Port Clinton Fire Chief Kent Johnson is on a special mission to pay homage to past firefighters that served on his department. “Due to a substantial donation earlier this year, we are taking on a huge project to honor those who came before us in the department,” said Chief Johnson. “We are huge history buffs, so this is a great project for us.”
The chief intends to place grave memorial markers on each grave of the Port Clinton Firefighters in the area, but he is having some trouble locating them all.
“We have used old yearbooks and rosters and we have a pretty substantial list compiled,” said Chief Johnson, “but I am confident it is not complete.”
The department started in 1870 as the Bainbridge Fire Brigade. Citizens of that time would make donations to the fire department and a plaque was purchased for their house. “If your house was on fire and you had the plaque they’d put it out, if it didn’t, they’d let it burn,” said Chief Johnson.
Based on the records the chief has found, the first formal village fire department formed in 1900.
“We are learning a tremendous amount about our history in this project that we have taken on,” said Chief Johnson. “I have 160 names of past firefighters, but I know there are more. I went to City Hall and researched, but could only find half of the grave locations.”
The ultimate goal of the project is to locate every grave and honor each firefighter. Chief Johnson is putting out a call: If anyone in the community has had a mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, an aunt or uncle that was a Port Clinton Firefighter call Chief Johnson and let him know their time of service, their name, their death date, where they are buried and their rank. Those with information are encouraged to call 419-734-3430 and leave a message with a return number so Chief Johnson can contact them.
Lakeview Cemetery will be the first to receive the grave memorial markers, then Riverview Cemetery. The chief was insistent that every firefighter they find will be honored with a marker eventually. The markers will also be taken down in the winter and put up in the spring.
Those interested in making monetary donations should donate to the Port Clinton Firefighters Association which is a 501 C3 organization. Donations can be brought to the firehouse or given to any Port Clinton Firefighter.
Chief Johnson stated, “We are putting together quite the history.”