The following excerpts are adapted from a history of the department put together by Nina Harrington, of the Ada Historical Society.
In 1946, a group of civic-minded citizens decided the fire protection needs in the community exceeded the ability of the lone fire truck housed at the county garage on Fase Street and manned by employees of the Kent County Road Commission. The township was growing, and more equipment was sorely needed.
The first fire chief was Dick Sytsma, who owned the local hardware store and lived in the village. Their first fire truck was a 1935 Ford that could draw water from a creek or river, which the county truck could not do.
Through the years, there have been many improvements in equipment and techniques. The early department consisted of volunteers who were initially outfitted with a helmet, rubber raincoat, and rubber boots. These could become unbearably hot at a fire scene.
A few years later, the men were able to purchase new uniforms with funds they raised doing odd jobs about the community and by holding annual auctions. The Township later purchased a 1950's truck which the men reconstructed to meet their needs by doing their own welding, plumbing, etc. Eventually, new equipment was added such as the Jaws of Life, hydraulic spreaders, and, more recently, automatic external defibrillators and a thermal imaging camera.
Originally, there were two signal boxes installed in the village - one in front of the hardware store, and one at the corner of Ada Drive and Bronson. In an emergency, someone had to go to one of these locations and activate the alarm, which would set off the siren located by the Township Hall at the corner of Thornapple River Drive and Ada Drive. The siren summoned the volunteers, and someone had to standby at the signal box to direct firefighters to the fire. Now, placing a call to 911 will bring the help needed.
The first fire truck was housed at the Township Hall. In 1976, Station #2 was built on Knapp Street to serve the needs of residents living north of the Grand River, as that area was growing rapidly. In 1990, the new Station #1 was built on Bronson Street in the village to better serve the growing needs of the community.
Information provided by: Avrill Historical Museum of Ada, located at 7144 Headley Street across from the Post Office. The Museum is open 1pm–4pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
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