Meet the Valley's biggest YFD fan - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Meet the Valley's biggest YFD fan

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From Warren, to Austintown to Youngstown Greg Ricker's love of fire equipment has deep roots.

"Three generations of my family were firefighters for Austintown and whenever I was going up they would go up to the fire station and I would go up with them," said Ricker.

That experience around the big trucks as a kid sparked a love for collecting small fire equipment, helmets and toys.

By the time Ricker was an adult, his collection was large enough to fill up an exhibit at the Tyler History Center.

"It has moved into some larger stuff. The biggest piece that I have in my collection is a 1981 Mack fire truck that used to belong to the city of Youngstown," said Ricker.

The truck doesn't fit in the exhibit, but inside the box, you can find little nuggets of the history of Youngstown fire department dating back to the 1900s.

"Ledger books and you get the see the sort of calls that were made," said Lee Ann Rich of the History Center.

When a crew responded to a call, someone wrote down the details by hand, and responding to a fire before the days of 9-1-1 was pretty tricky.

It usually meant running to the nearest call box to send a signal to the fire station.

"The call box was similar to a telegraph. It would tap a series of dings on a bell and based on that number the firefighters would look up the card and see where it was at and know if they had to respond or not," said Ricker.

Ricker says the Youngstown Fire Department has also made history on a national scale.

"The Youngstown Fire Department was the first fire department, first public safety department to ever go on strike in the country and they ended up doing that twice," said Ricker.

At its largest, the department had 15 stations.

And while things have changed quite a bit over the years, Ricker says he'll be documenting the department every step of the way... because every moment, every call, is a part of history.

The On the Box: A History of Firefighting in Youngstown exhibit will be open through January.
The Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12:00-4:00 p.m.

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