Grandview Heights Moment in Time

Wayne Carlson
Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Historical Society

The April 4, 1923, issue of a weekly magazine called Fire and Water Engineering (V73, #14) had a short paragraph describing the conflict between Grandview Heights and Columbus related to the purview of their respective fire departments. This conflict began in 1922, when the city of Columbus, which had been providing fire service to the community, began charging Grandview for fire-service runs.

This editorial cartoon appeared in a Columbus newspaper in early 1923. It was referring to an argument between Columbus and Grandview Heights firefighters related to the jurisdiction of each fire unit. A home on West Fifth Avenue sustained extensive fire damage while the two fire crews argued over which was responsible for responding to it.

The period leading up to this point was a time of tremendous growth in the Grandview and Marble Cliff area. Homes were being built in the community at a rapid rate, and Columbus saw the number of fire runs increasing. Its fire department maintained that it couldn’t continue to service Grandview at no charge. 

According to the magazine, as a result of a fire that destroyed a building in February 1923, Grandview presented a bill to Columbus for the water the Columbus firemen had used in extinguishing the flames. That was the outcome of the controversy between Columbus and Grandview over the matter of fire protection.

In March 1923, the two municipalities attempted to get together in a contract that would give Grandview the benefit of the firefighting apparatus of Columbus, but Grandview refused to pay the price of $1 on each $1,000 on the village tax duplicate. The Columbus safety director informed Grandview that it would have to use its own apparatus in putting out any fires within the Grandview or Marble Cliff limits and that Columbus firemen would not be permitted to cross the corporation line under any circumstances. 

Grandview responded with a statement that the use of any Grandview water to put out fires in the section of Columbus lying in the Columbus “finger” between Third and King avenues would be charged for. The February bill for the water used was the consequence of this decision. Columbus somewhat  relented, and the safety director determined that a response from the Columbus fire department could occur with a request for aid from the Grandview mayor, a council member or the city clerk.

The conflict took a nasty turn later in April. A fire, at the home of Leonard Thomas at 1847 W. Fifth Ave. (in the  disputed “finger”) resulted in Columbus responding to the fire.

Columbus Battalion Chief Charles Barklow subsequently received what the newspaper called “a wetting” from the Grandview firefighters. When Grandview insisted it could fight its own fires, the Columbus team was ordered by Barklow to leave the emergency and return to their station.

It was then that the Grandview firemen turned their hoses on the Columbus crew.

Mayor Ryder from Grandview had to apologize to the Columbus safety director.

These disputes resulted in Grandview establishing a fully independent fire department, and it built the existing fire station on Grandview Avenue.

The week following the “wetting,” the editorial cartoon appeared in the newspaper.

This historical narrative from the Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Historical Society was provided by Wayne Carlson.