The North Ridgeville Fire Department boasts a unique claim to fame, in that it has both the memorabilia and space to display for residents and visitors glimpses into its significant milestones.

The North Ridgeville Fire Department Museum, located next to Old Town Hall on Center Ridge Road, is filled with old equipment, newspaper clippings and photographs, many of which feature black-and-white images of the force’s first volunteer fire company.

“It’s a history lesson of not only how the fire service has evolved, but how the fire department and city have evolved,” says Fire Chief John Reeves, adding that photographs include members who helped the department become a full-time force in 1967. 

Reeves’ favorite piece in the museum is the department’s first fire apparatus, a 1931 Buffalo fire pumper truck, which remains operational and is used during parades. 

“There aren’t too many trucks like this still around,” he says, adding that people sometimes visit North Ridgeville specifically to see the fire truck.

Another unusual piece in the museum is a roster highlighting all past and present fire personnel. The plaque includes about 80 names and the dates during which each member served since the department’s creation in 1931.

About 150 additional memorabilia range from fire extinguishers to badges, some of which the department saved and others that came from retired firefighters.

“We rotate the things on display,” Reeves says. “Stuff that would otherwise sit in a box, we’re trying to preserve it.” 

The museum began in 2000 through efforts from the City of North Ridgeville and the North Ridgeville Historical Society. The building is open during citywide events and by request. Reeves says the department is installing restroom facilities to accommodate more uses for the museum, such as fire education classes for elementary school students.