Volunteer firefighters honored at dedication of hall of fame display

Community college site offers visible reminder

February 20, 2000|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The names of 61 firefighters adorn the Carroll County Volunteer Firemen's Association Hall of Fame wall at Carroll Community College.

With a few of those select firefighters looking on, the wall was dedicated Wednesday in a ceremony led by college and firemen's association officials.

"We are so very proud to have this wall, and hopefully I can speak on behalf of all county residents in saying how proud we are to know there are people so selfless and so courageous as these," said Faye Pappalardo, CCC president.

Pappalardo told the group that 10,000 people go in and out of the college annually, to classes, art exhibits and special events.

"They pass this wall many, many times, and we hope that they will at least utter a word of thanks for what you do," she told firefighters.

Ricky Baker, chairman of the CCVFA's Hall of Fame Committee for the last five years, praised the firefighters for the work and time they put into the fire companies.

"Traditionally, each class of inductees totals more than 100 years of service," Baker said. "They serve as firefighters, emergency medical technicians, in administration, fund raising, at the county level and at the state level. This is a great accomplishment for these members."

The wall is in the rear hall across from the elevators at the entrance of the Langdon Family Art Gallery. Under large letters proclaiming "Carroll County Volunteer Firemen's Association Hall of Fame" are plaques for each of the 14 volunteer fire stations in the county.

Beneath the station name are individual plaques with the firefighter's name and year of induction.

The hall of famers who attended the ceremony swapped stories and listed some of their accomplishments.

Dick Baker, Ricky Baker's father, is a founding member of the Winfield Community Volunteer Fire Department. He was an active firefighter, company president for eight years, then vice president, and remains a member of the company's board of directors.

"I've run the french fry stand at the carnival since it began in 1965," he said. "I was breakfast chairman for 10 years."

He also was county firefighters' association president in 1980-1981 and on the standards committee and constitution and bylaws committee for the state firefighters' association.

At 64, he can still be found helping with the firefighters' spring and fall dinner and breakfast, and the carnival.

Charles Bush, 83, was a founding member of the Reese & Community Volunteer Fire Company 51 years ago. Company treasurer for 29 years, he is on the company's board of directors and helps with bingo.

Eighty-year-old Scott Smith from Pleasant Valley Community Fire Company recalled how different firefighting was in 1947 when he joined.

"Back then, you didn't have to be a fireman to go to a fire," he said. "You stopped along the road and jumped on the running board and grabbed a coat and boots, if there was any left."

Dale Lowman, though not in the hall of fame himself, attended in memory of his grandfather, Arthur Lowman, inducted in 1985.

"It's an honor," Lowman said. "He joined in 1930 or 1932 and was very active in the county and state associations. He was active 40 years before he passed away."

The hall of famers recalled fires where people died in the dwellings, when it was so cold they couldn't roll the hoses up, when fire engines didn't go any faster uphill than a man could run.

The Firemen's Association began the Hall of Fame in 1980 for service rather than heroism, Baker said. Three members are inducted each year at the association's annual convention in May.

Each station is asked to submit the names of members who have served 20 or more years and have given outstanding service in fire, ambulance or administration. Any fire company member who dies in the line of duty is automatically entered into the Hall of Fame.

The six-member Hall of Fame Committee reads all letters of recommendation and decides who gets in each year, Baker said. So far, only one line-of-duty entry has occurred.

Preston Patterson, a member of the fire police for many years in Manchester, died of a heart attack while helping with a traffic accident in fall 1998. He was inducted in May.

"The original plaque for the Hall of Fame still hangs in the County Office Building," Baker said. "In 1998, Dr. Joseph Shields, then president of Carroll Community College, made the offer to us to mount something like the Sports Hall of Fame at the college, and we took him up on the offer."

Baker hopes the wall also will encourage those who see it to consider entering the fire service.

"We're using this as another means of recruitment and retention," Baker said. "It's getting harder and harder to get volunteers, and we hope to create some interest from people passing by."

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