Our story began on April 20th, 1973, as officers of the Ladonia Improvement Society and “Concerned Citizens” met to discuss the need for a fire department in Ladonia, after a number of house fires in the area. A committee was formed in May of that year and regular meetings took place at Hillside Methodist Church to discuss future plans and to gather funds. Much of the money that was used for the initial purchases came from bake sales, yard sales, raffles and turkey shoots.

At a meeting on September 10, 1973, Mr. Danny Milligan was elected fire chief and Mr. Jim Ward was elected assistant chief. The committee felt these two men were best suited to get the ball rolling on the purchase of the first fire truck.

September 17th 1973, a purchase was made on a 1967 Ford 600 cab and chassis and a 1,000 gallon oil tank was donated by Mr. Austin of Austin Auto Parts. Members of the department worked nearly every night to have the truck in service by late November. The Board of Directors was formed that month with Mr. Jim Ward as elected chairman. By December, the need for a second truck was mounting with eleven fire calls to date. So, a purchase was made on a 1953 Ford factory built truck.

On January 4th, 1974 ground broke for the new fire station and the construction started. Until this point the trucks were being kept at the officers’ homes. The fireman and the community came together to build the new station.

By May, the Community Center was dried in enough so that Board of Directors could move their meetings to this location. The Russell County Forestry Commission also donated an Army 6×6 truck on which an 1,100 gallon water tank was mounted.

In April of 1974 a storm came through the area, knocking down one of the walls of the engine room. Members of the U.S. National Guard came to the assistance of the community and helped in the rebuilding process.

The trucks were finally parked in their new home on August 15th, 1974 after the doors were installed on the engine room. Work was still being done on the station, and on October 8th Mr. Jim Ward would take the place of Mr. Milligan as the new department chief.

Having completed the fire station, it was time for the community to see all the hard work that everyone put in. On November 24th 1974 an ‘Open House and Dedication’ was held at the Ladonia Volunteer Fire Department.

After a year of hard work, the Ladies Auxiliary sponsored the department’s first Christmas Banquet in December of 1974. At this time the department had not received any federal, state or local funding by which to operate. All money thus far had been received by loans, donations, raffles, yard sales, bake sales and the fire subscription service. The protection service cost homeowners twenty dollars a year. If a resident chose not to subscribe to this service, they were billed one-hundred dollars if fire services were required. LVFD had forty members staffed twenty-four hours a day. This breaks down to Chief, Assistant Chief, four lieutenants, and thirty-four fireman covering three night companies and one day time company. The uniforms were brown and yellow with a shoulder patch for identification.

By January of 1975, a new front mounted pump was installed on the truck that had been donated by Forestry and an 1,100 gallon tank mounted on it. It was then painted white and red.

In April of 1975 a meeting was held to discuss ways to beautify the grounds around the fire station. They planted red tipped shrubbery and sod while adding a walk way and a new painted sign.

Ladonia was the first department in the area to have a yellow painted truck because according to the National Fire Underwriters, it increases vehicle visibility at night. So, in 1975 more equipment was added to make further improvements to the trucks and gear including a C.B. radio, a siren and boots. Chief Ward as also elected as chairman of the board that year. After the station had an inspection, LVFD received a rating of ten because of all the hard work and dedication, the score improved to a nine. This also helped the community by lowering their insurance rates.

Fast forward ten years to 1985, Ladonia now has seven trucks and has responded to more than 800 calls. A mutual aid agreement was drafted and signed to help the surrounding fire departments should they need assistance. Uchee, Fort Mitchell, Dixie and Crawford were listed on the agreement.

On July 1st, 1987, LVFD completed the addition of the upstairs section to include a dormitory, class room and two offices. This would accommodate eight firefighters and a few co-op fire science students from CVCC. Only a few weeks later the department requested funds to build a second sub-station located on Sandfort Rd to help with response time to that area.

Under Chief Dempsey, in 1992, LVFD signed a mutual aid agreement with Columbus Fire, Phenix City and four other departments with Columbus being the agency initiating the agreement. This was not only for help with fires but more specifically for Haz-Mat. Other advantages would include access to the training facility located in Columbus. In the same year, LVFD sought to cut expenses by not going to EMS calls. These types of calls put a strain on the budget as well as the firefighters, because in 1991 the call count was 150 and by 1993 it had increased to over 500. So on January 1st 1994, the department reluctantly stopped going on EMS only calls.

It wasn’t too long of a break before LVFD was right back to doing what they do best, helping the community. The need was still there for our assistance with EMS calls and by 1995 LVFD was helping every way they could.

Ladonia Fire continued to progress over the next 26 years by adding new trucks, adding new medical equipment and training, becoming Search and Rescue certified, raising thousands of dollars for MDA, and so much more. In 2019, Chief Martin started a large construction project. With work completing in about a year’s time, the fire station had been expanded by adding a laundry area, training room, offices and more space for the trucks.

At present, LVFD still takes pride knowing that the station was built by those who need them the most, the community. The department now covers 26 square miles of territory, serves over 5,500 residents, has six trucks in service and is still training on a weekly basis to better help protect the people, property and the environment.