Parma-Sandstone Assistant Fire Chief Albert Rossner III, left, explains the equipment to members of Lee Chamberlain’s family. From left are Dave Miller, Chamberlain’s daughter, Dawn Miller, and her son Scott. The family donated nearly $60,000 to purchase Jaws of Life-type equipment for the fire department.
By Jeff Steers – Exponent editor
Former Parma-Sandstone Fire Department Chief Ed Smith was shocked when he opened a letter from a former residents and a check for nearly $60,000 was inside.
He would have been happy with $500 or a $1,000.
Members of the Parma-Sandstone Fire Department held a short ceremony Saturday, Jan. 21, thanking former resident Dawn Miller and her family for such a donation.
The money – $59,171.14 – went for cutters, hydraulic rams, spreaders, power units, hoses and stabilization units to be used by the department during accidents and other cases where they use Jaws of Life-type equipment.
Miller contacted the department following her father’s death earlier in the year. Lee Chamberlain was fire chief for three years in the early 1970s and served on the fire department for a number of years.
She asked the fire chief if there were some equipment Parma-Sandstone needed.
“It was coincidental that our backup Jaws of Life equipment failed about the same time,” Assistant Chief Albert Rossner III said.
The department purchased that set of Jaws of Life in 1978 while Chamberlain was on the department. Administrators made a list of items necessary for the replacement of the Jaws and sent it to Miller.
Rossner said it was a “wish list” and never believed that Miller would send a check for the whole thing.
Miller said her father and mother, Lee and Jean Chamberlain, lived in Parma for nearly 70 years. Her father sold Lee Printing in 1982 and retired from the fire department in 1992.
“I gave the money to the fire department to honor my mother and father for their years of service,” Miller said. “They were in love with this little town.”
Smith said he almost dropped the phone when he opened the letter with the check inside.
“I wanted to get up and dance. What we are looking at is a Cadillac Escalade in front of us,” Smith said of all the equipment on display for the family and guests to see.
The equipment will be placed on two trucks and will get plenty of use. The department covers 14 miles of I-94 and averages six car wrecks per month. Nearly half of those cases require Jaws of Life-type equipment, Rossner said.
Rossner said it is the best equipment available.
“You know it is the best in the market when NASCAR uses it,” he said.
Members of the fire department presented family members with photos of Chamberlain’s retirement party July 1, 1992, his coffee cup and two more thank you letters.
Miller now lives in Goshen, Ind., and her son, Scott, lives on the family farm in Springport.