Volunteer firefighters give up address of a century Headquarters relocated to Montgomery Road

December 01, 1997|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

For the first time in more than 100 years, Ellicott City Volunteer Fire Association will have a new address.

Howard County's oldest fire company has moved from its Main Street headquarters to a new building at 4150 Montgomery Road, near the U.S. 29 interchange. The facility, dubbed "Station 2," will be dedicated at 1 p.m. Saturday.

"It's nice to have something new," Department of Fire and Rescue Services Deputy Chief Raymond Faith said of the station. "We don't get too many new firehouses."

The new facility is the 11th in the county. It replaces the Main Street station, which in 1888 had housed a horse-drawn engine, had enlisted neighbors who formed a "bucket brigade" to put out fires and had been the focal point of what is now considered one of the county's quaintest towns.

"I hate to see them move," said B. Harrison Shipley, former chief of Ellicott City Volunteer Fire Association. "But I knew it was necessary. They're just trying to keep up with the times."

Horses have been replaced by state-of-the-art engines and Ellicott City has outgrown the Main Street district, Faith said.

"Back then, a firehouse would grow up around a town, and everyone in the town participated," he said. "What they weren't figuring on was growth in the western part of Ellicott City, like along Route 40. The demands for service have changed."

The new station, which has been in the planning and construction stages for the past five years, is about 22,000 square feet, slightly larger than its 20,000-square-foot counterparts. The facility features eight bays for two engines and two ambulances, Faith said.

The station will be staffed by eight career and about 50 volunteer firefighters.

The old firehouse will not collect dust. The county has agreed to lease the first floor to Ellicott City Senior Center, which has used the basement of Emory United Methodist Church in Ellicott City for the past 10 years, said Carla Buehler, the center's director.

Buehler said the new site is bigger than the basement, where she typically has to find room for an aerobics class, an insurance counseling table, card players and a choir.

"It'll be a wonderful home for us," Buehler said. "A lot of my folks are people who lived in Ellicott City all their lives. They went to school there, they raised their children there. We felt very strongly about having an Ellicott City feel."

The county is considering several options for the second floor of the Main Street station, said County Executive Charles I. Ecker, who will be at the dedication ceremony Saturday.

At the event, a memorial garden will be dedicated to Charles Purnell Ditch and Joseph A. Stigler, who died in a 1953 Christmas morning tragedy. The two Ellicott City firefighters were crushed by a collapsing chimney as the company responded to a house fire on Old Columbia Pike.

Pub Date: 12/01/97

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