Ellerslie Vol. Fire Dept. Past History
Originaly from the Ellerslie Extra 1998
The Ellerslie Volunteer Fire Company was formed on November 8, 1946 by a small group of concerned citizens who saw the need for adequate fire protection. The twon of Corriganville had formed its fire company several years earlier to this, but were several miles away and this added considerably to their response time. During the first meeting, under the guidance of Mr. A. C. Howard, Chief of Kelly Tire Company Fire Brigade and Chief Lasher from the City of Cumberland Fire Company, the first company officers were elected. The first president was Mr. S. Porter and the first fire Chief was Mr. A. Shaffer.
On January 5, 1947, another meeting was held and it was at this time the men of the company elected to join the local fireman's association and also to become incorporated. All that was needed now was an alerting systen and fire equipment. The first need was filled in February of that year when the Cresaptown Fire Company donated a small siren. The siren was mounted on top of a garage in the center of town. The second need was filled in March of the same year. The Cumberland Fire Department made available a 1923 American LaFrance pumper and 1000 feet of 2 1/2" hose for $1050. The company quickly approved the purchase of the truck and equipment. The truck was housed in a local business garage. Soon after that, the company recoreded its first call on March 14, 1947. Two freight trains were involved in a derailment just above Ellerslie at an area called Ford's Mill. The number of cars involved were not stated in the company records, it did state, however, that the diesel engine posed a problem to men in as it was very hot and diesel fuel was pouring from the ruptured fuel tanks, resulting in heavy black smoke. The fire company responded and sprayed water on the engine until the danger had passed. For this, the company was commended by the Superintendent of the B & O Railroad. In April of 1947, the company purchased the land to begin construction of their station on Allegany Street in Ellerslie. With great support from the Ladies Auxilliary, the department held their first meeting in the new building on March 15, 1949.
On December 25, 1949, the company was called to assist Hyndman PA, Fire Department on a structure fire. This incident was the single most destructive fire in the company's entire history. The fire grew conflagration, involving twelve stores, a bank, the post office, and twenty homes. There were two fatalities in that fire. The fire was fought by 32 fire departments with some traveling from as far away as Winchester, VA. as distance of 90 miles. The 1923 LaFrance was put to a real test as records indicated that it pumped for at least 12 continuous hours, which made the members ver pleased with their 26 year old piece of equipment. The engine supplies water to five different departments during the night.
It was soon discovered that the new station's location was not quite suitable for the compant. They could not obtain the necessary support from the county to do repair work to the surrounding roads and drainage ditches. It was then decided that the department would have to start plans to move. In October of 1951, the company obtained a piece along State Route 35 and construction on the new hall began. This is the current site of the fire station. By April of 1953, the new hall was ready to house equipment. The old building was sold to a local citizen, and is now the site of Logue's Cabinet Shop. The compant now had a mortage of $7,500, but with much hard work from the company, ladies auxilliary, and the community, the mortgage was paid in full by October of 1956. On January 17, 1957, the copmany established a truck fund and began to work toward purchasing another piece of equipment. The company colors of black and white were also established at this meeting. In November of 1957, the company purchased a 1942 Ford from Liberty Road Fire Department in the Baltimore Area. January, 1958, saw the compant begin the construction of a desperately needed tank truck. A 1951 Ford truck chassis was purchased, and a 350 GPM tank was added. It was at this time that the 1923 American LaFrance was sold. In April of 1959, the company purchased an equipment truck from a citizen in the community and work started to enlarge the new station to accommodate additional equipment.
On April 1, 1960, a spectacular fire destroyes Harold's Kitchen Factory. This structure was a large warehouse containg forty-thousand sqaure feet of space. Large amounts of paint and wood products aided in the fires;s rapid spread. Due to this fact and a large delay in reporting the fire to the fire department, a large portion of the building was lost. The fire burned so intensely that it could be seen in Cumberland. Ten departments assisted in bringing the fire under control, but not before it did and estimated $100,000 in damage.
On May 18, 1961, the first two all purpose breathing apparatus were placed in service. Members recieved training for these masks through the local Civil Defense. On July 5, 1962, the copmany had the opportunity to purchase a 1942 LaFrance fire engine. The truck was bought and work began immediately on converting the truck to a tanker. The truck was painted and ready for service by mid-September of the same year. On November 1, 1962, Ralph DeVore, the owner of a local market, donated a small parcel of land next to the new station. The company had wanted this piece of land so that there would be room for the expansion of the garage area. Up until this time, fund raising was done by door-to-door collections, bingos, and dinners such as chicken, spaghetti, and pancakes. On December 16, 1964, the copmany was alerted to assist the Corriganville Fire Department on a house fire at the Fetters residence. The fire killed four children and injured four other persons. The fire department also responded on December 1965, to a plane crash on the C.F. Wisler property in King's Grove. The plane was owned by the Monrow Shock Absorber Copmany. It had just landed in a vacant field in order to refuel. The pilot had walked to a local service station to get gas and prepare for takeoff. On the takeoff the pilot did not gain enough altitude and crashed into the nearby trees. The pilot was able to walk away from the scene of the crash just before the plane burst into flames. The fire department responded quickly and doused the fuselage.
