Sylvania Fire Fighter Ronald Gregory Phillips died while on duty during routine training on June 19, 1999. He was 32 years old. In 2000, his fellow fire fighters held a pancake breakfast to raise funds for the Sylvania fire fighter’s widow to attend the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Service in Colorado Springs.
“He was known as someone who had a great love for the job, he loved every little bit of it,” shared Sylvania Fire EMS Lieutenant Ryan Sedlock. “It was unfortunate to lose him.”
A year later, as the anniversary of their crew member’s passing neared, Sylvania fire fighters were looking for a way to honor his memory. They decided to hold another pancake breakfast, and this time raise funds for charity, and do it in his honor.
Two decades later, the Sylvania Fire Fighters Pancake Breakfast has become an annual tradition. Always held during the third week in June, the event raises funds every year for all those in need in the Sylvania area, in honor of fire fighter Ron Phillips. The event is set to be renamed starting with 2022, to help remind the community of the heartfelt history behind it.
“We fire fighters do a good job of keeping that tradition, and holding on to the memory, and honoring Ron,” said Sedlock. “But I think a lot of people in the community don’t know why we do it now. That has kind of gotten lost over the years, so we’re going to try to go back to our grass roots, put his name on it more so people are aware that this is more than just a fundraiser. It’s important to remember why we’re doing this. It’s because we had a line of duty death. We lost a fellow fire fighter.”
The pancake breakfast is put on by the Sylvania Fire Fire Fighters Local 2243, the voice of the workers of Sylvania’s fire department. The labor union, which has about eighty active and retired Sylvania fire fighters as members, formed an LLC, a 501 3C charity, in the 1990s to facilitate their efforts in giving back to the community.
“All the money that we raise goes into that charity fund,” said Sedlock, president of Local 2243. “None of it goes back to our union. Then all throughout the year, especially during the holidays, we get requests from Sylvania Area Family Services, Sylvania Community Action Team, and other local charities. Anybody who approaches us for a donation, it comes through that fund.”
The pancake breakfast is the fire fighters' main fundraising effort, although they have also started an additional event in recent years. The Third Annual Sylvania Fire Fighters Golf Outing is August 20, 2021, at Maple Grove Golf Course in Lambertville. Registration for that event will be opening soon.
“You have a super-dedicated work force over here, and that’s not just because we’re out there driving fire trucks. These guys are all super-dedicated to the community,” emphasized Sedlock. “They put in tons of work for local charity, and help raise tens of thousands of dollars to go back in to the community.”
This year's breakfast was initially slated to be a drive-though only event, as it was last year. When Governor DeWine lifted restrictions, the fire fighters met and decided to switch gears at the last minute.
“We’re still going to take precautions within what we’re doing,” assured Sedlock. “And we appreciate people who are not vaccinated wearing their masks. Those who feel uncomfortable are welcome to wear masks, and a drive-thru option will still be available for those who are not comfortable coming in.”
Sedlock has been involved with the breakfast for eleven years, and he says that it truly is a team effort. Sylvania fire fighters will be cooking and serving up pancakes along with all the fixings, eggs, sausage, juice, milk, and coffee. The cost to get in is $5.00, for all you can eat. Raffles will be going on as well.
“Every time someone calls 911, it’s their worst day, and we’re there to fix it. That's how they see us. We show up on your worst day,” commented Sedlock. “This is different. People get to see us in a different light, doing good for the community and having fun while doing it. And after about eight months of restrictions, it’s a chance for the community to come together, meet old friends, eat pancakes, and have a good time.”
The 21st Annual Sylvania Fire Fighters Pancake Breakfast is Wednesday June 16, 2021, from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., at the Elks Lodge, 3520 N. Holland Sylvania Road in Sylvania Township.
The date of the 22nd Annual Ron Phillips Memorial Sylvania Fire Fighters Pancake Breakfast is yet to be announced. Check back in June, 2022.