Records do not exist but it is known that the city of Massillon did have a fire department prior to 1853. It is known that the city had a hand pumper, the” Cataract”, the name probably referred to the name of the manufacturer.
In 1853 the city purchased a new hand pumper, the “Vigilant”. It was housed at number one station in the downtown area of the city. It was pulled to the fire by the firemen. It was used until 1872 and is now on display at central fire station.
In 1872 the city purchase a Clapp and Jones steamer. It was housed at number one station and was used until 1911 when the first motorized piece of fire apparatus was purchased. The steamer was too large to be pulled by hand and a team of horses was needed to pull it. At this time the first paid fireman were employed. They were assigned to number one station and cared for the horses and stoked the steamer to insure that steam was up and that it was ready to pump when it reached the scene of the fire.
The four satellite stations were staffed with “minutemen” and each had a hose cart. In 1895 a new central fire station was constructed at City Hall and Factory Streets. This was an impressive structure with a large bell tower and was used until 1970.
In 1906 two new stations were constructed, number two station at Ninth and West Tremont Street (used until 1980) and number three station at Eighth and State Street (used until 1951). These stations were staffed with full time fireman and the four volunteer stations closed. However the minutemen were still used as a auxiliary force until the 1950’s.
A Gamewell fire alarm system was purchased and put in service in 1893. Pull boxes were located throughout the city. When a pull box was activated it caused tower bells at the fire stations to sound. This alerted those on duty at central station as well as the minutemen. These bells could also be manually activated from the central station for calls received by phone or in person.
The department had all motorized apparatus by 1915. Two new pumpers and an aerial were purchased in 1941, followed in 1945 with an additional pumper. All were manufactured by Seagrave which at that time was located in Columbus, Ohio. This apparatus served until the 1960’s when it was replaced with new Seagrave apparatus.
In 1950 the American Red Cross purchased a panel truck and leased it to the city for one dollar a year. This truck was equipped for rescue service including the ability to tow a boat for water emergencies. It was white in color and referred to as the “Disaster Unit” and served the entire western Stark County area. It was in service until 1962 when the city purchased its own unit. At that time service to the western Stark County area was discontinued, except for mutual aid requests, as most areas had organized volunteer fire departments. At the present time the fire department operates four paramedic staffed EMS units. These units responded to over 2400 medical emergencies last year.
New number three station was opened in 1951. Located at Wales Road and Kendall Avenue Northeast it serves the eastern areas of the city. An engine and EMS unit are located here. New central station was opened in 1970. Located at Oak Avenue and Erie Street South it serves the downtown section of the city and backs up the other stations. An engine, EMS unit and aerial tower are operated out of this facility. The administrative offices of the department are located in central station. New number two station was opened in 1980. Located at Seventeenth and Main Avenue West it serves the western areas of the city. An engine and EMS unit are located here. In 1988 number four station was opened at Vista Avenue and Erie Street South. An engine company is housed here. It serves the southern areas of the city. This area is where a lot of the city growth has taken place in the last fifteen years. In 2002 an EMS was assigned to this station.
In 1986 dispatching was moved from the central fire station to the RED (Regional Emergency Dispatch) center. Located in a building at City Hall street and Diamond Court it is a joint venture between the city and Jackson Twp (located immediately north of the city). At the present time the center is dispatching for eight fire departments and four police departments.
Last year the department responded to over 3500 calls for assistance. Response time to most areas of the city is less than four minutes.