Please welcome our new Executive Director, Michael Shimko!

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Mike has been with the museum as a fire safety educator since 2014. He graduated from The Ohio State University with a BA in journalism in 1984. He worked in the marketing department of Chemical Abstracts Service for 3 years before entering the fire service. Mike spent 5 years as a Flight Paramedic for SkyMed and MedFlight. He joined Grandview Heights Fire Department in 1993 and there not only worked his way through the ranks to captain, but was in charge of Grandview’s Community Education Program for 15 years. He retired from Grandview in March 2019 and jumped into the fire as the museum Executive Director. He brought with him a lot of great ideas and enthusiasm. Not only does he enjoy speaking about the history of the fire service, he has a passion for public fire safety education and is excited to begin leading us into the future. We can’t wait to see what’s next for the museum. Congratulations Mike, we wish you the best of luck!

Happy Retirement to our CEO, Bill Hall!

Happy retirement to our CEO, Bill Hall!

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My name is Jackilyn Hiss (I volunteer as the social media & website coordinator) and my dad is Bill Hall. For those of you who may not know, my dad wore many hats at the fire museum. He was the president, director, past Columbus fire historian, fundraiser, grant writer, and the one who brought the museum to life with all that you see today! I am sure he will be correcting me after he reads this post (‘you forgot this or my title wasn’t that’ haha), but my point is that he deserves recognition for the passion and dedication he poured into it. I’m here to tell his story from my perspective…

When I was a little girl my dad would take me to the museum and I would run around the dirty building playing on the fire trucks, getting in the Heart Mobile pretending like I was responding to an emergency, exploring the bunk rooms upstairs wondering what the firefighters talked about, and sneaking up to the third floor attic and trying not to get caught because I wasn’t supposed to be up there. All the while my dad was doing what he could to make the museum a reality. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized not all dads are like mine. That knowing the history of the Columbus Fire Department as a kid wasn’t a common thing and having a dad who could inspire others and be an amazing leader wasn’t so common either.

It is completely impossible to list all of the accomplishments that my dad has achieved. And I mean that from the depths of my soul because this man has done so many great things that I am sure even he can’t name all of them. But, let’s start here… He wrote grants. I am talking grants upon grants for the museum. Grants can take weeks and even MONTHS to write, but when you love something enough, it doesn’t matter how long the process takes. He helped put on countless fundraisers, one I remember going to was the Country Western Show at the old Clippers Stadium and then again at the Ohio State fairgrounds. He took the time to go through all items donated to the museum and those that couldn’t be used? Well, he reached out to other museums and collectors to ensure those items went to a good home. Nothing was ever thrown out and complete care was taken into consideration for each and every item. We went to countless fire auctions where I would get to run around playing with the other kids while he was working tirelessly trying to find unique items that the museum still needed to tell its story. He helped create a program to educate museum visitors on fire safety and a ‘burn room’ to bring light to that importance. He’s reached out to companies to donate services to the museum, such as the windows, which were all custom made by Rosati. He’s held endless work parties on Wednesday nights where volunteers would come in and work on different projects within the museum. Such as, the Model T club who restored the current Model T displayed in the front of the museum. Or those who helped with the Heart Mobile restoration which is being scheduled for future tours and appearances. Again, this is all just scratching the surface.

My dad has dedicated his life to the fire service and that’s still a complete understatement. He not only ran the fire museum, but he worked and retired from the Columbus Fire Department after 40 years of service (where he also received badge #1). He is on the board of directors for the Fire Museum Network, which is a national non-profit organization, ‘dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the artifacts, history, and traditions of the fire service.’ ( He is also a retired Sgt. Major from the Ohio Army National Guard where he first joined to be a medic and then moved through the ranks from there. As the oldest son, my dad was supposed to follow his dad’s footsteps and become the next doctor. My grandpa was a great man, also named Bill Hall, and has an award named after him which is the ‘Bill Hall Award for Service – Named after Dr. Bill Hall. This is Ohio ACEP’s highest award for service to the Chapter or the field of emergency medicine through selfless giving of time, dedication, and enthusiasm’ ( Yes, I am taking a moment to brag. That’s because the men in my family are selfless, caring, and devoted to giving back to their community. Who wouldn’t be proud of that?

I can only hope to live up to the legacy that my dad has and still is leaving behind. This may sound a bit bias, but he is truly one in a million. He is my hero and everyday I strive to be as great of a person he is not only in my work life, but personal life as well. He inspires me to make the best decisions I can and when I fail, he lifts me back up, and helps me understand how to move on and be better than before.

Dad, I hope that your next years are filled with lots of time enjoying going to car shows, spending time with new grandbabies, boating at Lake Cumberland, and just falling asleep on the couch whenever you please. You deserve this time and just know that no matter where the museum goes from here you have set it up to succeed and bring joy to all those who walk through its door. You brought it to life and now others can step in and keep it moving forward for generations to come. Thank you for your decades of service and go enjoy your retirement!

Love you!