The earliest known volunteer firefighters in the Township of Romulus were members of the Grange Hall (downtown Romulus near Secretary of State). This organization provided manpower and a vehicle to respond to fires in the Township. An old 1929 Model A truck was converted into a fire-fighting vehicle by placing two tanks on it to haul water. In 1940, the Romulus Gray Iron Foundry burned down. This prompted the Township to organize a Fire Department under city leader Elmer Johnson's leadership. Twelve men were recruited to join this department under the direction of a newly appointed Fire Chief, Joe Crova.
A new Ford Fire Truck was purchased in 1941. The truck was housed at the Grange Hall until 1943 when the truck was moved to a garage on Goddard. The second fire truck that was purchased was a 1948 Ford Pumper.
The first warning/notification system was a siren located on the Grange Hall, however, this proved to be unsatisfactory. An old crank telephone system was utilized to place response calls to each of the firefighters. An operator was hired to provide 24-hour a day call service.
Eventually, a dial telephone system replaced the crank telephone system, as it could notify all the firemen at the same time.
In 1951, Fire Station Number 2 was completed on Middlebelt Road south of Ecorse. The following year, a third Ford pumper truck was purchased. Station Number 1 was relocated to Goddard and Wayne Roads.
However, with both fire stations being on the east side of the railroad tracks, response to the west side of town was hampered. Chief Crova started housing a pumper at his service station at Five Points to address this problem.
The following year (1953) the Township purchased radios and the City of Wayne's Fire Department dispatched the Romulus Township trucks through their base.
In 1960, a new American LaFrance pumper was purchased and two other stations were opened; Station Number 3 at Wayne and Waynecourse and Station Number 4 at 30256 Eureka, next to the old Hale School. The fire department consisted of four fire stations, four engines, 48 volunteer firemen, and a volunteer Fire Chief.
In 1971, a new American LaFrance pumper was purchased for Station Number 4. A year later, the City of Romulus bought its own base station and hired five full-time dispatchers to man the dispatch office 24-hours a day, seven days-a-week. Dispatchers received calls from the public and then toned the firemen's radios, giving the type of fire and its location. The same call-out system is used today for the paid-on-call firefighters.
In 1972, Fire Chief Joe Crova retired and Charles Bradley Jr. was hired and served until August 1974, when John Wilhide was named chief.
Between 1975 and 1976 two new American LaFrance pumpers were purchased along with two Pierce Quick Attack Mini pumpers (4-wheel drive).
In 1978, two additional pieces of equipment were added to the fleet, one being a 1978 50-foot ladder telesquirt, which remained in service until 2000, when a new 100 feet aerial platform truck was purchased.
It was in 1978 that Station Number 4 was relocated to its current location at 28777 Eureka Road. The new facility housed the administrative offices and was built with the intention of opening as a manned full-time fire department.
In 1980, Station Number 1, was relocated to a new building at 37230 Northline. Over the next decade, the department acquired three new rescue type vehicles and replaced each of its front line pumpers.
During that decade, the department also saw a passing of the torch from Fire Chief Wilhide in 1982 to Chief James Haslip, and then to Chief William Greenslait in 1987.
In January 1996, Fire Marshal David Allison was asked to assume the additional responsibilities of fire chief and continues to lead the department today.
Considering the potential growth and expansion north of the airport specifically, the newer, larger hotels, the department purchased a 100 feet Pierce Arrow, an aerial platform truck in 2000. The truck came equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including a thermal imaging camera.
The year 2001 brought about the most significant change in the department's history. Under Mayor William Oakley, the City hired its first eight full-time firefighters. This would be the first of many steps to come in bringing the department into the 21st Century.
Mayor Alan Lambert continued the department's forward momentum by hiring an additional eight firefighters in 2003, and instituting 24-hour a day, seven day a week fire protection coverage and EMS services for the community.
The department also took possession of three brand new light-duty rescue trucks that year, and in 2004, purchased two new Pierce Arrow pumpers, which are housed at stations Number 1 and Number 2, the two full-time staffed stations.
In the fall of 2007, the Romulus City Council voted to accept the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) award to the Romulus Fire Department for an Operations and Safety Program. Total program costs were estimated at $375,600, with the City of Romulus' portion being about 10% and the federal share of the program an estimated $338,040.
The largest portion of the grant, approximately $190,000 was used to purchase personal protective equipment for the firefighters. This included new air packs and a mobile air fill station. Another $117,000 was spent to equip each of the city's four fire stations with a vehicle exhaust removal system, modifying these facilities for optimum firefighter health and safety. The department also began a comprehensive wellness and fitness program for the firefighters, for which the remaining funds ($22,400) were spent on firefighter physicals.
In 2008 and 2009, the department was again successful in securing grant funds that expanded its tornado warning system, provided for the purchase and installation of video conferencing equipment and medical reporting hardware, software, and support.
A struggling economy forced the layoff of 7 firefighters in 2010, leaving only 8 full-time firefighters to cover the nearly 4,000 calls for emergency response within the city. The city eliminated its local Emergency Management Program and turned over its emergency preparedness responsibilities to Wayne County. Working extra diligently to find funding after a failed attempt for a millage increase, the department applied for a Staffing For Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant (SAFER) and was awarded 2 years of funding (1.3 million) in early 2011 to bring back the laid off firefighters. While under that grant, firefighters were reassigned to a single station at Eureka and Middlebelt Roads and moved to a schedule where firefighters worked 24-hour shifts.
In 2012, both the fire and police departments would undergo a complete communication system upgrade from individual VHF radio frequency to the State of Michigan's 800 MHz system. This brought about much improved operability between the departments and mutual aid partners.
With the end of the SAFER funding in 2013, fire administrators again applied for additional federal funds from FEMA to assist with maintaining the firefighter staffing levels. Early in 2014, the department received notification that they had been awarded an additional 729,000 to increase the number of "front line" firefighters in the City of Romulus. Additionally, the department promoted one of its firefighters to deputy fire chief, restoring the level of fire command officers to two, with increased support from a newly formed Department of Public Safety that encompassed both the fire and police departments.
During the Period of Performance of the 2013 SAFER Grant, the Romulus Fire Department increased services through the delivery of EMS Basic hospital transport. It also established a Fire Safety Inspection Program to reach out to all businesses within the city to establish compliance with basic fire safety codes. Romulus City Council approved fee schedules associated with these additional services to better equip the fire department to sustain personnel levels upon the termination of the SAFER Grant in February 2017.
The Fire Department made significant strides in 2018-2019 by advancing its FIRE and EMS operations. They once again applied for and received a FEMA SAFER Grant award. The grant provides assistance in funding 5 additional full-time firefighter positions for 3 years which brought the number of full-time firefighter positions to 21. These additional firefighters enabled the City to staff a second station located nearest the Hotel District, Fire Station Number 2, with full-time firefighters 24/7, beginning May 2019.
The Department also received a TIFA Block Grant and took delivery of a new Spartan Engine in early 2019. The emergency vehicle situation had become critical when one of the 2003 Engines was decommissioned in January 2018 when repair costs exceeded value, leaving the Department with just one front line engine and a 30 year old back up engine.
Both the police and fire departments moved to a new Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system in late 2018. The new system (CLEMIS) utilizes innovative computer technology and allows for superior creation, update, tracking, and management of all public safety calls for service. The implementation of the new system increased customer service and first responder safety through accuracy and efficiency.
Perhaps the most pivotal accomplishment in maintaining essential public safety services was the passing of a 4-mill millage proposal by voters in November 2018 that supports public safety for 5 years beginning 2019. The authorized funding can only be spent on Fire and Police Departments to help sustain operational efficiencies throughout both departments. Cuts that included a reduction in staffing would have been imminent had the proposal not passed.