SUNBURY — Those who have driven on Olive Green Road are likely to have seen the Porter Kingston Fire District Station 380. It serves those two northeastern townships, as well as a busy stretch of Interstate 71 in Delaware County.
How the fire district came to be is somewhat similar to the history of the area, through separation and support.
According to Porter’s history on the township website, “The former Sunbury Township, formed in 1808, contained the present townships of Harlem, Trenton, Porter, half of Berkshire and half of Genoa, as well as Morrow County’s Peru, Bennington, Lincoln and Harmony townships.”
Over the next several years, there was separation into what are the present townships, with Porter Township being organized circa 1826-1827. The township was named after Philadelphia Judge Robert Porter, who received 4,000 acres in the township for his military service. The crossroads of Olive Green dates back to 1835.
Dave Stites and Chief Michael Thompson wrote a history of the fire district that appears online.
“The Porter Township Fire Department was formed in 1953 by Joe Caudy, Gerald Crowl, Art Kenny and Walter Phillips, and was operated by the Porter Township trustees using general fund dollars,” they write. “The department started with a 1953 Dodge American pumper and had 16 volunteer members under the direction of Fire Chief Gerald Crowl.”
It wasn’t long afterwards that neighboring Kingston Township began contracting with the department. Porter’s trustees remained its administrators, however, both townships used levies to fund its operation. In 1989, the name was changed to the Porter Kingston Fire District. It is independent of the townships’ trustees, yet is governed by a five-person fire board with representatives of each township. Station 380 was built in 1991.
The department’s volunteer firefighters built an addition to the original firehouse, as well as a custom hose truck using an International chassis. The department also purchased new engines, tankers and pumpers. They even used a customized Hummer to fight grass fires.
In 2000, a medic transport vehicle and staff joined Station 380. The next year, the fire district had its first full-time employees. Today, it has several volunteer firefighter/paramedics and firefighter/EMTs. The third fire chief was Larry Caudy, who served from 1972-2005. Captain Michael Thompson was promoted to fire chief, his present position.
“The District is managed in compliance with the National Fire Protection Agency Fire Code and has an ISO Rating of 4/4Y, which benefits residents by lowering home insurance premiums,” the history states. “To address the ongoing growth of our townships, long-term planning efforts are underway focusing on overnight staffing, continued replacement of vehicles and equipment, and construction of a second firehouse to improve response times.”
Recently, Thompson commented on the COVID-19 pandemic. The district is limiting visitors to the foyer of the station, he said. In addition, the district is not doing any inspections and had suspended meetings and in-person training.
“Due to the nature of our district, we had a good supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) in place,” Thompson said. “We were able to acquire additional gowns, face shields, and hand sanitizer in coordination with Delaware County EMS and other county departments. We are currently in a good position with our PPE, and we are also having our N95 masks cleaned by Battelle weekly as we use them.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.