The Taylor Fire Department dates back to 1939, when the community was a township. In the beginning, the Department consisted entirely of volunteers under the leadership of Fire Chief Edward Probst. The volunteers were community members who responded when they could, using their personal vehicles. When a call came in, the City of Dearborn would respond with a Fire truck and one firefighter. The volunteers from Taylor would respond to assist the Dearborn firefighter in extinguishing fires. This system was in place until 1941 when Taylor Township purchased its first fireengine, a 1941 American Lafrance, and hired four full-time firefighters. These four firefighters worked 24-hour shifts, every other day for several years.
When the alarm sounded, the full-timers and the engine would respond. Once the volunteers were notified, they would report directly to the fire. The wife of one firefighter had "House Duty" during times of a fire. "House Duty" meant that incoming calls to the firestation were forwarded to her home while no one was at the station, since there were no radio communications at that time. If additional emergencies occurred, she would call another city to respond.
Despite a roster of only four full-time firefighters, the department responded to a great number of fires. In 1946, there were 48 house fires, 10 building fires, seven garage fires, 14 car fires, 35 grass fires, three chicken coop fires, two outside trash fires and a multitude of fires that were reported too late for the fire department to respond. It appears that fires came in groups, as they do today. At times, the department would be idle for up to three weeks between calls, however there were some very busy days as well. For example, on March 21, 1949, the firemen responded to 23 separate grass fires in less than 12 hours.
Although the firefighters were not conventional Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) or paramedics, as we know today, they did respond to "resuscitator" calls, providing simple first-aid and oxygen to injured and ill people. The call for the "resuscitator" was rare at the time, with firebeing the primary concern of the department. When Taylor firefighter's did respond to a "resuscitator" call, they usually had a private ambulance backup. In other instances, they would speak with the patient's private doctor for on scene medical direction and waited at the scene until the doctor arrived. In a 1948 incident, the firefighters provided treatment to an infant in cardiac arrest for two hours at the scene; they finally stopped their efforts based on the orders of the patient's doctor. On occasion, the fire department as well as the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office would transport victims as needed. There were no protocols or treatment standards at that time, and EMS training was not formal as it is today.
In 1956 the Taylor Township firefighters became an official International Association of firefighters (IAFF) local. On July 6, 1961, Alex Kato became the Chief of the fire department. Under his administration the membership steadily increased over the years, reaching its height in the 1970s with 56 members. Taylor became a city in 1969. Chief Kato retired on January 17, 1975, and was succeeded by Chief Russell McNamee. During Chief McNamee’s administration, the department continued in a positive direction, with no major changes. Chief McNamee retired on January 21, 1983. The next to become Chief was Robert Diel. In 1986 the Auxiliary firefighter program was introduced, which was intended to augment the full-time ranks. Chief Diel was instrumental in purchasing new fire and rescue apparatus for the department. During his time as Chief and due to a lean overall city budget, the number of full time firefighters decreased to 30. On January 5, 1995, Chief Diel retired, leaving the position to Ted Swope. During his administration, Chief Swope had hoped to abolish the auxiliary program, due to the fact that it was not cost effective to continually train auxiliary firefighters that would leave our department for full-time positions. There were an estimated 400 auxiliary firefighters who served between 1986-1999 in this program. A contract settled between the firefighters and the City of Taylor in 1999 abolished the auxiliary program. On August 2, 1999, Chief Swope retired and turned the reins over to Chief Kenneth Costella. In January of 2000, the Taylor fire department began an advanced life support ambulance service to provide the residents a quicker response time for medical treatment and transportation to the hospital in emergency situations. This in itself has been the largest undertaking the Taylor fire department has known to date.
Since 2000, the department has purchased 3 new fire engines, a 100 foot platform truck and four new ambulance for EMS service delivery.
A considerable amount of things have changed over time, yet one thing has remained constant…… the devotion and bravery of the men and women known as THE TAYLOR PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS.