Taylor Mill memorial to tell story of volunteer fire departments

Patricia A. Scheyer
Patricia A. Scheyer
Patricia is a contributor to LINK nky.

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The entrance to Pride Park in Taylor Mill will soon be the home to a special monument honoring Firefighters from three different volunteer departments no longer in existence: Forest Hills, Winston Park and Taylor Mill.

Most of the monument is ready. The last thing to go in will be the statue.

“At one time, the fire departments were all volunteer, and gradually paid members were added,” said Rita Hasler, who is the secretary for the Taylor Mill Volunteer Firefighter Association. “The Taylor Mill Volunteer Firefighter Association was formed to include members of Forest Hills, Winston Park, and Taylor Mill volunteer fire departments. Of course, now we have one fire department, and it is all paid.”

The yet-unfinished memorial, which Nancy Holian of Erlanger is creating, will have a background of a brick wall, with a special granite memorial for each department of volunteers. Surrounding the memorial will be brick pavers that can be purchased and engraved for a loved one or a group.

“We are selling pavers for $35, with three lines of text and 13 characters,” Hasler said. “It is an excellent way to honor family members or friends, and they don’t have to be firefighters.”

Two benches have already been installed as part of the memorial. Hasler said they have helped design a statue, which is being crafted in bronze in Colorado. The statue depicts a firefighter and a child, as well as a ladder with the firefighter looking up.

The Taylor Mill volunteer fire station with a rescue squad in front around 1970.

The Forest Hills fire department was located on Grand Avenue and Winston Park was located on State route 16. Both were also communities, not just fire departments, and they were in their heyday in the 1950s to the 1980s. Forest Hills eventually merged into Winston Park, and then Winston Park merged into Taylor Mill in 1970.

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Robby Stewart was involved with the Volunteer Fire Department from the time he was 14, and the department allowed him to help with the paper drives which was one of the many fundraisers the department held.

When he was 15, he was permitted to go through training, and in 1969, at the tender age of 16, he was able to go on runs with the other firefighters.

“I began to run both Squad and Fire from Winston Park,” he said in a letter he wrote 3 years ago. “I would run Life Squad on Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. My first runs are still very much with me.”

The Taylor Mill Volunteer Fire station, in Winston Park, in the 1970’s, with equipment vehicles in front, including the repurposed bread delivery truck.

Stewart related how the Kenton County Water Department took emergency calls because they had an employee at the department 24 hours; they would issue a siren or whistle at 7 second intervals for life squad and 15 second intervals for a fire call. The first volunteer at the station would call in to stop the siren or whistle, and after logging the run on the chalkboard, the volunteers were off to help.

Stewart said the system changed in the 70s, and then again in the 80s, when they were given pagers.

Equipment at the time was whatever they could get.

A rescue truck was needed, and a tanker truck. The volunteers bought a bread delivery truck and outfitted it with shelves and cabinets and the jaws of life equipment. That was given to the department by the Oak Ridge fire department when they merged with the Covington Fire Department. The new rescue truck was eventually painted lime green.

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As for a tanker, they bought one from the Service Oil company and sanded it inside and out, painted it, and started using it.

The money for these vehicles and any equipment was raised by the Fireflies, who were the Women’s auxiliary, through fish fries, flea markets, turkey shoots, festivals and bingos.

Dennis Halpin started as a volunteer firefighter in 1979. He replaced Tim Cook as Volunteer fire chief and was Taylor Mill’s full-time paid fire chief.

The Taylor Mill Volunteer fire department around 1991 dealing with a bus fire.

Halpin became chief in 1991, when Taylor Mill took over the operation of the fire department from the fire association.

“We updated the fire department with a new pumper rescue, and updated the ambulances,” Halpin said. “We continued to maintain a combination department with volunteers and a few full-time paid staff.”

He said one of the biggest changes to the fire department once the city took over was moving to Advanced Life Support. He maintained that obtaining ALS was a milestone in providing the best possible care for residents of Taylor Mill.

Recently the Association sold their last building in the Winston Park area, where the current Taylor Mill fire department had been storing a pumper. The money they received from the sale of the building was put directly into the monument in Pride Park. With the $135,000 that they received from the sale of the building, the Association locked in the prices on the memorial before the building costs skyrocketed.

Anyone who would like to purchase a paver can call Bob Warde, the president of the Association at 859-287-4648, or email a message to [email protected] If the pavers are bought using a check, the checks can be made payable to TMFFA.

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