In 1968, the company saw a need to replace th 1948 Ford Panel truck that had been used as an equipment truck. They purchased a 1958 Chevrolet and members worked to paint the vehicle with company colors.
In May of 1969, the company started construction on two new bays to house emergency equipment. A local contractor's bid was expected and work was completely in July of the same year. In 1970, the company purchased a 1957 GMC engine with a 750 gpm pump from the Comet Fire Equipment Company in New Jersey. In August of 1972, the company was able to complete outside renovations by having the entire parking lot covered with black top. By December of 1972, the 1942 LaFrance tanker was in very poor condition. The Corriganville Fire Department made available a 1955 International Tanker. This truck was purchased and by 1974 a buyer was found for the old La France. In 1974, the Allegany County Water commission began the planning and installing of the town's water system, which for the first time included hydrants. Over the next seven years, the company worked to restore the social hall of the fire company. In 1975, the department purchased a new Ford Chassis and started plans for a new engine. It was not until 1977, when the compant had decided on the specifications and placed its order with Seagrave Fire Apparatus. The truck was delivered in June of 1968. In June 1979, the 1958 Chevrolet equipment truck was sold to make room for a 1953 Dodge army surplus jeep which was converted into a brush unit. On November 27, 1980, individuals from the Ellerslie Fire Compant formed the Ellerslie Ambulance Service. This company operated seperately from the fire copmany and carried its own financial responsibility. They purchased their first ambulance in August of the same year from the Lavale Rescue Squad for $2400. This unit was a 1974 Dodge type ll unit. By January 1982, the service purchased a new Ford/Horton type ll ambulance. In 1982, the fire company sold the 1942 Ford pumper back to the Liberty Road Fire Department who had plans to refurbish the truck.
In December of 1983, the building that housed Murphy's Furniture Store caught fire. The blaze was started by a malfunctioning heater and caused an estimated $100,000 in damage. Over twelve different departments assisted in bringing the fire under control. This was followed in 1984 by the flood which caused Wills Creek to flow over it's banks. The fire company and ambulance service immediately initiated an evacuation of homes in the Kin's Grove and Bottom of our town. The water rose and left quickly but the impact was felt for many months. Various rescues were performed by members of our company and other mutual aid companies who responded. In 1984, the company found a buyer for the 1957 GMC pumper and it was sold immediately. The next big step in the department's history began shortly thereafter as the company stated plans to replace its current tanker. The department located a fuel tanker and worked through Charles Sites from Site's Fire Equipment in drawing up plans for the units refurbishment. The company's next step was to find financing for the truck. A committee was established and they approached the Maryland State Fireman's Association Revie Board. The board awarded the company a $33,000 loan for the truck. The truck was delivered in October of 1987. The 1990s have started and proceeded promisingly for the Fire Company.
Work has begun on a long overdue addition to the building. The new addition replaced two existing bays and added two additional bays for apparatus. Most of the work on the new addition was completed by the members of the company. The new addition allowed then for the expansion of both fire and ambulance companies. The fire company was able to obtain a used 1969 Seagrave from Bel Air Fire Department which the members quickly placed in service. The second engine was obtained so that it would be possible to do repair work on the existing engine and not leave the town without fire protection. The company was also able to obtain a 1976 Dodge 4x4 mini pumper from the Corriganville Fire Department. This unit was placed in service as a rescue unit. It was eqipped with a Kinman extrication tool, which was purchased by the ambulance service. The company also replaced the 1956 Army Surplus Jeep. The Jeep was used as a brush unit, but it had exceeded its effective life expectancy. It was replaced by a 1977 Dodge pickup truck obtained through the Department of Natural Resources. With the addition of the Kenworth tanker, and the addition of the new county box alarm system the Company has seen an increase in number of alarms and also the distance that the company's service is being requested. The noticeable examples to this were responses to Short Gap for a house fire, Lonaconing for the Main Street Fire, and Hancock for a motel fire. The one of the most notable incidents in our history occured in January of 1996. The incident was the flooding of Wills Creek. The flooding was caused by the rapid melting of several inches of snow. The fire company was called early in the morning to assist with flooding conditions and worked well into the night. The company assisted with evacuations, including the use of a boat. The company also assisted Lavale, Corriganville, and Hyndman in pumping basements. The fire hall was used as a makeshift relief aid station and numerous residents volunteered time to feed victims and workers and also gather relief materials. Also in 1996 the fire department replaced its aging front line piece of equipment. The 1977 Seagrave pumper, althoughstill in functioning condition was beginning to show its age. The company, through much hard work, was able to purchase a new 1996 Pierce Engine. The price of the new engine was a staggering $185,000, but it is a bargain by today's standards. Several members traveled to Wisconsin to bring the new engine home. A dedication was held at the station. With the help of the ladies auxilliary and several members of the town, the engine was pushed by hand into its new home quarters. A fitting example of the teamwork that it took to purchase the truck. The engine was designated as Engine 6-12. The 1977 Seagrave was moved to reserve status and the 1969 engine was donated back to Steve Cox, Chief of Bel Air Fire Department.