The community of Dayton, Indiana has been served by firefighters since 1898. The town of Dayton is located in the Sheffield Township of Tippecanoe County and lies just east of Lafayette, IN in the northwest portion of Indiana. The first firefighters for our community were called to a fire by the ringing of the church bells. When they heard the bells the men came running, bringing their own buckets. In 1918, a two-wheel chemical cart was purchased. The cart consisted of a 60-gallon tank of sodium acid and a hose. The Dayton Boy Scout Troop #5, whose duty it was to get the cart to the fire, manned it. The cart was stored in the Dayton Garage and used until 1929.
In January 1929, a 1917 Oldsmobile truck was acquired to haul two 60-gallon tanks of sodium acid. The 1917 Olds truck was used until October 1939, at which time a 1925 Hudson replaced the Olds. All of the existing equipment was transferred to this 1925 Hudson truck. After several big fires at the Dayton Lumber Company and the Dayton Garage a 1941 Chevrolet fire truck was delivered to the community. It had a capacity to carry 360 gallons of water and the body of the truck was built to specifications and bought by donations. In 1941 The Prairie Farmer Magazine recognized the department as being one of the first in the Midwest for “Country folk fire protection.” After receiving this award, representatives from five surrounding states came to visit our department to see the first rural fire protection.
In 1944 a governing body of the firemen was organized and was called the “Sheffield Township Fire Association.” The governing body consisted of the township trustee and four residents. The Sheffield Township Fire Association was re-organized in 1954 and again in 1961 to finally be called the “Sheffield Township Volunteer Firefighter Association.” That organization remains in place today and is the governing body for the fire department. In January 1961 a new fire station was built to house a 1949 Dodge tanker, which carried 1250 gallons of water, and a 1950 Chevrolet pickup truck, which carried a pump donated by Alcoa. This station was soon out grown and a new station, located across from the Dayton School, was built in 1984. At that time the new station housed two pumpers, which were capable of pumping 750 gallons of water per minute, a 1500 gallon tanker, a grass truck, a rescue vehicle, and a utility pick-up truck donated by Isuzu Automotive. This station remains in service today housing our newest fire equipment. In the mid-1980’s the Sheffield Township Fire Department responded to an average of 150 runs per year, with approximately two-thirds rescue and medical related and one-third fire related. Today we respond to an average of 450 runs per year. Jump forward to 2010 we added two bays onto the station to better serve the community, so we can purchase truck that we need to respond to call in place of trucks that fit into the station,
Our department offers a variety of services including fire protection, fire inspection, fire prevention and education, hazardous material response and emergency medical services. Today our department has approximately 30 volunteer members covering Sheffield Township, the southern half of Perry Township, and the town of Dayton in Tippecanoe County. The department covers approximately 54 square miles, including approximately 10 miles of Interstate 65. The combined populations of these areas are approximately 7500 residents. The department also provides mutual aid assistance to departments in Tippecanoe, Clinton, Carroll and Montgomery Counties as needed. The Sheffield Township Fire Department remains committed and responsive to our communities needs by providing professional services for all emergency response and community needs. Our members live by our motto of “Courage to Act, Desire to Serve, Ability to Perform.”
The symbol of a fire department and the badge of a fireman is, the Maltese Cross. The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection and is worn as a badge of honor. Its story is hundreds of years old. When a courageous band of crusaders known as the Knights of St. John, fought the Saracens for possession of the holy land, they encountered a new weapon unknown to European warriors. It was a simple, but a horrible device of war, it wrought excruciating pain and agonizing death upon the brave fighters for the cross. The Saracen's weapon was, fire. As the crusaders advanced on the walls of the city, glass bombs containing naphtha struck them. When they became saturated with the highly flammable liquid, the Saracens hurled a flaming torch into their midst. Hundreds of the knights were burned alive; others risked their lives to save their brothers-in-arms from dying painful, fiery deaths. Thus, these men became our first firemen and the first of a long list of courageous firefighters. Their heroic efforts were recognized by fellow crusaders who awarded each here a badge of honor - a cross similar to the one firemen wear today. Since the Knights of St. John lived for close to four centuries on a little island in the Mediterranean Sea named Malta, the cross came to be known as the Maltese Cross. The Maltese Cross is your symbol of protection. It means that the fireman who wears this cross is willing to lay down his life for you just as the crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow man so many years ago. The Maltese Cross is a fireman's badge of honor, signifying that he works in courage - a ladder rung away from death.