Precipitation .02 IN
- Visibility 10.0 MI
- Wind Speed and Gusts
- Mean Wind Speed 4.83 MPH
- Maximum Sustained
- Wind Speed 13.81 MPH
Prepared by Don Collins for Fringe Paranormal
Leave a Reply