Firemen save lives…and keep a tidy house, too

By Regina Villiers.  Originally published October 4, 1995 in The Suburban Life, added June 14, 2014

Robert Coy (left), chief of the Madeira and Indian Hill Fire Department, and Dan McDonald, president of the board of trustees, proudly display the department's new pumper, Engine No. 2.

Robert Coy (left), chief of the Madeira and Indian Hill Fire Department, and Dan McDonald, president of the board of trustees, proudly display the department’s new pumper, Engine No. 2.


Recently I experienced one of life’s highs, a moment in time that would make me the envy of every kid who ever grew up wanting to be a fireman.

I was given a personal tour through both stations of the Madeira and Indian Hill Fire Department by Robert Coy, the fire chief, and Dan McDonald, the president of the board of trustees.

Before that, I knew only to dial 9-1-1 in case of a fire or medical emergency and to hope someone would come running.

Now I can tell you that not only will people come running, but they’re skilled, efficient people who live calm, efficient lives behind those firehouse walls while waiting for your emergencies.

The Madeira and Indian Hill Fire Department serves both cities with two different stations.  The Indian Hill station is located at Shawnee and Drake roads, and the Madeira station is at Miami and Euclid.  Certain facilities are housed at each station.  Both stations respond to a call and the first vehicle at the scene sizes up the need for more help or a disregard if no other help is needed.

I began my adventurous morning at Chief Coy’s office, located at the Indian Hill station.  He has been chief for 15 years, since 1980.  Before that he was fire chief of the Northern Hills District.  He started out as a volunteer fireman, then went full time and came up through the ranks.

The current pride and joy of the whole department, a shiny new pumper, is also housed at the Indian Hill station.

The pumper replaces a 1967 truck, which will be sold at auction soon with a minimum bid of $5000.

The new Engine No. 2, with increased pumping capacity, has more advantages than can be described.

Firemen no longer have to get ready and hang onto the truck on the way to the scene.  There’s a special place for them to ride inside with their equipment readily available, so that they can get ready en route to the scene.

The truck has department doors that roll up instead of opening out, a big advantage in tight spaces.

A most important feature of the new truck is that it’s equipped with the “Passport” system, enabling the firemen to check their names when they go into a burning building.  This is an important safety precaution for the firemen.

The new truck, bought in mid-July at a cost of $264,000, has a life expectancy of 20 years.

Three trucks are housed at Indian Hill.  One is a rescue truck and carries rescue equipment.

Two ambulances and the paramedics are stationed at Madeira under the direction of Dean Winkleman.  The department has 17 paramedics, including part-timers.

Vehicle maintenance is located at the Indian Hill and all training sessions are held there in the meeting and conference room.

A board of trustees, headed by president Dan McDonald, oversees the fire department.  All members, including McDonald, serve without pay.  McDonald has been on the board since 1978.

Chief Coy is the president for this year and next year of the Hamilton County Fire Chiefs Association.  The departments in this group give and receive aid in fires too big to be handled by one department alone.

The Madeira and Indian Hill Fire Department has 16 full-time employees, in addition to part-time firemen.  Chief Coy says there are no longer any strictly “volunteer” firemen.

The most impressive thing to me is the skill and efficiency requirements of firemen.  It would take a special individual to be a firefighter today.

For starters, all new full-time firemen hired since 1985 have to be certified emergency medial technicians.

And all full-time firemen have to be certified to drive the big pumpers.  This thought occurred to me as I watched Chief Coy expertly drive the new pumper outside for my inspection and for picture-taking.  Driving and maneuvering one of these babies is no small feat.

I also discovered that a fireman has to endure long hours and must have good housekeeping skills.  Firemen work 24-hour shifts and they’re off 48 hours.  This means they must live and sleep at the firehouse.

There are modern kitchens at each house as well as living quarters and dormitory space and bath facilities are provided for women paramedics.  There are no full-time women firefighters in the department.

There are lounges at both stations and a fully equipped weight and exercise room at the Madeira station.

Each station has a laundry room, for beds are changed and laundry is done each day.

Bothe stations are so neat and clean that they’d pass any white glove test.  If only my house and kitchen looked as good.

Each year the department observes Fire Prevention Week by giving programs and demonstrations to grade school children.  Children are taught to dial 911.

They go through the smoke house to learn about smoke detectors and how to get out of buildings.

Materials and balloons are handed out to students and their parents.

Fire Prevention Week will be Oct. 8-14 this year.  The Madeira and Indian Hill Fire Department will be at the Kroger lot in Madeira from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7.

Come and meet your firefighters and see the new engine.  You’ll learn as I did that your fire department is alive and well.  You’ll see how skilled and efficient your firemen are.  But you’ll have to take my word for their housekeeping skills.

Now, if only I could hire fireman for a maid.