Hadley Township Fire Department is proud of our 80+ years of serving our residents and surrounding communities.
Today, the fire department is comprised of dedicated people as committed to protecting the lives and safety of their neighbors just as their predecessors had since its inception. The department continues to improve and evolve as the needs and demands of township residents expand.
The following is a brief history, starting with our humble beginnings.
Past accounts have suggested that the fire department started when Ben Hadley, Ray Bush, C.J. Morton and Bryon Taylor went to Detroit in 1937 to purchase a used Packard pumper—for Hadley Township to use as a fire truck. They drove the truck—they had purchased for $250—home, blowing the siren through each town they passed.
Owen Earhart was appointed the first Fire Chief with Bryon Taylor as Assistant Fire Chief. The truck was housed in Earhart’s Garage, across the street from what is now The Parlour. Since Owen had no phone in his house, Cass Taylor, who lived next door, had to get Owen each time a fire call came in.
In the department’s research, the very first mention of a fire department didn’t occur until 1939—which will be recognized as the “official” beginning.
The township board voted in 1939 to buy a new fire truck since the old one had to be towed in order to start it. At the annual township meeting in 1940, Supervisor Harry Brandt gave a description of the truck to those attending. A second-hand Chevrolet truck was purchased from Merton Caryl in Davison and a pump was installed on it.
It soon became necessary to either buy or construct a building to house the truck. In 1944, the township purchased the old bank building for that purpose. Bill VanAlstine was appointed Fire Chief. Other members of the department included: Charles Vilas, Robert Pierson, Mike Ivory, Lorain Eckel and Don Sorenson. Stanley Francezk later became the third Fire Chief.
Throughout this era, anyone reporting a fire called the Hadley telephone operator. She dialed one long ring on all the phone lines to each department member to indicate an alarm. This is how firefighters were alerted to a call.
In 1950, a new pumper was purchased. It took almost another 20 years—the spring of 1969—before another new truck was bought, a four wheel drive Ford pickup utilized as a grass rig.
In 1970, Jack Tunison became the fourth Fire Chief after the passing of Stan Francezk. Jack and his crew were responsible for modernizing the department—with the passing of the department’s first millage and a move to a new fire hall south of town. The department now had a facility that the township could grow with. The department acquired an old 6x6 army truck from the DNR and installed a 2,000 gallon tank and trash pump on it.
In 1975, the fire department was able to purchase a new, modern 1975 International front-mount pumper.
Dick Nass became the fifth Fire Chief in 1980. The department purchased a new 2,500 gallon Ford tanker with a 1,250 gpm front-mount pump. During the 80s, hall improvements were made that included the construction of a large meeting room in the rear, offices, a kitchen and bathrooms.
In 1989, Dennis Galbreath became the sixth Fire Chief. Equipment and training continued to be updated to facilitate emerging NFPA, OSHA and other industry standards.
In 1993, the department purchased a 1,875 gallon Freightliner/Darley pumper with a 1,500 gpm front-mount pump. The department also implemented positive pressure ventilation as a technique for more efficient firefighting.
In 1994, Greg McHugh became Fire Chief, upon his retirement Chief McHugh donated a Stokes rescue basket to help carry rescued patients.
Mike Ivory became the department’s eighth Fire Chief in 1996. The fire department would also end an era of receiving alarms via the telephone through the new countywide 911 system.
In 1999, the department purchased a new, custom 3,500 gallon Freightliner tanker with a 1,250 gpm mid-ship pump.
In 2000, George Lieber became the department’s ninth Fire Chief. George was instrumental in getting the township’s Medical First Responder millage passed. With the Hadley First Responder program in place, a used 1994 Ford rescue/ambulance was purchased to carry medical equipment and the department’s first set of JAWS rescue tools bought from Oxford Fire Department. The department also acquired a 1986 Chevrolet DNR pickup truck to replace the aging 1969 Ford.
With the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency began the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. Chief Lieber was able to successfully write grant awards for a new $23,000 air fill station ($14,000 grant) as well as a new $283,000 rescue pumper ($131,400 grant). The 2004 Spartan rescue pumper carries 700 gallons with a 1,250 gpm rear-mount pump and numerous state-of-the-art accessories.
In 2005, Kurt Nass became the tenth and current Fire Chief.
Chief Nass continued department grant efforts with a $20,000 turnout gear FEMA grant, as well as a $7,000 grant award for the County's Fire Training Center to assist with facility improvements.
A state-of-the-art demo 2004 Ford/Demers ambulance was purchased in 2006 to better serve the community as well as providing a safer response vehicle for its members.
Circa 2009, the first responder program became the only one of its kind in the county licensed to accredit our own personnel, as well as other county first responder agencies.
In 2011, the department made improvements to the fire hall in order to maximize operational and facility efficiency and ensure its viability for years to come. The apparatus bay was raised, making all three front doors 12’, giving us the ability to fraise cabs to access engine compartments without having to do it outside.
In 2013, the department purchased and custom manufactured a 2013 Ford rescue/grass rig. The rig serves as a multi-purpose vehicle in order to get the maximum bang for the buck for township residents.
A couple of years later, we purchased a gas pump, electric hose reels, hose and nozzles for our 1986 DNR Chevy grass rig to match our 2013 unit.
Since the department’s initial millage in the early 70s, the fire department has taken great pride in serving as responsible stewards with taxpayer dollars while keeping pace with equipment and training requirements. We’ve operated under a 1 mil umbrella for the fire department since then. In 2000, a half mil was added to fund the medical first responder program.
In 2015, the department did something for our valued taxpayers that is probably unprecedented, upon the renewal of both fire and first responder millages, we eliminated the first responder millage and joined both entities under 1 millage to run the department—thus, we reduced our resident’s taxes.
The department continues to operate with a limited budget compared to surrounding communities, but has had the ability to amass funds with frugal budgeting and responsible 12-14 year capital improvements planning.
In 2016, due to several past incidents on our lakes—including drownings—we purchased a 14’ jon boat and modified it for emergency response to open water rescues and recovery operations. The rescue boat was custom-fit with pontoons to offer additional payload and incredible stability.
Within one week of putting the boat in service, we received a call for a drowning at Metamora-Hadley Recreation. From our initial alert to getting the victim out of the water and on board to deliver CPR was 18 minutes. It gave the patient the best chance of survival. If we didn’t have the boat it would have been at least 25 minutes to get to shore and start CPR.
In 2017, the Hadley Lion’s Club donated $3,100 to the fire department to purchase a Lowrance 12” side sonar scanner for the rescue boat. The unit will help in finding victims for faster recovery.
In 2019, the department purchased one of the world’s most advanced pumpers—a Spartan/Spencer apparatus. What makes the truck so unique is that it has matching pump panels on both driver’s and passenger sides with a computer interface (SAM System) that virtually runs the truck. Now the pump operator will be positioned on the fire side of the truck. It even comes with a remote tablet giving the pump operator the ability to navigate and do other fire ground tasks while having a hand on pump controls. It’s the only truck in the world with a combination of dual pump panels with the SAM System integration.
In 2020, the Hadley Township Firefighters (with the support of the Hadley Lions Club) purchased a Can Am 570 ATV and donated it to the fire department. This gives us an additional asset for wildland firefighting, rescue/patient transportation, as well as other access challenges.