Thursday, September 26, 2002

Retired firefighter still helps out

Jim Kayser honored for his work, praised for his knowledge

By By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

        AMELIA — Jim Kayser's first apartment was only five houses down from the Madison Place firehouse. And that's how it all began — 50 years of volunteer firefighting.

        “It was just something I wanted to do,” said Mr. Kayser, 73, who was honored recently by the state legislature and the Clermont County Board of Commissioners for his commitment to his community.

[photo] Jim Kayser has been a firefighter for fifty years, 47 of them with the B.M.O.P. Fire Department in Amelia.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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        After spending three years with Madison Place, Silverton and Sardinia's departments, he and his wife, Nancy, moved to Batavia Township in Clermont County in 1955. There he joined the Batavia, Monroe, Ohio and Pierce Volunteer Fire Co. (BMOP) and spent 47 years as a volunteer — 25 as assistant chief — before retiring April 1.

        The department is now the Central Joint Fire District and covers Batavia Township and the village of Amelia. And Mr. Kayser, who still wears a radio on his belt, continues to be involved on “active retired” status. He helps with driver training and assists at fires however he can.

        Mrs. Kayser, 71, still remembers his first call. They were asleep in their small, second-floor apartment in Madison Place when the siren on top of the firehouse went off.

        “He jumped out of the bed, hit the baby bed and woke up the baby as he went out the door. He ran down the stairs, and later I had to explain to the neighbors in the 11 other apartments what was going on.”

        He remembers only that the call was a routine trash fire. Afterward, he came home and went to work the next morning at Roadway Trucking, where he worked as a dispatcher.

        Mr. Kayser had just joined BMOP when the department started its life squad in 1958. He served as the first emergency medical services captain and provided much of the organization and training.

        “We went around and knocked on doors asking for $5 to finance it,” Mr. Kayser said. “When I started, there were only three life squads in (the Cincinnati area.) We were the fourth, and we were the furthest east. I remember taking calls in Moscow and Sardinia.”

        Central Joint Assistant Chief Paul Tieman remembers he was indispensable to the department. Mr. Tieman said Mr. Kayser's knowledge about EMS was of great value to the department.

        “He was inspiring,” said Mr. Tieman. “Knowledge you can't do without and you can't replace it. You can't replace experience, either, and he had both.”

        And Mr. Kayser's experience includes rescuing a pilot from a crashed two-seater airplane, fighting a fire in New Richmond with Ohio River water pumped through a fire truck on a ferry, and carrying a dying girl out of a burning house.

        In addition to all that, he's seen a lot of trends, including the move toward full-time paid firefighters and the consolidation of fire departments into joint districts. Both of those he saw firsthand at BMOP.

        He's also seen new equipment and tools, like the Jaws of Life, revolutionize the way firefighters conduct rescues.

        While Mr. Kayser has seen a lot of changes, his wife knows he's still pretty much the same man she married 52 years ago.

        “The technical stuff has changed, but the men haven't,” she said. “They have the same type of personalities now as they did 50 years ago — that desire to help people — or they wouldn't do it.”

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